Leadership Lessons from Confucius: exceptional talent

Richard Brown
2 min readSep 20, 2022


The Zhou dynasty had eight scholar-officials: Boda, Boshi, Zhongtu, Zhonghu, Shuye, Shuxia, Jisui, and Jigua.

Exceptional talent is in short supply. How do you identify and nurture it in your organization? Often, it can appear in the most unexpected of places. Make sure you are not missing any opportunities to unearth it!


This article features a translation of Chapter 11 of Book 18 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 18 here.

(1) The appearance of this chapter in Book 18 appears to be random.

(2) Some commentators suggest that the list consists of two sets of four brothers because the family names of Bo (伯), Zhong (仲), Shu (叔), and Ji (季) respectively mean: eldest brother, second brother, young brother, and youngest brother. An alternative translation would thus be:

The Zhou Dynasty had eight scholar-officials: elder brothers Da and Shi; second brothers Tu and Hu; younger brothers Ye and Xia; and youngest brothers Sui and Gua.

(3) Other commentators posit that the list consists of four sets of twins born to the same mother because the names of each pair of twins rhymed with each other in ancient Chinese. Of course, a woman bearing four pairs of twins who all went on to be outstanding individuals would be a an extremely rare and hence noteworthy occurrence.

I shot this image in a hillside temple on the Four Beasts near to Taipei.



Richard Brown

I live in Taiwan and am interested in exploring what ancient Chinese philosophy can tell us about technology and the rise of modern China.