Leadership Lessons from Confucius: fully present in every moment

Confucius said: “Exemplary people focus their thoughts in nine ways: when looking they focus on seeing clearly; when listening they focus on hearing properly; in their facial expression, they focus on being friendly; in their demeanor, they focus on being deferential; in their speech, they focus on being sincere; in conducting their affairs, they focus on being respectful; when in doubt, they focus on asking questions; when consumed by anger, they focus on the negative consequences it may lead to; when faced with an opportunity for gain, they focus on doing the right thing.”
孔子曰:「君子有九思:視思明,聽思聰,色思溫,貌思恭,言思忠,事思敬,疑思問,忿思難,見得思義。」

Think carefully and size up the situation before intervening in it. There is no need for you to say or do anything until you are fully aware of what is going on. Without that knowledge, you risk making things much worse than they already are with some poorly chosen words or a disrespectful attitude. Only by remaining collected and calm will you be able to set the right course for everyone to follow.

Notes

This article features a translation of Chapter 10 of Book 16 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 16 here.

(1) A key element of Confucius’s teaching is the need to be fully present in every moment. In your interactions with people that means actively and sincerely engaging with them during a conversation rather than giving them an occasional perfunctory nod while they are talking to pretend that you are paying attention.

I took this image at Alishan in central Taiwan.

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

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Richard Brown

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.

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