Leadership Lessons from Confucius: the way

Confucius said: “A person can enrich the way; the way cannot enrich a person.”

No matter what path you chose to follow, you will only get as much out of it as you put into it. The only way you can truly learn and improve yourself is through action. You cannot just sit there passively and expect to get ahead; you need to take the initiative in following the course you have set.

This article features a translation of Chapter 29 of Book 15 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 15 here.

(1) Confucius was a relentless critic of people who espoused their belief in the highest ethical principles and values but failed to put them into action in their daily lives, or, worse, used their self-proclaimed virtue for personal advantage. He was a strong advocate of “walking the walk” and had no time for those who simply “talked the talk.”

(2) Confucius is referring here to the way (道/dào) of the Zhou. This should not be confused with the way that is promoted in the Daodejing. There were many different “ways” or “paths” in ancient Chinese philosophy.

I took this image at the Mencius Cemetery in Qufu.

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