9 Life Lessons from An Ancient Chinese Philosopher

IQ tests were not available during the time of birth of Confucius in 551 BC., but it is estimated that this ancient Chinese philosopher possessed an IQ of at least 170. The regular person’s IQ is 90-110 so it’s easy to see why this elder was so accomplished.

Confucius was a philosopher, teacher and politician in ancient China who created many social and political ideals that are still applicable today.

He was the one to term the “Golden Rule”, a version of which all of us know in one form or another : “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.”

His teachings included importance of family, respect of elders and social justice. Confucius authored many important texts in his lifetime, many of which were later turned into a set of rules and practices by his disciples. His teachings became a way of life. Many even believed that he was a prophet sent by God to guide the people.

Prophet or not, we can all learn much about life from this great man and his words.

Keep going
“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”

We’ve all heard the story of the hare and the tortoise and how the tortoise won by keeping on the path and never stopping even though he was obviously slower than the hare. Did you know that most people quit right before they are almost about to succeed? Sometimes success is just around the corner and your job is to keep on the path.

Continue after every failure
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Failure is a part of life. No successful man or genius reached to great heights without taking a few stumbles and falls. The only difference is that when these people failed, they got up, brushed off the dust, and went back at it. Failures can be disappointing, but we must not allow them to hold us back. Instead, look at failures as learning opportunities, gained experience and a great story to tell.

Be yourself
“I want you to be everything that’s you, deep at the center of your being.”

We all have innate talents, abilities and skills. Things that come naturally to us. So find out who you are. What you really want. What makes you happy? And when you figure this out, stay true to it, fight for it, and make it a daily part of your life. You cannot be the best by trying to be someone else. Instead, be the best version of yourself.

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

We have all heard it: practice makes perfect. Great pianists are obviously talented, but if they didn’t practice the piano, they would not be great. Talent is just a spark that needs to be nurtured with constant practice. Only then does it become a wildfire. Without practice, you risk wasting away your inborn talents.

Do what you love
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

When you are true to yourself, great things happen. A lot of people dream of retiring at 60. This is not because after the age of 60 human beings cannot work, but it is because these people are not really doing what they love. If you really love what you do, and be who you are, you would never want to retire. You won’t even feel like it is work that you are doing, when you are following your passion.

Give it your all
“Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.”

There is nothing worse than having a great idea, and then working without motivation on it, completely ruining it. Great ideas deserve hard work, dedication, and commitment. This is true even at the workplace. If you are not giving your best to your work, then your performance will suffer and you will remain mediocre, whereas if you go the extra mile and give it your all, your efforts and results will be noticed and perhaps even rewarded.

Learn through many means
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

The best part about education yourself and growing your intellect is that there is no one way to do it. You do not have to sit in a classroom to learn. There are so many other ways that you can do, even while sitting at home, or out there travelling the world. Allow yourself to be influenced by different forms of learning. You can learn something just by reading a book, watching a video, or talking to someone. Do not underestimate the power of a good conversation or an unexpected incident to teach you life lessons.

Control your anger
“When anger rises, think of the consequences.”

Anger is futile. Not only does it have negative physical effects on your body, like high blood pressure, stress, breathing issues, but it can also have dire consequences on your relationships. Words said in anger are often not the real intention of the one who says it, but once those words are out there, there’s no turning back. You achieve nothing when you act on your anger. When you are angry, count mentally to 10, take deep breaths, and think of the consequences of your actions.

Remain modest
“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”

If you think you know everything you will end up learning nothing new. There are so many languages, so many fields of study, and so many skills out there that no one human can learn and do them all. But too often people act like they know everything. Instead of this, spend time in uncovering areas of your interest that you would like to know more about and deep-dive into learning. You will not learn everything there is to know and learn, but in the process you will become a knowledge powerhouse. Even then, know that you don’t know everything. This modesty and realistic approach will help in your growth and continuous learning process.