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The idea of reaching for success in life is nothing new and sometimes turning towards the past for wisdom that’s worked for centuries can be the smartest move a person can make.
One such figure comes from the swirling mists of the ancient Chinese civilization and some of the quotes attributed to him have been translated for thousands of years.
However, before we get to the quotes let's look a bit more at who Confucius was and why some of his quotes can help you.
Confucius (pronounced “kuhn – fyoo – shuhs”) was born in 551 BC and died in 479 BC. He is considered alongside a pantheon of other ancient Asian philosophers as one of the founding fathers of civilization.
His early years were spent in administrating law and order but he quickly became renowned as a phenomenal diplomat and negotiator.
The social conditions surrounding him at the time were of an empire led by an elite that was only interested in enriching themselves, and not in defense of their empire or for the advancement of the common people.
A founding tenant in Confucian philosophy is that those in positions of power must only keep their positions as long as they have the ability and the merit to earn them. In many ways, Confucian thought is the beginning of ruling a society through a meritocracy and not through hereditary lines of succession.
- “If one learns from others, but does not think, one will be bewildered. If, on the other hand, one thinks but does not learn from others, one will be in peril.”
- “When I walk along with two others, from at least one I will be able to learn.”
- “To be wealthy and honored in an unjust society is a disgrace.”
- “Good people strengthen themselves ceaselessly.”
- “Words are the voice of the heart.”
- “You cannot open a book without learning something.”
- “Acquire new knowledge whilst thinking over the old, and you may become a teacher of others.”
- “We should feel sorrow, but not sink under its oppression.”
- “I have not seen a person who loved virtue, or one who hated what was not virtuous. He who loved virtue would esteem nothing above it.”
- “Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?”
Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?”
- “If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for 10 years, plant trees. When your plan is for 100 years, educate children.”
- “The essence of knowledge is, having it, to apply it; not having it, to confess your ignorance.”
- “When we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.”
- “I'd rather die for speaking out, than to live and be silent.”
- “It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve, and bad things are very easy to get.”
- “Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.”
- “Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star.”
- “Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”
- “When you see a worthy person, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy person, then examine your inner self.”
- “Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.”
- “If you look into your own heart, and you find nothing wrong there, what is there to worry about? What is there to fear?”
- “Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s roof when your own doorstep is unclean.”
- “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.”
- “Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.”
- “To see and listen to the wicked is already the beginning of wickedness.”
- “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
- “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trial.”
- “A man who has committed a mistake and doesn't correct it is committing another mistake.”
A man who has committed a mistake and doesn't correct it is committing another mistake.”
- “A person who chases two rabbits catches neither.”
- “How transcendent is the virtue of the middle conduct! Rare for a long time has been its practice among the people.”
- “He with whom neither slander that gradually soaks into the mind, nor statements that startle like a wound in the flesh, are successful may be called intelligent indeed.”
- “The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life”
- “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
- “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
- “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
- “By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart.”
- “Don’t curse the darkness, light a candle.”
- “Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.”
- “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”
- “The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.”
The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.”
- “Do not worry about holding high position; worry rather about playing your proper role.”
- “Study the past, if you would divine the future.”
- “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”
- “The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.”
- “Looking at small advantages prevents great affairs from being accomplished.”
- “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”
- “The real fault is to have faults and not amend them.”
- “No matter how busy you make think you are you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”
- “Those who cannot forgive others break the bridge over which they themselves must pass.”
- “A superior man is modest in his speech but exceeds in his actions.”
- “If you try to do too much, you will not achieve anything.”
- “The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.”
- “Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.”
- “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
- “The superior man makes the difficulty to be overcome his first interest; success only comes later.”
There’s something for everyone in these Confucius Quotes, we hope some resonate with you and help you work towards greater success in your own life. If there’s one thing Confucius was certain of, it’s that working hard always pays off in the end.
For more on success, check out these posts:
- The 80/20 Rule: How the Pareto Principle Can Transform Your Life
- 140 Wise Quotes About Love, Life, and Loving Friendships
- 65 Self Discipline Quotes to Build Mental Toughness
Finally, if you want to use these quotes to make a lasting change to your life, then check out and recite these 57 affirmations for success.
Tom Smith is a creative writer with over 6 years of professional experience. He discovered the joy of writing after covering some furniture in his childhood home with graffiti. In later years, he got himself a BA in creative writing and hasn’t looked back. After discovering the power of positive thinking and discovering the spiritual side of life, he believes it's a huge privilege to be able to write about all things personal development.