Confucius said, “A leader who is not serious will not be taken seriously. Still, don’t be inflexible. Take loyalty and sincerity as first principles and don’t make friends with someone who isn’t your moral equal. When you make a mistake, don’t hesitate to fix it.”
Confucius said, “People make mistakes according to the kind of person they are. Look at a person’s mistakes. That will tell you what kind of person they are.”
Confucius said, “I give up! I’ve not met a single person who could see their own faults and correct them.”
Duke Ai asked Confucius which of his students loved to learn.
Confucius replied, “There was Yan Hui, he loved learning. He didn’t transfer his anger to the wrong person and he didn’t make the same mistake twice. But, he died young and nowadays there isn’t anyone who loved learning like he did. At least, I haven’t heard of anyone.”
Confucius said, “Failing to cultivate virtue. Studying but not making sense of what I study. Not practicing what I preach. Not correcting my errors. These things keep me up at night.”
Confucius said, “If I could add some years on to my life, I would spend about fifty of them studying the principles of change and I could be free of errors.”
The Minister of Justice in Chen asked Confucius, “Did the Duke of Zhou know the rules of ritual?”
Confucius replied, “He did.”
After Confucius left, the minister bowed to his prince, Wuma Qi, and told him, “I have heard that a noble person is not biased, but maybe some are.
“The Duke of Zhou married a woman with the same clan, and justified it by saying that she came from ‘the Elder Family of Wu.’ If the Duke of Zhou knew the rules of ritual, then who doesn’t know them?”
Later, Wuma Qi told this to Confucius.
Confucius replied, “I’m a lucky man! When I make a mistake, other people always find out.”
Confucius said, “Stand firm in doing your best and sticking to your word. Don’t make friends with people who aren’t your equals in this. When you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to correct it.”
Sima Niu was in distress. He said, “Everyone has brothers! I alone have none!”
Zixia said, “I have heard a proverb:
‘Life and death are up to fate,
Wealth and honors are up to Heaven.’
“Because the noble person behaves with reverence and tries to be free of error, is courteous to others and behaves with ritual correctness, all within the Four Seas are his brothers. How can a noble person worry about not having brothers?”
Qu Boyu sent a messenger to Confucius. Confucius sat with him and inquired, “What is Qu Boyu up to these days?”
“He’s trying to reduce his faults,” the messenger replied, “but he’s been unable to do so.”
After the messenger left, Confucius remarked, “Now there’s a messenger!”
Zigong was always judging people’s faults.
Confucius said, “Well, Zigong must have achieved perfection if he has time for that sort of thing. I’m not so lucky myself.”
Confucius said, “To make a mistake and not correct it—now that’s what I call a mistake.”
Confucius said, “There are three kinds of mistakes to avoid when serving a ruler. To speak out of turn is impetuous. To be silent when it is time to speak is secrecy. To speak without noticing the ruler’s expression is blindness.”
Confucius said, “In ancient times, people had three kinds of faults. These days, we’ve lost even these. In those times, the wild were daring—nowadays, the wild are simply out of control. In those times, the proud had principles—nowadays, the proud are bad-tempered and contentious. In those times, the stupid were straightforward—nowadays, the stupid are deceitful.”
Zixia said, “A small person will always make excuses to cover up their mistakes.”
Zigong said, “A noble person’s errors are like an eclipse. Everyone sees them. But when they correct the error, everyone looks up in admiration.”