2.20

Ji Kangzi asked, “How can I get the people to be respectful, loyal, and hard-working?”

Confucius replied, “If you lead the people with dignity, they’ll be respectful. If you’re filial and compassionate, they’ll be loyal. If you promote the skilled and train the unskilled, they’ll be hard-working.”

5.15

Zigong asked, “How did Kong Wenzi get the title ‘Cultured?’”

Confucius replied, “He was hardworking and loved to learn. He was also not above asking questions of his inferiors. That’s how he got the title of ‘Cultured.’”

7.34

Confucius said, “I can’t claim to be a sage or a noble person. But I keep on working at it without disappointment and I never get tired of teaching others.”

Gongxi Hua said, “It’s exactly these qualities that we students can’t imitate.”

8.21

Confucius said, “I can’t find fault with Yu. He lived on the simplest food and drink, but he showed his filial devotion with lavish offerings to the spirits. He wore shabby clothes in his daily life, but his ceremonial robes and caps were elegant. He lived in a humble home, but he exhausted his strength building irrigation canals to water the fields. I can’t find fault with Yu.”

20.2

Zizhang asked Confucius, “What qualifies a person to govern?”

Confucius replied, “If a person honors the five beautiful traits and eschews the four evils, they’re qualified to govern.”

Zizhang asked, “And what are the five beautiful traits?”

Confucius replied, “A noble person is generous, but not wasteful. A noble person works the people hard, but isn’t resented for it. A noble person has desires, but isn’t greedy. A noble person has authority, but isn’t arrogant. A noble person is dignified, but not fierce.”

Zizhang asked, “What do you mean by generous, but not wasteful?”

Confucius replied, “If you let people pursue what’s beneficial for them, isn’t that being generous, but not wasteful? If you put people to work on tasks they’re capable of, isn’t that working people hard, but not being resented for it? If what you desire is humaneness, what room does that desire leave for greed? A noble person is respectful when dealing with the great and the few, the high and the lowly—isn’t that having authority without arrogance? A noble person dresses correctly and has a serious expression—people look at the noble person with awe. Isn’t this being dignified, but not fierce?”

Zizhang asked, “And what are the four evils?”

Confucius replied, “To execute people without first giving them instruction is cruelty. To demand results without first setting expectations is tyranny. To expect timely results after being slow in giving instructions is thievery. To dole out something you must hand over and being stingy about it is bureaucratic pettiness.”