A house full of gold and jade cannot be safely kept forever. When wealth and honor leads to arrogance, it sows the seeds of one’s own downfall. To retire at the height of one’s own merit and fame, is in accord with the law of nature.
Scroll 34: Lao Zi
The ability to “listen and observe” is the door to life or death, the key to safety or danger. If a leader cannot listen and observe from diverse sources but relies only on opinions provided by his trusted sources, his plans will be deficient and incomplete. On the other hand, if he were to hear from diverse sources, and yet were to embrace this information in an unsuitable manner, or were to fail to evaluate them accurately, the resulting plans would still be disastrous.
Scroll 48: Ti Lun
Confucius said: “If everybody likes him, observe and study him carefully. If everybody dislikes him, also observe and study him carefully.” A virtuous sage will neither make decisions based on public opinions, nor insist that his personal opinion be the only right way. Instead, he will consider both sides of the argument and measure them by the standards of righteous virtue, so that good candidates will not be omitted from the government, and save the government from becoming corrupt and meeting with its demise.
Scroll 44: Qian Fu Lun
One of the biggest problems about a leader is that when he spends too much time on minor details and not enough time on what is really important. He can be too concerned about immediate issues but lacks foresight to plan for the future. History has shown us that such a leader will certainly bring forth destruction.
Scroll 46: Zhong Lun
Duke Qi asked Yanzi: “In the past, kings who dispersed their citizens and ruined their states—what was their leadership like?” Yanzi said: “While the country struggled in poverty, they craved for greatness and grandiosity. While their ability and intelligence were weak, they craved for absolute power and clung on stubbornly to their own views. They favored the flatterers and disdained those who were virtuous. They were arrogant and contemptuous of the
people. They did not impose consistent laws, nor did they set behavioral standards for the people. They misidentified purnacious officials as being intelligent, and assumed that
these officials’ oppression of the people was a sign of their allegiance. In great lavishness the leaders forgot their duties to the nation and merrily they waged war with no concerns for the welfare of the people. They were quick at convicting and executing the condemned but slow at rewarding those with a fine record of services. They delighted in causing miseries to others and took advantage of others’ sufferings. They have so little virtue to speak of that they could not possibly appease the people, and their ironclad rules could do little to transform the people. In other words, the reward system was insufficient to compel people to do good things, while the penalty system was insufficient to deter people from breaking the law. All the above will ruin a country. Now that the people despise the laws imposed on them, this is tantamount to the consequences caused by
leaders who dispersed their citizens and lost their states in the past.”
Scroll 33: Yan Zi