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New Art Of War: Learn To Network While Maintaining Your Integrity

New Art Of War: Learn To Network While Maintaining Your Integrity

PARK Jae-Hee

Feb. 29, 2008


Hello, I am Jae-Hee Park on The New Art of War.

In Western countries, the Bible is without a doubt the single most influential book, familiar to everyone and found in every culture. While no single book wields comparable influence in East Asia, the Analects of Confucius would certainly be at the top of the list. The Analects consists largely of a collection of dialogues between the sage and his students. The dialogues touch on many concepts. One of the most important of these is the idea of a junzi, or “gentleman.” To Confucius, a junzi was an ideal leader.

Junzi is Chinese for “son of a lord.” In Confucius’s time, junzi referred only to noble families whose status was hereditary. Confucius, however, used this word to mean an ideal human being. In the Analects, a junzi is a person who constantly strives for personal development. While Confucius’ depiction of the junzi has undergone extensive reinterpretation, his basic concept of an ideal leader is still relevant today.

First, a junzi is someone who “feels no discomfort even if others take no notice of him.” In other words, a man of virtue is not driven by praise or criticism. At the beginning of the Analects, Confucius says “Is it not pleasant to learn with constant perseverance and application? Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters? Is he not a junzi who feels no discomposure though men may take no note of him?” Confucius thought that a junzi was someone who never misses the opportunity to learn, who has many companions, and who has a strong heart not affected by other people’s opinions.

Second, “a junzi is open-minded and non partisan.” A man of virtue can become acquainted with anyone and treats everyone in an equal manner. In one example from history, King Young-Cho, the 21st king of the Joseon Dynasty, carved these phrases from the Analects on the monument outside Sungkyunkwan Academy: “Those who are tolerant and not partisan are fit to be a junzi while those who are partisan and narrow minded are only mediocre persons.” A capable leader is unbiased and treats everyone equally while a fallible leader takes one side and refuses to consider all people without prejudice.

Third, “a junzi should be slow in his speech and earnest in his conduct.” A man of virtue can become acquainted with anyone and treats everyone in an equal manner. A capable leader is “a man of action.” Likewise, Confucius once said, “He acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his actions.” A leader should act upon his words and be an example for all his subordinates to see.

Finally, “a junzi is affable, but not fawning; the ordinary person is fawning, but not affable.” A superior person knows how to get along with people but does not simply conform to others, while a mediocre person loses himself in the crowd. A capable leader can still get along with others while maintaining his own beliefs and personality.

A person’s position or educational background no longer determines whether or not he is a junzi. In similar fashion, a company’s sales volume does not necessarily determine whether a company is a corporate giant. Capable leaders should not be swayed by other people’s praise or criticism. They should know how to maintain themselves even as they are open and available for others. In sum, a true leader understands how to bridge the gap with others while sticking to his or her principles.

This has been a lecture on The New Art of War by Jae-Hee Park.

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