A boy from the village of Que was working as a messenger.

Someone asked Confucius, “Is he making any progress?”

Confucius replied, “Well, I can see that he likes to sit with his elders and walk alongside them—but he’s not interested in making progress. He’s looking for a shortcut.”


Zizhang asked Confucius about correct conduct.

Confucius replied, “If you do your very best to make good on your word, and you act with integrity and respect, your conduct will be effective, even among barbarians. If you don’t follow through on your word, though, and you don’t act with integrity and respect, you’ll have trouble, even in your own hometown.

“When you stand, see these words in front of you. When you ride in a carriage, see them resting on the crossbar. Only then will you make progress.”

Zizhang wrote these words on his sash.