Saturday, April 21, 2012

Confucious never said: "'Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life." -- The phrase does not appear in Confucius' Analects (''Lun Yu'').

The quote "Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life" just appeared on my screen in a pop-up ad, attributed to Confucius. Even theater agent at the De Wolfe Agency Wendy Scozzaro in London seems to think he really said that. This seems suspect to me -- like attributing a quotation to FDR or Winston Churchill because it seems vaguely appropriate. I had previously seen this on my office building's 'quote of the day', and it wasn't attributed to Confucius. Does anyone know if this quote really does come from Confucius, or was it taken from someone else?

I googled the phrase and, while I did find a few references to Confucius, most of the time the phrase was used in the context of 'the saying goes' or 'my father always told me'. It seems like a bit of folk wisdom, or a corporate suggestion. The phrase does not appear in Confucius' Analects (Lun Yu).

I'm curious to know as well. I'm dubious that Confucious would have emphasized "choosing" very much. He was much more into meeting social obligations and the expectations of your betters.

That's true, and it would've been very difficult for someone to choose their job in Confucius' time. It was even difficult in 19th-century Europe/America. If your father was a farmer, you get to be a farmer. If your father was a blacksmith, you get to be a blacksmith. Most men would have known from an early age what they would grow up to be, and many were likely exposed to it so much and so early that they would at least like the job. (Some forms of the quote use 'like' instead of 'love'.) It really seems like the quote comes from What Color Is Your Parachute? or some similar book, or is just something people have said, and it's been back-attributed to Confucius to make it look more wise.

Exactly. Wendy in London, wake up. Fact check your quotes, next time. Don't be so lazy!

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