Sincere Thoughts and Rectified Heart

Author Charles Yeung

How to obtain a successful life? Confucian doctrine said, “Sincere thoughts, rectified heart, cultivate person, regulate family, govern states, make the kingdom in peace.” First we need to start from “sincere thought and rectified heart” as these two requirements form the foundation of personal cultivation. Because, without sincere thought and rectified heart, we won’t be able to do the following: “cultivate person, regulate family, govern states, and make the kingdom in peace.” Therefore, if we can value and practice to be sincere in thoughts and rectify our hearts, this will create a great influence to achieve a successful career.

“Sincere thoughts” means genuine and true in our thoughts, to be sincere and wholehearted, and deeds accord with words. We need to face ourselves and others with honesty. To ourselves, we shouldn’t deceive ourselves, and should not deceive others, saying words different from our hearts. To others, have we kept our promises? Have we devoted all our energy to our duties? The Analects of Confucius has a great explanation on sincere thoughts, “Worship gods as if gods were in present.” When we offer sacrifices to gods, whether gods are there or not, we need to behave with great respect as if the gods were really in front of us. Just as when a person in any position, doing any kind of work, needs to do it wholeheartedly and devote to it with all their energy to do the best on the current job.

To conclude the first step of a successful life, we must start from the “heart.” This step is called “sincere thoughts” and is also the most important step. For example, there was a story about the former CEO, Mr. Carl Wellerop of Pepsico, Inc. He had promised to be with his daughter for her birthday. On that day, while he and his wife were accompanying their daughter to cut the birthday cake, an important client suddenly called and asked to meet with him. On one side was his happy daughter, the other side an important client, but Carl told his assistant to pass his sincere apology to that client, and said he would arrange another time to visit him. His daughter noticed this and was very understanding. She told his father to go to meet that client. Carl said, “The client is important, but my promise to my daughter a month ago is more important.”

The next day when Carl went to the office, his first task that morning was to call and apologize to the client. His client wasn’t angry, but instead he praised him, “Mr. Wellerop, in fact, I have to thank you Because your deed reminded me, what a solemn promise means. Now I understand the reason why your company has become so successful.” Carl and this client became the closest business partners thereafter. Thus, sincerity has a most important position in dealing with people.

“Rectified heart” means our hearts must be rectitude. It’s not just for us, but mostly for our family, clans, corporations, society, and the general public. Rectitude is impartial; to be just and fair, without fear or favor. Partial means unjust and biased. If we rectify our thoughts, not just thinking about profit all the time, but constantly watching our speech and behavior, thinking about everything from the point of the general public, that is to cultivate our character with rectified heart.

The process of a rectified heart is the process of an administered heart. If one carries a selfish heart, he only thinks of personal benefits, even harming others for his own benefit when dealing with people. Then, it is probably difficult for him to have good achievements; as this kind of behavior is contrary to the general public’s goals. If we can remain with a rectified heart to benefit both others and ourselves, this is the heart aim for a win-win situation. When we deal with people, if we think about the benefit to others before our own gain and loss, we can achieve the state of mind that we would do our best with a clear conscience.

Sincere thoughts and rectified heart are the fundamental merits of life cultivation. At the end of the day, we need to apply them to daily life and to the workplace. These two skills for entering the secular world are deeply connected if we can have a foothold in the present and future society, and if we can achieve a healthy life or not. Only then can we confirm our life goal, following the three parts of planning, application and examination; unify our knowledge and actions, work hard on them, and continually make improvements. The improvements need to start from ourselves, start from now, start from sincere thoughts and rectified heart; then, we can make continual improvements in the future competitive world.


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