Don’t worry about not being recognized by others; worry about not having any reason for them to recognize you.


Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [論語, 论语, Lúnyǔ], Book 14, verse 30 (14.30) (6th C. BC – AD 3rd C.) [tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

(Source (Chinese)). Originally numbered by Legge as 14.32, but identified in modern translations as 14.30; the distinction is noted below. See also 1.16, 4.14, 15.19. Alternate translations:

I will not be concerned at men's not knowing me; I will be concerned at my own want of ability.
[tr. Legge (1861), 14.32]

My great concern is, not that men do not know me, but that they cannot.
[tr. Jennings (1895), 14.32; Jennings notes the unclear phrase could also mean "but that here is want of ability (in me to know them)."]

Be not concerned that men do not know you =; be concerned that you have no ability.
[tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898), 14.32]

(A wise man) is not distressed that people do not know him, he is distressed at his own lack of ability.
[tr. Soothill (1910), 14.32]

Not worried that others don't know me, worried by my incapacities.
[tr. Pound (1933), 14.32]

(A gentleman) does not grieve that people do not recognize his merits; he grieves at his own incapacities.
[tr. Waley (1938), 14.32]

Be not concerned over men’s not knowing of you; be concerned rather over your inabilities.
[tr. Ware (1950)]

It is not the failure of others to appreciate your abilities that should trouble you, but rather your own lack of them.
[tr. Lau (1979), 14.30]

One does not worry about the fact that other people do not appreciate one. One worries about the fact that one is incapable.
[tr. Dawson (1993), 14.30]

It is not your obscurity that should distress you, but your incompetence.
[tr. Leys (1997), 14.30]

Do not worry about men not knowing you; rather, worry about your incapability.
[tr. Huang (1997), 14.30]

I do not worry about that others do not understand me, just worry about that i have no talent.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998), 14.30, #370]

He does not worry about others not knowing him; he worries about whether he is capable.
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998), 14:30; they consider this a later interpolation, with 4:14 being the actual Confucian saying.]

Don't grieve when people fail to recognize your ability. Grieve for your lack of ability instead.
[tr. Hinton (1998), 14.30]

Do not worry that you are not recognized by others; worry rather that you yourself lack ability.
[tr. Slingerland (2003), 14.30]

Don’t worry about others’ not understanding you. Worry about your own lack of ability.
[tr. Watson (2007), 14.30]

Do not worry that other people do not know you. Be concerned about your own lack of ability.
[tr. Chin (2014), 14.30]

I am not concerned with not being known by others. I am concerned with my lack of ability.
[tr. Li (2020), 14.30]

Added on 25-Oct-22 | Last updated 8-May-23
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