A Gentleman Is Not an Implement.
A true gentleman is not like an implement that has a fixed form and its operation subject to its properties. This term originates from The Analects by Confucius (551-479 BC). What Confucius meant was: first, an implement has its fixed form and properties. However, a gentleman’s vision should not be limited by its form and properties; instead he should know all their basic functions and be a man of broad knowledge. Second, a gentleman should not stop at knowing only one type of skill for making implements. Instead he should explore all basic rules governing the operation of things, i.e., he should see beyond tangible things and master their intangible rules of operation. This perspective was accepted and further developed by later scholars. The concept still applies today. That is to say, one should not be satisfied in fulfilling his own duties only but should bear in mind the big picture, and better understand and abide by basic principles and universal laws.
Zixia said: “All craftsmen accomplish their tasks by working hard in their workshops. A gentleman should master universal laws by assiduous study.” (The Analects)
The gentleman said: “A man of high virtue will not be limited to work at one official position. A universal truth does not apply only to one thing. Good faith does not require making pledges. Changes of seasons do not follow the same pattern.” One who is fully aware of these four rules will be able to master fundamental laws. (The Book of Rites)
A good farmer may not be able to work as an agricultural management official. A clever businessman may not be able to work as a market management official. An experienced craftsman may not be able to serve as a manager of the manufacturing trade… One who excels in the operation of one specific thing may operate well that thing only. One who excels in universal laws is able to manage all things. (Xunzi)