“What does it mean to be Samurai? To devote yourself utterly to a set of moral principles? To seek a still of your mind? And, to master the way of the sword?”
I’m fascinated by Eastern culture: It’s focus on the Internal as opposed to the External, devotion to Mindfulness and always being in the present moment, and just it’s overall philosophy on life. In fact, this is what part my room looks like:
One of the aspects I’m most fascinated by in the history of Eastern culture, and Japanese culture in particular, are the Samurai.
Just who are the Samurai, you may be wondering? They were an elite group of Japanese society: The military nobility. They are considered to be some of the greatest warriors in the world’s history, and were a fabric of Japanese society and culture for nearly 1000 years. They were men who lived by the Bushido Code: Righteousness, Courage, Benevolence, Respect, Sincerity, Honesty, and Loyalty.
They were so devout in their beliefs and code that, if they failed in battle, or shamed themselves or their family, they would commit a ritual called Seppuku: Taking their own life in shame by slicing open their intestines with a small sword.
Yikes. Now that’s commitment.
They were men who believed in, not only being great warriors, but great human beings. And, though ruthless and cunning, they were also known for their compassion and dedication to helping others. They were scholars, and advocates of intelligence, knowledge, and learning.
To them, being a great warrior meant more than the physical ability to fight. It meant becoming a complete and whole person, mentally and physically.
Even though the Samurai are long gone, their beliefs and philosophies on life, and the day to day, are things that we can use to this day to help us, not only grow and become more complete and whole people, but to also achieve the results we want in our lives.
This is how to live like a modern day Samurai:
Be Great: From the moment you wake, devote yourself to the perfection of whatever it is that you pursue.
Each day, when you wake up, you’re in pursuit of something: Your job, your career, your education, better health, more wealth, improving as a parent, being a better spouse, writing a book, building a home, teaching a class, etc. Whatever it is that you’re committing yourself to each day, no matter how small, devote yourself to the perfection of it, but most importantly, with the understanding that you can never actually achieve perfection. However, by aiming for perfection, you give yourself the best chance you can at getting as close to perfection as possible.
Be proud of the effort you put in, and the value you produce, in whatever you do.
Be Mindful: Every moment of every day, really be in and aware of that moment. Enjoy it, appreciate it, and be grateful for it.
One of my favorite people, James Altucher, has this saying: Don’t be a time traveler. Most people are off in a time machine re-visiting horrible past experiences or spending their day dreaming of a future that isn’t even here yet. This takes them away from where they are RIGHT NOW. You don’t have yesterday. You might never have tomorrow. Appreciate, be grateful for, and pay attention to TODAY.
When you shower first thing in the morning, be THERE. Feel the water. Try to feel it as it runs down your entire body, from the moment it touches your skin until it connects with the floor. When you sit down at the table for breakfast, don’t time travel to your office and dwell on those 20 emails you need to send to clients. The time to deal with those will eventually come, so dwelling on it now will only ruin your ability to enjoy your breakfast. Really be in the moment during your breakfast. Notice the tiny details in your toast. Notice the texture of it as you chew. When you get in your car and drive to work, look around you. What do you see? Pick up on the trees, the birds, the other people driving. If you’re sitting in traffic, be grateful that you live in such a great place that lots of people want to live there, just like you!
One day, I was in the moment during my breakfast and I noticed something I would have easily let slip by had my mind been off in some other far away place:
Being in the now takes you away from dwelling on time periods you have no control over. That’s what you want, because it’s the only thing you’ve got.
Be Disciplined: Become committed and devout to training and improving your skills, talents, abilities, and passions.
I work with athletes and one of the greatest myths is that talent and ability are the difference maker between getting great results or not, and between failing or succeeding. If you’ve got great talent, then you’re set and there isn’t anything left for you to do. Everything will just take care of itself because you’re awesome and you’re talented.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
There are millions upon millions of talented people in the world, in every area of life. The reason there are so few at the top is because they have an unbelievable discipline that they apply to their careers, passions, and selves every single day. It’s unwavering. There’s a saying: To be a master at something, you have to practice and train for at least 10,000 hours.
Every day, be disciplined in what you do, and have the discipline to constantly train and improve yourself and your skills at whatever you’re doing or pursuing. And, if you’re having trouble being disciplined, simply ask yourself, “What is the consequence of me NOT being disciplined here?” Then, think about that consequence for a good 30 seconds. Often times, that can really help to kick discipline into high gear and force you to take action.
Be Scholarly: Commit to continuously learn, educate yourself, and become a more knowledgeable person.
You don’t need to take out $30,000 of debt and go to college to learn, educate yourself, and become more knowledgeable. MIT audits all of the courses and puts them online FOR FREE for anyone to download. There are numerous websites like CodeAcademy.com and KhanAcademy.org where you can go and learn to code for free, or get college level information for free.
Watch videos such as documentaries. In fact, I’ve been in a documentary kick lately. I learned a ton about food, and how our food system is run, by watching the documentaries Food Inc. and Food Matters. Or, head to Youtube and watch videos on history, or a topic you want to become better at.
Read books. I have a personal rule for myself where I have to read for at least an hour every day. Last year, I read for over 500 hours. Reading is insanely important. It can take someone 20 years to learn something, they then write about it in a book, and you can learn 20 years worth of knowledge in a few days. That’s an incredible scale.
Be Growing: Completely devote yourself to a lifestyle of continuous and never-ending self improvement.
In the business world, Japan have devoted themselves a practice they call Kaizen: The practice of continuous improvement. Kaizen is something we can all use in our own personal lives on a daily basis. In fact, I think Kaizen is THE most important aspect of being human. I believe we’re primarily driven by knowing that we’re constantly improving and continuously making progress. It’s never the result that matters most. If that were the case, then everyone would simply give up once they got a result. But, that doesn’t happen, does it?
We’ve gone from living in caves to living in skyscrapers. We’ve gone from climbing hills to climbing Mt. Everest. We’ve gone from landing on the moon to landing on comets. Human beings absolutely thrive and depend on the knowledge that we’re growing and becoming better in some way. We don’t have to be at the end result to feel alive inside. We simply need to make progress.
Every single day, do one thing that can improve yourself as a person: Your mind, your health, your emotions, your perspective, your beliefs, your desires, your passions, your enthusiasm. Everything about you. I know that, for me, my only aim every day is to achieve two things:
1) Strive to be of Value, not of success.
2) Tap into and draw out more of my unlimited potential.
I know that if, every day, I commit to a lifestyle, or Theme, of providing Value to myself and others, as well as tap into and increase my unlimited potential as a human being, that I will perform well in everything I do, which will consequently bring to me the results that I want. I’ll become great as a side-effect of those practices.
So, live like the Samurai. Become a modern warrior. Every day, devote yourself to a lifestyle of greatness, Mindfulness, discipline, learning, and growing.
Oh, and whatever happens, please don’t commit Seppuku.