10.1 Ways of the 21st-Century Samurai


The Samurai has long intrigued the world’s imagination.


While much of the writing about the samurai has focused mainly on bloodletting, the samurai’s strict adherence to a code of conduct is packed with many lessons that help to map a path to success.


As Terukeni Uki, a samurai teacher at a martial arts near Tokyo’s Imperial Palace, summed it up, the modern significance of the tradition is to teach the art of winning.


“Here we teach the spirit of winning, but it’s not so much defeating an opponent as overcoming one’s self,” Uki said in an interview with National Geographic.


“These days it seems everyone is looking for someone to blame rather than focusing on himself. We’re told to believe that unless you graduate from the best university and are somehow elite, you’re a loser. Our message is that if you try hard, you will enjoy your life,” he added.


Indeed, in modern times there is lot that can be learned from the ancient spirit of the samurai to cope with the demands of an increasingly harsh and fast-paced world.


1. Know what you want.

Famous for their exploits in battle, the samurai always knew what they wanted, and they went to all the lengths to get it. The samurai knew the danger of dilly-dallying, and that’s why they gave their all to a chosen goal. Like the samurai, you define and refine what exactly you want out of your life. Your purpose must be crystal clear in your mind that you turn neither to the left nor to the right in your quest.


2. Get the right tools.

Before going into battle the samurai always checked his tools, that is, the weapons that he would use to conduct the fight. In the same vein, you must fashion yourself properly in your chosen field. You must do a check on the tools that are required in the battlefield of your chosen contribution to humanity. Without the right tools, you will not be able to get what you want. That is why the samurai always took an inventory of the weapons that were required so that he would not be found wanting at the battlefront.


In addition, you must enhance your skills and competencies before you head out to the playing ground. Preparation is a key ingredient in your quest for achieving your deeply cherished goals.


3. Give it your all.

On the battlefield, the samurai sacrificed everything, including his life. Not to say you have to commit suicide as the samurai did but you must give your all to your chosen path. You have to put in the time and energy to be able to reach your goal. The way of the warrior demands that you stay fully committed and determined to undergo the arduous journey that will lead to success. You absolutely have to give all your mind, heart and soul. Like the samurai, you must refuse to allow obstacles to deter you from following your dream.


4. Stay true to the code.

Values are the lifeblood of success. They help you to determine and even predict the choices that you make especially in times of crisis. You need to define a code that will guide you like a compass on the journey. You must never, never compromise your principles.


5. Be at your best.

The samurai teaches that you cannot do battle when your spirit is half into it, otherwise you expose yourself to the wiles of the enemy. Excellence is not a given, it’s a function of the decisions and choices that you make.


6. Conquer your fear.

When the samurai went to the battlefield, they threw fear to the side, and jumped into battle like a fish into water. Fear is like a virus. It slowly infects, then ravages your whole system, and stops you from going after what you want. But why did samurai throw themselves so wholeheartedly into battle? It is because they were crystal clear about the path they had chosen.


The first thing to know is that we are never born with fear. Rather, our life experiences inject fear into our spirits, little by little, until we become immobilized to take action.


But fear is also a product of having no cause in your life, not dedicating yourself wholly to that which you really want. Hesitation becomes the order of your being.


7. Get out of your way.

Habit is the greatest cancer in the world. It is very to atrophy and yet still get an impression that you are alive. You can be “dead alive,” so to speak. Thinking that you are enjoying your life but in reality you are simply slipping into a cesspit. The way of the warrior is to get out of your own way. Self-sabotage reduces your chances at advancement. In everything that you do, you must strive to choose what really matters.


8. Improve your soul.

The soul is the key to all the world has to offer. There is something in life bigger than the reality of being. Being in itself is a small, non-significant speck of the whole that defines existence. In the beginless, wherein it is begotten, being makes no real choice. Something other than being is responsible for defining factors of the beginless that eventually gives birth to being. The samurai knew that sojourning in the dark valley of being yields no results. That’s why he dedicated to consistently improving the state of the soul.


The philosophies of Buddhism and Zen, and to a lesser extent Confucianism and Shinto, influenced the samurai culture. Zen meditation became an important teaching due to it offering a process to calm one’s mind. The Buddhist concept of reincarnation and rebirth led samurai to abandon torture and needless killing, while some samurai even gave up violence altogether and became Buddhist monks after realizing how fruitless their killings were


9. Dedicate yourself to the arts and nature.

Take a cue from the samurai, and put a spark in your imagination by dedicating yourself to the arts. The arts and nature teach us that there is an endless world outside the miniscule reality of being.


10. A sword never rules.

The best of the samurai knew that real power lies outside the sword but in the spirit — the spirit to conquer self. Nothing can ever be achieved without conquering self. Self is perhaps humankind’s greatest enemy in today’s world. Everyone looks outside self to attach blame for failure in his or her life. They do not realize that they are equally played in contributing to the position that they find themselves in their life.


Conquering self is a life mission. It is something that has to be practiced all the time. The best of the samurai knew that to be able to really and truly master the sword they had to go deeper onto their spirits to master the energy of controlling the sword.


10.1. Be a servant.

The word “samurai” is derived from the archaic Japanese verb “samurai,” changed to “saburau,” meaning “to serve”; thus, a samurai is a servant, that is, the servant of a lord. You must absolutely change the way you think about making a contribution to whatever cause stirs your heart. Being a leader means zero if you have nothing to offer. It’s not about position. The samurai were content to serve their master to achieve a cause, using their skills and competencies. The applied what they knew to the mission that they had identified. 


How to Shine Up the Career Ladder

In a corporate world that is increasingly over-crowded, highly competitive and ever-changing, getting a promotion can indeed be a hassle.  But, through deliberate, well planned steps, and a willingness to take initiative, you can put yourself at the front of the line for a promotion.  


First things first: If you keep yourself sheltered away from the attention of your bosses, you will always miss the opportunity to climb up the corporate ladder.  A promotion typically means having more responsibility.


So you have to position yourself as a person that has the aptitude, value and capability to meet the requirements of a potential promotion.  


Develop career goals. You must be absolutely sure about where you want to go. Start maintaining a career journal where you write down your career goals. It’s important to make sure that the promotion is in alignment with both your credentials and personal goals. Develop long-term, medium-term and short-term goals that will keep you grounded towards a career upgrade. If you find it difficult to envision, consult a career coach to help you develop a clear perspective of what you want to do. A coach will help to expand your vision and push you to function at your peak.   


Do your current job well and more. If you want to make it to the top of the corporate ladder, do your current job well. Demonstrate honesty, empathy, trustworthiness and an ability to be a team player. See every challenge and responsibility as an opportunity to shine, and to sell yourself to your organization. Always review what you are currently doing and identify gaps that can allow you to do more. The surest way to get promoted is to do more and better than is expected of you. Show the value in yourself and create a demand for your abilities.   


Make a contribution. Start right away to contribute ideas and suggestions to improve processes, practices and profits of your company. To grant you a promotion, your company has to be satisfied with your value. Get all the facts about your ideas. Having more information will increase chances of your ideas and suggestions being accepted, and put you in favor to get promoted.


Keep a portfolio of your work. You must maintain a portfolio of work contributions that are directly connected to the position that you seek. Never make an assumption that your bosses know what you’re doing. Without being big-headed about it, let your organization know of your accomplishments. Gain visibility with your current job successes.  


Review job descriptions. Be clear about the additional responsibilities involved in the promotion as well as the salary level. In your career journal, keep job advertisements that underline the major duties or responsibilities of the job you want to promote in. Make a note of the qualities, attitudes and outputs required for that upward career opportunity. After you have identified these attributes, the next step is to put them into practice to prepare yourself for a promotion.  


Update your resume. Take time to review your current skills and accomplishments, including what you’ve learned in your current position. Update your resume so that it reveals your talents and hidden skills. Make sure your resume is specific to the potential career upgrade. Remember: Highlight unique qualifications and background. A well-written resume can significantly improve your chances to landing a promotion.  


Develop your skills. Identify areas that need improvement: don’t just focus on your strengths. In your career journal, make a note of areas of weakness and strive to improve in those areas that are critical to your promotion. In an ever-changing business environment, you must constantly update your skills to enhance your chances to get promoted.  Consult and learn from experts in your field. Find out what they did to succeed, what they would do different, and steps that you can take to improve your chances of a promotion.  


Take Courses in Your Field. Many companies require a potential candidate for promotion to have an advanced degree. Like it or not, having an advanced degree exponentially increases your chances to move to the front of the promotion line. Target unique qualifications. Read books, join a professional association, attend seminars and do courses that will build your knowledge, skills and abilities.  


Market yourself. Make full use of every opportunity to sell yourself. If you’ve got it, flaunt it and don’t wait quietly for someone to acknowledge you. Make sure that you demonstrate your ability to hold a higher position with flair and confidence. Also, show how your past achievements have contributed to the growth of the organization. When it comes down to the selection process, make sure to put your best foot forward, just like you did when you were first hired.    


Get networking right. If you want to fly like an eagle, then you have to stop taking lessons from chickens. Avoid co-workers and people that will pull you down through negative talk, and fill you with frustration over your desire to get a promotion. Associating with winners will fill you with a positive outlook on life and your career opportunities. Surround yourself with people that are success-oriented, and will encourage you to take the big leap forward towards a promotion.   


Make yourself outstanding. There’s no doubt that polish and presence are critical ingredients for a promotion. Be open to new inputs and ideas. Become an expert in your field. Write articles or a book. Develop a dress sense that shows you are headed for the top.  


Positioning yourself for a promotion at its most fundamental is an inside job. It’s a matter of finding what you want, and expressing that essence and character in everything you do.  


With hard work and an effective strategy, you can raise your stakes to get a promotion. 


So don’t let anything stop you.

Never Give Up

Many people have dreams.

And for a good reason – it’s important to have dreams because it is only through dreams that the horizons of self, humanity and civilization can be expanded.  

Dreams are about reaching for something higher and greater than our present self. 

But everyday challenges and obstacles of life, including the desire to make a living through a secure job – usually force people to give up on their dreams.  

For most of us, as we go through the tumultuous cycle of life, it can be very easy to lose sight of our dreams.

With the rat race constantly clamoring in our heads, committing our dreams to suicide is certainly the easy way out. 

In other cases, it’s the people around us – families, friends or society in general – that drills it down into our brains that we cannot ever achieve our dreams. 

As they say, the graveyard is the richest place in the world because of all the unrealized dreams and potentials. 

If our deeply held dreams were ever easy to achieve then it would never be worth it to have them in the first place.

Achieving dreams takes struggle but the ultimate reward can make you enjoy your life much better. 

Paradoxically, giving up dreams is perhaps the easiest thing to do especially if the odds seem to be against you.

In order to achieve your deeply held dreams, you have to first change something very fundamental about yourself. 

The universe offers energy in abundance, and it is what we do with that energy that determines whether we achieve our goals or not. 

To keep your dreams alive, you have to channel your energy toward developing skills and habits that can direct you toward your dreams.  

For example, if your dream is to be a writer, you must channel your energy towards writing rather than simply chat about it.

As is said, you cannot be a piano player in your head, you must play the piano. The fact is that if you don’t change your attitude toward your dreams, you will never be able to achieve them.

There is an invisible quality about dreams that gives them potency only if fed through decision-making, planning, commitment to action and ongoing analysis. Nothing is out of your reach unless if you choose to hold yourself back.

With a few changes, you can achieve the limitless possibilities that your life has to offer. It is possible to live a life of passion, purpose and mission if only you are willing to shake off the clutches of your comfort zone. 

After all, you only have one life to live, and you might as well make it worthwhile by going after your most cherished dream. 

The responsibility to keep your dreams is yours and yours alone. You’ve absolutely no-one to blame if your dream becomes just another fairy tale fit for wonderland. Make sure your dream does not become just another castle in the air. 

If we choose to abandon our dream, we risk becoming slaves to other people’s projects, and undoubtedly, we will gather a lot of bitterness, and regret. 

Take an audit of your situation. In order to reawaken your dream, you need to take an audit of your situation. Why is it that you have not taken the appropriate actions to achieve your dream? Who are the people around you that speak negatively about your dream? What about yourself do you need to change in order to move in the direction of your dreams? There are many more questions that can be asked, but taking an audit is simply intended to get you set in a whole different trajectory towards your cherished dreams. 

It’s hard work. Going after your dreams is not like eating ice-cream it certainly takes hard work to go after your life’s dreams. If you must take risks, these should be perfectly calculated. But you should not be afraid of the blows they’re an important part of the journey.  

Be prepared to get bruised but never let that stop you from moving forward. You must strive to make yourself accountable to your dreams through pre-determining your actions, and doing things that are aligned to achieving your dreams. 

Life is a balance. If you want to achieve your dream, you have to let it go. Sometimes, you have to go down the wrong pathway in order to know what you really want. It sound like a paradox but it is so true that it’s when we are lost in a desert that we come to know the value of water.

Learn to appreciate your present circumstance, and see them as the key to your desired goals and dreams.  More important, accept that life is a balance, and there’s more to it than just achieving your dreams. Seek to live your life to the fullest even when the dream appears to be elusive, and you will see new opportunities opening up to you. 

Now is the time. Many people dream of some miracle day when suddenly everything will open up, and the path to their dream will become as clear as daylight. Others think they have to accumulate more wealth and knowledge before they can start moving in the direction of their dreams.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The steps towards your dream are built in the present. It’s in the now. The thoughts and choices that you make form the foundation of whether you will achieve your dream or not. In fact, your thoughts and choices are the very lifeblood of your dreams. 

Get to understand your dream again. Take time to re-look at your dream again. It may have gathered rust during the time of neglect and despondency. It may not exactly be what you still want to do or become. If the dream is still the same, then set yourself to action through clearly analyzing your desires.  Have a crystal clear vision of what you want to achieve. 

But you have to understand that achieving your goal does not always have to be a linear process; sometimes you have to go through the backdoor to become what you want to become. The key is to set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-specific little goals that will contribute to achieving your grand vision. 

Listen to your soul. Some people settle for the comfort zone. They have a good job and a good salary but are empty inside because they are not pursuing their heart’s desire.  

Forget about the dreams that the world sells to you, or what other say you can or cannot do.  Listen to your soul, and listen to it carefully, for within it are the secrets to your happy and fulfilled life. 

Make a decision to go after your goal. Once you have a grasp of what you want, the next step is to make a decision to go after it. Take time to reconnect and recommit to your goal. Write down your dream. It helps you to see it.  

Be clear about your values because these guide your decision making in the long-term. You must take time to analyze what skills and abilities are required to set on the pathway towards your dream. After that, the next thing is to power up your performance towards your dream.  Change your perception of self.

Failing to achieve our goals not only forces us to settle for mediocrity, it also negatively affects our self-esteem and self-worth.  A pre-requisite to taking positive actions towards your goals is to develop new, but healthy ways at looking at yourself. Judging yourself through past experiences weighs you down and slows you from achieving your goals. 

Develop habits that propel you towards your goal. By changing the focus of your habits, you can indeed change your chances to achieve your dream. Your habits make you who you are. To be more specific, habits refer to recurrent, often unconscious patterns of behavior that are acquired through frequent repetition.  

It is an established disposition of the mind or character. You have to stand back from yourself and analyze what kind of person you are and whether that is in tandem with the dreams that you want to achieve. If its not, then its time to change. Habits make or break dreams. 

Have positive energy. Positive energy is the gateway to your dreams. If you allow the disappointment of the present to weigh you down, you will not be able to reach for your star. Reaching for your dreams is a state of mind that believes in the possible.  

Having positive energy will empower your passion for your dream and propel you towards your goals. When you develop positive energy to pursue your dream, you begin to get the results that you seek. 

Track your time. Time is a key ingredient in the shaping of our dreams. So how we choose to spend it really determines whether we achieve our dreams or not.

If you choose to stay glued in the front of a television box without committing to your dream, you will not be able to realize anything.  Make sure to dedicate your time to your dreams through doing the little steps that will get you there.  

The path to your dreams is defined by the little steps that you take.