How were the old samurai ahead of us in mindfulness? Read on and discover the samurai inside you.
Starting the new year fired up with new intentions – we’ve all been there. We reflect on the old year and take all sorts of things upon ourselves for the new year, only to discover soberly a few months later that we have kept only a fraction of those oh-so-good resolutions. This is followed by a slight self-reproach or even demoralizing frustration.
This would not happen to a samurai.
“Improve yourself daily, be smarter than yesterday, smarter than today. This is a perpetual process,” said legendary Samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo.
The magic word in this quote is “daily”. Pause, reflect and improve yourself every day. Achieve small successes and work permanently on yourself, instead of hoping for some kind of miracle that could only start on the first of January. This applies to private life as well as to the business world.
Reinhard Lindner, who created the Samurai Manager® personnel development program, shows in his seminars that an astonishing number of samurai principles can be incorporated into our western professional life. It is about traditional values such as determination, courage, flexibility, serenity and natural intuition, but respect for the opponent, mindfulness and loyalty are also characteristic samurai qualities.
Mindfulness and serenity particularly deserve a closer look before we once again hurtle through the new year like a high-speed train. For the samurai, mindfulness often meant the difference between life and death. We don’t want to go quite so far here, but when applied to everyday business life, mindfulness is very often decisive between success and failure.
A Zen master was asked by his student how he managed to be so calm and relaxed. The master replied:
“When I sit, I sit. When I stand, I stand. When I go, I go. When I eat, I eat.”
The student, interrupting the master, said, “But I do, too!”
“No,” said the master. “When you sit, you are already standing. When you standing, you are already walking.
When you walk, you are already at the destination.”
Let's be honest with ourselves! Our thoughts are rarely in the here and now. Either they are already in the next meeting, at the next conference, on the next holidays, or they are churning around a conflict or a failure of the past days. Can we still manage to “endure” a whole meeting or a whole TV film without having to check something supposedly important on our smartphones?
This is precisely what mindfulness addresses. It also includes concentrating on your conversation partner, focusing on the currently pending issues and acting in a targeted manner; taking in nature on a stroll and not solving problems in your mind; playing with children and really playing instead of just pretending. At least our children are all spiritually samurai. They are 100 percent focused on their game and 100 percent in the here and now. Until they end up like us. Mentally bogged down.
And if we are already on good intentions for 2017, then we should take not only mindfulness but also serenity to heart. Who hasn’t been winding through the morning traffic to get ahead, and then become completely exasperated or even furious if another driver does not immediately release the lane.
Imagine a samurai getting annoyed in a fight and letting his emotions run wild. He would be easy game for his opponent. And we always have enemies in business life, even if they are not fundamentally hostile to us. But a conflict with a colleague, a dissatisfied customer or an unreliable supplier can make them a situational opponent.
Serenity allows us to remain calm and controlled, and to use our ingenuity. Because senseless resistance causes stress and saps our energy. Keeping calm improves our capability and also colours our environment. The law of resonance tells us that we attract everything that we radiate, so if you radiate stress, you will also get stress back.
It all sounds simple, but how do you learn attention and serenity? Practice, practice and even more practice. Reinhard Lindner teaches various approaches and methods in his seminars and in his book The Samurai Manager. But one thing is common to all of them: only continuous learning, observation and improvement will lead to success. And this would take us back to Yamamoto Tsunetomo.
In this spirit, we would like to wish you a mindful and serene business year in 2017!
Published: 10. May 2017