The Samurai Mindset
Want to improve your physical and mental toughness?
Want to ensure you win every battle you enter, be it on the battlefield or in the board room?
Apply these 10 lessons from the ancient Japanese Samurai…
1. You Must Have Ambitious Goals
There are few, if any, goals in modern life that compare with the ones Musashi set for himself. But all achievement starts with goals, and Musashi emphasized that you should be ambitious in setting them. Ambitious goals will help you focus your energies, abilities, and actions to maximum effort.
Taking action without a goal in mind is like driving your car with no destination in mind.
You’ll spend your time and resources aimlessly, getting very little in return.
Set an audacious goal and spend your time and energy grinding away.
2. Understand Incredible Results Are The By-Product Of Incredible Discipline
There is, of course, nothing new about the role of discipline in developing skills of any kind. But Musashi’s accomplishments make it crystal clear that achieiving incredible results requires incredible discipline – knowledge that can be applied to any endeavor.
Results, be in the gym or in business are the result of consistent effort.
Of course, there’s days when you don’t feel like writing that content or going through that workout.
That’s where discipline comes in. You must do the damn thing regardless.
Tired? Unenthusiastic? Lethargic?
Discipline is what seperates the individuals that go ahead and get it done from those that decide to take a day off (and get mediocre results).
3. Keep Yourself In Fighting Trim
Like the Samurai you need both physical and psychological exercises to stay physically sharp and mentally alert. You also need to continue training in your “weapons” – the special skills and techniques required by your field of endeavor – to survive and prosper.
When an opportunity presents itself you need to be ready.
You need to be prepared to go all in.
Whether you’re a professional athlete, a musician, an entrepreneur, a comedian, a men’s physique competitor – your chosen discipline is irrelevant.
Last year an opportunity arose at the last moment for me to take part in a paid photoshoot to advertise some outdoor workout equipment, the guy that was supposed to do the shoot was sick and out of shape, the photographer only found out at the last minute.
If I neglected one of the 3 pillars required to ensure you’re ready, in this case the body I would not have been able to grab hold of that opportunity.
It was sub 10% body fat, I was ready to shoot.
“Give me 2 days to dehydrate and tan and lets do it” I said.
2 days later we did the shoot.
If I were 20% body fat and said “give me 6 weeks to run through my cutting regime” the photographer would’ve laughed, hung up the phone and called the next guy.
In the fitness industry your body is your resume, there’s no off-season – you can’t tell the photographer, the contest judge, your clients or anyone for that matter that it’s ‘off season’.
Off season may as well be called ‘I’m letting myself go’.
If you want to seize these opportunities when they arise, you must stay ready.
4. Prepare In Advance For Everything
He was a master at preparing for a battle beforehand because his goal was to never leave anything to chance. He taught that the warrior with the prepared mind is favored, no matter what weapon is used.
Don’t leave things to chance, don’t wing it.
Spend your evening planning for the following day.
This can be as simple as laying out your gym clothes, preparing your meals and creating your to-do list so you don’t fall victim to decision fatigue come the morning.
5. Upgrade Your Software
As it is obvious that at a very early age he trained his mind as vigorously as he did his body. Except for the automatic functions of the body, the mind is the “software” that directs the physical actions.
You must not only lift weights and perform intense exercise to strengthen your body, you must also ‘lift weights’ for the mind so to speak.
This is as simple as enduring the likes of cold showers daily.
6. Learn From Your Opponents
It was apparent this ability to observe, learn and adapt nearly instantly that made it possible for Musashi to become an unbeatable swordsman without having a tutor. The obvious lesson here: Study your opponents and competitors carefully. Know their strengths and their weaknesses precisely. Learn from them, adapt your approach to take advantage of their weaknesses, and then defeat them before they realize you have changed your tactics.
Most intelligent stockbrockers will tell us that the past is not a good indicator of the future, but it’s the best indicator we’ve got.
Fighting in a cage? Study your opponent’s previous fights like a hawk.
Starting a new business? Study the start-up process and shortcomings of similar businesses in your niche.
Looking to start a new diet and workout regime? Look back at what you’ve tried before and the results you’ve netted.
Looking at our opponents can teach us not only what we SHOULD do to attain success but also the things we SHOULDN’T do.
7. Pay Big Attention To Small Things
One of the more popular axioms of the Samurai reminded them to treat great things casually and small things seriously – as if their life depended on these details, as it often did.
Pay immense attention to detail as the smaller things don’t always take care of themselves.
8. Harness The Power Of Silence
This silence created an aura of mystery about him that was often an asset.
When you talk less you can achieve more…
Let your success speak for itself. Follow the above rules, work hard and do what you say – don’t waste your time gossiping about others or bragging about your latest achievement or success. When you are truly successful others will tell you – there is no need to cheapen the accomplishment with your own words.
9. Use Your Mind As A Weapon!
Musashi repeatedly said that it was far better to defeat your opponent weith your mind than with a weapon – meaning that it was better to first “strike” with the mind to weaken or virtually disarm an opponent and then, if necessary, use your sword to finish the job.
Pattern interrupts, criticism… there are many ways to get into your opponents head and weaken them before the battle begins.
Hell, two of the modern greats – Arnold Schwarzenegger and the UFC’s Conor McGregor are both big advocates of implementing psychological warfare.
10. Don’t Become Too Rigid In Your Approach
Whether in battle, business, or sports, people tend to go with what they have been taught and what has worked for them in the past – even if it is not working in the present. The moral of course, is don’t get stuck on any one way of doing things. You are more likely to succeed if you change your tactics the moment it becomes obvious that the old ways are not working.
We all fail in our endeavours.
Instead of seeing this failure as a dead end and continuing to try the same approach again and again you must see failure as a report card – as an indication that change is now necessary.
Here’s where you’re coming up short, unless you want to see the same result again (which forms the definition of insanity) it’s time to improve, pivot and make the necessary adjustments.
Want To Learn More Samurai Lessons? Check Out These 3 Books…
Samurai Strategies: 42 Martial Secrets from Musashi’s Book of Five Rings
Samurai Mind: Lessons from Japan’s Master Warriors
Soul of the Samurai: Modern Translations of Three Classic Works of Zen & Bushido