This guest post is by Aman Basanti of ageofmarketing.com.
Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s Hagakure is the most famous text on bushido, the warrior code of the samuari. Written in an era when Japan was obsessed with warfare and martial prowess, the book offers instruction on how a samurai should live and die.
The most famous and misunderstood line in Japanese history
The most famous line in Hagakure is, “I have found that bushido means to die. It means that when one has to choose between life and death, one quickly chooses the side of death.”
Modern scholars find such a statement horrifying. The author’s obsession with death is disturbing. Even the Edo Confucians of the time condemned Tsunetomo’s morbid teaching.
Beyond first impressions
But if you look past the shock and absurdity of the statement, there is logic and sensibility behind Tsunetomo’s advice. In fact, once you understand what the statement is really saying, you realize that Tsunetomo is not preaching obsession of death; he is preaching freedom from its obsession.
What Tsunetomo is saying is that being afraid of death attracts it. Fear of death paralyses the warrior in battle stopping him from thinking clearly and acting correctly. When you accept death, however, you neutralise its paralysing effects. You become apt at dealing with the stress of combat. You become better at mobilising your martial skill, therefore increasing your chance of survival.
It is a great paradox that by accepting death you increase your chances of surviving in battle.
Samurais, bloggers and the fear of failure
But you are not a samurai. Why do Tsunetomo’s words matter to you?
Whether it is dying in battle or failing as a blogger, fear of failure paralyses people. Like samurais in combat, would-be bloggers get so consumed by the fear of getting it wrong that it stops them from starting on their idea.
After the excitement of researching the idea, of thinking of the possibilities, of counting the potential dollars in your head, doubt starts to set in. Do I have the time to do this? Will the people I have to market to or network with like my products, ideas and style? Will I be able to make this blog successful in time to quit my job?
You put off the idea for a week, a month … before you know it, another six months have passed and you are not