"When all psychological blocks are removed ... the swordsman will move without conscious effort." Sword master Muneyoshi Yagyu (1527-1606) The Storekeeper and the Thief
In Japan in the last century, storekeepers were considered lily-livered weaklings. One storekeeper became sick and tired of this reputation. To prove that it was totally false he took lessons at a martial arts dojo. He devoted himself religiously and after some years he became an expert.
After closing his shop late one night, the storekeeper and his wife started home down the dark streets. They had just turned the corner when a man holding a knife stepped out of the shadows and ordered the storekeeper to hand over his money.
At first he refused, but when the thief charged him, growling, "You miserable merchant, I'll cut you to pieces," the storekeeper lost his courage, fell to his knees, and began to tremble with fear.
Suddenly his wife cried out, "You're not a storekeeper, you're an expert in the martial arts."
The storekeeper turned his head and looked at his wife. "Yes," he said, "I am."
He stood, a warrior now, totally fearless, completely calm. He let out a powerful katzu, "battle shout," and leaped at the thief. He defeated him easily in a matter of seconds.
In feudal Japan, a poor practitioner of chado, the Way of tea, unwittingly insulted a ronin, a masterless samurai. Outraged, the ronin challenged the servant to a duel.
"I'm not a warrior," the teaman said, "and I'm very sorry if I offended you. I certainly didn't mean to. Please accept my apology."
But the ronin would have none of it. "We meet at dawn tomorrow," he said, and as was customary he handed the terrified teaman a sword. "Go practice," said the ronin.
The servant ran to the home of a famous sword master and told him the terrible thing that had happened.
"A unique situation," the sword master said. "For you will surely die. The thing I might be able to help you with is isagi-yoku, the art of dying well."
While they talked, the teaman prepared and poured tea. The masterful way he did it caught the eye of the sword master. He slapped his knee and said, "Forget what I just told you. Put yourself into the state of mind you were in as you prepared the tea and you can win this fight."
The teaman was shocked. The sword the ronin had given him was the first he had ever held. "What state of mind?"
"Were you thinking 'I'm a teaman?' " asked the master. "No. I wasn't thinking at all."
"That's it!" The sword master laughed. "Tomorrow draw your sword and hold it high over your head, ready to cut your opponent down. Don't think you're a teaman or that you're a swordsman. Just listen. When you hear him shout, strike him down."
The next morning the ronin appeared on the field and the teaman immediately raised his sword overhead, his eyes on the ronin, his ears waiting for the battle cry.
For long moments the ronin stared at the raised sword, and the determination in his opponent's eyes. Finally the ronin said, "I cannot beat you." He bowed to his opponent and then left the field.
The problem of these two men should seem familiar. Their predicament is one we all encounter every day. Our opponents aren't usually thieves and they certainly aren't wandering samurai ronin, but that's not important. Those weren't the main opponents anyway.
The primary battle, the main event, was going on inside the storekeeper and the teaman. To win on the outside, each had first to come to terms with an inner opponent, a powerful dragon.
Nowadays we call it by assorted names—self-concept, self-image, self-estimate. It's your internal, private opinion of the kind of person you are and of the actions you are or are not capable of performing. It directly controls how successful you are in fighting your personal and business battles and how full and enjoyable your life is.
"Don't Get Caught out of Your Unit"
Some years ago I consulted with a nose-to-the-grindstone organization that had a rule that no one from one unit was to visit another unit during working hours. Wherever you went you heard people saying, "Don't get caught out of your unit."
Your self-concept is like that rule. It says, "Whatever you do, don't get caught out of your self-concept." It says it all day long, every day, and in doing so it restricts your fighting ability.
It is continually telling you to stay inside its definition of the kind of person you are . . .
' "You're a sensitive person, so act sensitively. If you don't, shame on you, feel guilty."
• "You're the kind of person who has things under control. Oops, you lost control. Well you're going to have to suffer for it. I think I'll make you feel remorse."
• "You're an effective manager in a big corporation, but you're for the birds at running your own business."
• "Talking to people face to face—that's your strength. But woe betide you if you try to sell over the telephone."
• "You're clumsy. Go through life stumbling around."
• "You're just a teaman. There's no way you can defeat a ronin in combat."
Stick to your unit and there's a whole huge world outside you'll never get a chance to visit.
• Some people tell themselves they're losers, and because of it they go through life consistently losing fights, friends, money and opportunities. Stick to a loser unit and by definition you can't win.
Other people will tell you, "I'm not very good at getting to know strangers," or "I'm not a fighter ... a good listener . . . good at math ... the leader type . . . very thoughtful . . . studious . . . friendly and outgoing ... a risk-taker," etc.
And they say, "I can't sell . . . make a lot of money ... get to appointments on time . . . save money . . . make the big deal . . . compete with younger people at the office," and so on.
Many people have such narrow self-concepts they're living in a unit that's only a fraction of the size of their true ability. They possess the capacity to defeat thieves and ronin any time they wish, but they don't realize they do. Some people—maybe you know a few of them—have self-concepts so narrow and confining they can hardly do anything.
If your self-concept is right for you—if you're happy with it—by all means keep it. But if it's bringing you defeat, if you're dissatisfied with it, you may wish to (1) change it, or (2) operate without it.
"I'm a Warrior, Not a Storekeeper:" Changing Your Self-Concept "Let your mind be free to function according to its own nature."
One method for releasing yourself from a self-concept that's too limiting is the one illustrated by the story of the storekeeper. The storekeeper option means that you replace the restricting self-concept ("I'm a cowardly storekeeper") with a more useful one, one that enables you to win more of your battles ("I'm not a lily-livered storekeeper, I'm a warrior.")
In and out of business, this type of storekeeper-to-warrior rapid change of self-concept is bringing people to a new view of themselves, to a this is-the-real-me illumination. For some, all it takes is a particular insight-namely:
Self-concepts are fictions. They are not real in the way a flower pot is real or a desk is. They are merely ways you have chosen to view yourself. From this insight it's a short, leaping step to the next: "Hey, since I made up this damned self-concept and it's holding me back, all I have to do to increase my possibilities is to create another one."
A salesman heard about the storekeeper and the thief and realized immediately that he was acting like a storekeeper when all along he had the potential to be a warrior. He experienced a sudden illumination, a kotsunen nenki, and he came out changed.
He analyzed his sales performance and found that his per-customer sale averaged about two thousand dollars. Why? Because, as he put it, "I was believing I was a two-thousand-bucks-a-shot salesman." When he upped the "price" of his self-estimate and said, "I'm not a two-thousand-dollar-a-shot guy anymore; now I'm a twenty-thousand-dollar-a-shot guy," he soon started making twenty-thousand-dollar sales!
Watch Your Tongue; Your Thoughts Too
Many of us are overlooking our abilities. We persist in thinking we're storekeepers when if we just thought differently about ourselves we would see what warriors we are.
Many business people tell themselves they're not creative. They realize that creativity is a vital element of business, particularly its leadership, but they claim they just don't have it. Yet researchers have demonstrated that as soon as people start thinking "I am creative" instead of "I'm not creative," creativity increases, even in a matter of minutes.
Listen to the things you say about yourself and think about yourself that begin with "I am," "I'm not," and "I can't." They are your self-concept in action. And they directly control what is possible for you.
Hank, a middle-level executive, sits in his office complaining that less capable people are leapfrogging over him to high-paying jobs. Ask him what the problem is and he'll tell you, "I'm no good at political infighting." In fact, Hank's as clever as hell and has the mind of a marvelous strategist. Here is a potential warrior who persists in telling himself he's a storekeeper.
Robin tells herself, "Ah, I lack willpower. I just can't stick to a diet." And because of it she has real problems losing weight.
Jim will tell you he's socially awkward, is no good at small talk and hates parties. And because he tells himself the very same thing, he's exactly right.
People are what they are because they keep telling themselves they are. If they stop telling themselves they are, they change.
If people say to you, "I just can't talk in front of large groups," or "I'm not the sales type," or "I'm not a sensitive person," and then ask you if there is anything they can do about it, you might suggest that they never, never say that again. Then suggest they counter every "I'm not" or "I just can't" with a
Saying it isn't enough. The maxim "To know and to do are one and the same thing" means that what's in your head doesn't count for anything unless you translate it into action, "body knowledge," taiken.
It's not enough to think, "Hey, I'm not just a storekeeper, I'm really a warrior after all." To defeat the thief you have to fight.
It may be that you're weary of your current "I'm a timid person" self-concept and you wish to be bolder. Why not try the behavior on for size? All behavior is nothing more than an act, a performance. Act the way a bold person acts and you are bold. Act the way a political infighter acts and you are one. Do this for every "I can't" and "I'm not" and you will see that you can and you are.
Find a model, someone who does well what you would like to do. Watch how he does it, then do it the same way yourself. Many people know how to drive before ever sitting behind a wheel because they have watched others doing it. It is said that Musashi, the "sword saint," never took a lesson; he just watched masters and imitated them.
Or borrow a little from a number of models. Tsunetomo Yamamoto, the samurai author of Hagakure, complained that there were no models for the perfect samurai in his day. He advised that the would-be warriorshould make a composite model by looking at many samurai and choosing the best features from each. '
Choosing the Samurai Alternative:-• Operating Without a Self-Concept "Forget about death, forget about the enemy, forget about yourself; keep your thoughts motionless."
The sword master advised the teaman, "Tomorrow draw your sword and hold it high over your head, ready to cut your opponent down. Don't think you're a teaman or that you're a swordsman. Just listen. When you hear him shout, strike him down."
In sales training sessions I often use a simple role-playing exercise that's designed to demonstrate the samurai alternative. The samurai alternative is not replacing your old, limiting self-concept with a new and improved one. It's not thinking you're a cowardly storekeeper or a poor teaman, but it's not thinking you're a warrior either. It's not holding any self-concept in mind, but just striking down.
After everyone in the training group has played the part of a salesperson making a presentation to a potential customer, I ask them to list the things that they did well during the role-play and the things they would like to improve upon. Then we discuss the "like-to-improve-upons." Sam says he's no good at thinking on his feet. He goes blank. A real salesman, Sam says, is able to handle himself smoothly.
Gerri says her problem is talking too fast. Her words come shooting out so fast she often says the wrong thing. She gets flustered. She blows sales.
One by one, they all have to tell me about their "improve-upons." Midway through every description of a problem I stop the speaker and say something like "I'm not sure I understand what you mean. I'll tell you what: show me how you would like to be able to do it." Then I just sit back and watch the amazing thing that almost always happens. Virtually every time, they are all able to do what they said they had trouble doing or could not do at all. Sam, for example, actually does think on his feet, and responds smoothly and quickly to the prospect's objections. Gerri actually becomes a more composed, together, non-flustered and relaxed saleswoman. Shy people who wish to act more boldly and self-confidently actually do. Those who wish to improve their body language do so. And tough, defensive people who "always" argue and who want to be more friendly and warm succeed in acting that way.
In the words of the samurai, I have prompted each of the role-players to act directly without letting their self-concept affect their performance at all. They're doing before their self-concepts have time to inform them, "You just got through saying you couldn't do that, so it doesn't make any sense for this guy to ask you to."
What the role-players learn is precisely what the sword master taught the teaman: You can do what even you believed you couldn't if you forget about your self-concept totally and just strike.
The perfect action, says Takuan, is one that leaves not a hairbreadth's interval between the urge to action and the action itself. "When a flint strikes steel, a spark immediately issues forth." Samurai Tesshu Yamaoka says, "Cast aside all specific designs and rush to the attack the moment you see your enemy in the act of unsheathing his sword."
The samurai alternative is not concerning yourself with your self at all. It is letting no inner view of yourself intervene between the idea of an action and your performance of it. It is sparking immediately, like a flint striking steel. And it is rushing to the attack without concerning yourself with specific opinions about your capabilities.
When you allow nothing to interpose itself between the impulse to action and the action itself--no thoughts such as "I'm not a good extemporaneous speaker and I've got this damned talk to make"—you enter the powerful psychological state of mushin. It was the mind state that the sword master coached the poor teaman into. It was the state the samurai always tried to reach when going into battle.
Mushin means "no-mindedness," or "without thought." It doesn't mean living and conducting business without thinking about what you're doing. That's not mushin, it's stupidity. Mushin means doing whatever you're doing without any thought about your "I ams," "I can'ts" and "I'm nots," or any concern about "what bad thing will happen if I lose this battle" or "what great thing will happen if I win it."
The opposite of mushin is ushin, "the mind conscious of itself," or self—consciousness. You're experiencing ushin whenever your internal opinion of yourself makes you concerned with your self instead of the action at hand.
When you're in ushin, your thoughts about yourself and how you're coming across inhibit you. You worry too much about the importance of winning and the possibility of losing, about what others will think of you and about protecting your own inner view of yourself: "Oh, I could never do that; I'm not good at that kind of thing. It would be embarrassing if I tried and failed."
Here's an ushin experience that someone in business is going through right now.
A company vice-president asks you to give a speech "sometime" to about ten executives on new approaches to improving productivity. It's a little scary, but you think, "Listen, it's a chance to get noticed." You say "Sure."
Two weeks later you receive a memo from the company president stating he will personally attend "this important event." You start thinking, "This is a bigger deal than I thought. Maybe I shouldn't have agreed to do it. But on the other hand if I impress old R.J. I'm on my way."
You read some books and journal articles, only to discover that there's a lot on productivity but just about nothing on "new approaches." You start getting nervous about having anything worthwhile to say.
A few days later you bump into Harry on your way back from the coffee machine. He tells you your speech has been moved up to next Wednesday, and another forty plant managers are flying in for it. You look down and notice your hand shaking and your coffee spilling on Harry's pants.
Tuesday night comes and you're at home nervously trying to organize your speech. You tell yourself, "It just doesn't fit together. It doesn't make sense." You picture yourself at the podium going blank and turning beet-red with embarrassment.
Your little daughter comes in carrying a teddy bear. She asks for a good-night kiss and you're so worried about the speech you kiss the bear by mistake.
Attaching and Non-Attaching
"Victory goes to the one who has no thought of himself." Shinkage School of Swordsmanship
More than two thousand years ago Chuang Tzu wrote a description of a situation so relevant to contemporary business and personal life that he could have written it yesterday.
He wrote that when an archer is shooting and no external prize is at stake he possesses all his skill. The moment a prize is riding on the shot, even a brass buckle, the archer becomes nervous. If the prize is more valuable, as a quantity of gold, "he shoots as if he were blind."
The archer's skill has not changed, Chuang Tzu says, but the importance the bowman has attached to the prize has made him care too much. Because he is thinking more about winning the prize than simply shooting the arrow, his performance suffers.
Describe this situation to competitive archers of today and you will receive the same response I always do: "Chuang Tzu is exactly right. I shoot much better when I pay no attention to the prize."
You can easily demonstrate the same principle for yourself. Try finding a job when you need one desperately, or making a sale when you have to make it or be fired, or asking for a date when you've struck out fourteen consecutive times, or negotiating a contract the loss of which will mean bankruptcy court. When you need to perform or else, it's more difficult to win and far easier to lose.
• Now think of a time when you didn't desperately need to perform
•well. It was when you already had a great job that the job offers came. It is always easier to make a sale when you've already surpassed your quota, or to get a date when you're going to have to bump someone else to make room for this one. When the pressure is off, success is easier.
It was the same thing with samurai. From the kyudo tradition comes the story of the archer who could shoot with complete calm at ground level, but who broke down when he had to shoot standing at the edge of a cliff.
If you have ever performed better when you didn't need the prize, you have experienced one of the key concepts of samurai fighting—non-attachment, the path to mushin. It is shooting for the prize, but doing it as if you weren't, and possessing all your skill.
Non-attaching is doing whatever needs to be done, but with the element of self removed. It is being completely engrossed in the action you're engaged in and nothing else—not your worries about what might happen, not your visions of your own skill or greatness, not your self-concepting "I ams," "I can'ts" or "I'm nots," not the raise you'll probably get if you win this battle or the date or the sale. Non-attachment is living with all your power directed at one thing and one thing only— whatever is to be accomplished, without any misai no ichinen, "trace of thought," left over for anything else.
It is not not caring. Non-attachment doesn't mean indifference or lack of concern with what you're doing. It means just the opposite—be vitally concerned with the task in front of you. But only it.
Non-attachment is not worrying so much about prizes, results or byproducts of your efforts. What the teaman wanted as a by-product of the fight was to live. And he did live, because the sword master taught him not to worry about living or dying or anything else, but only to strike.
When you take the non-attaching approach, you tell yourself: "If prizes of money, fame, praise and honors come my way because of my achievements that's fine, that's wonderful. If my company expands its business, that's great. But when I'm in action I'll do far better once I shelve my thoughts of prizes for a while and just strike, concerning myself only with doing what there is to be done."
Mushin and non-attachment sound "Eastern" but in fact are just as close to Western traditions. In 1899, American psychologist William James observed that people were really trying too hard to achieve their goals. He believed that there was a healthier way to operate, one that was far more likely to help people reach their goals. His recommendation was to cut off "egoistic preoccupations" about results. Do that, he said, and ironically the results will be twice as good. What James was saying was: if you wish to double your effectiveness, non-attach.
Frederick Herzberg is one of the leading authorities on worker motivation. His extensive research studies found that high satisfaction at work is brought about by factors which he called "satisfiers," and that satisfiers motivated people to superior effort and performance: when satisfiers are in effect, you feel better and you perform better too.
What are the satisfier-motivators? They are factors intrinsic to the job, particularly the work itself. Workers are motivated when barriers between themselves and their work are reduced, when they are allowed to focus on the work, can assume more—not less—responsibility for it, have more freedom to do the job and are allowed to face new and more difficult tasks.
In their studies of the highest-producing salesmen in all fields, Robert A. Whitney, Thomas Hubin and John D. Murphy found what studies of high producers in any field of business normally find. Although these salesmen usually had higher incomes than the poorer performers, it wasn't attachment to the reward that drove them to work hard: "The doing of a job itself—and doing it successfully—seemed to actually be the thing that motivated them most and brought them greatest satisfaction."* Like the master archer, they thought more of the shooting than of the winning, and because of that they won.
What Herzberg, as well as Whitney, Hubin and Murphy, found to be true of modern business, the samurai knew hundreds of years ago: people will be far more successful in their work when they are able to clear their mind of everything extrinsic to the battle at hand, including self-concepts or rewards, and are able to attend solely to the battle—when they are able to non-attach.
I>Attaching Management; Non-Attaching Management
Self-concepts, mushin (without thought) and ushin (self-consciousness) and attachment and non-attachment are bottom-line issues affecting the productivity of entire corporate work forces.
* Robert A. Whitney et al., The New Psychology of Persuasion and Motivation in Selling (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1965), p. 35.
Remember Bill, the fellow who ran the day-to-day operations of an organization of three thousand people? He told me that he wasn't going to make any decisions; he had made that "mistake" the year before. There is more to Bill's story. The reason he didn't intend to make decisions was that he'd made some the previous year that almost got him fired. Bill managed to talk his way out of trouble, but as a result of the experience he was left with a deep scar, a wound from the organizational wars, and it made him afraid to go into battle again. He became a conscientious objector to making decisions.
As Bill confided in me about his fear of making decisions I was reminded of a psychiatrist who once told me that for every "crazy" person in a mental institution there is a person on the outside who drove him crazy, and the one walking around on the outside is the really crazy one.
Bill is a product of attaching management. It's self-consciousness, us/n'n-creating business leadership. It's crazy-making management that destroys the best aspects of the company's work force by making personnel afraid of making mistakes, fearful of expressing themselves, reluctant to try the new and innovative, secretive and guarded, suspicious of others and defensive. Attaching management makes workers protect themselves against any possible assault from the outside. People and organizations alike have only so much energy. When the energy is directed at protecting the self against attack, it isn't being directed at goals and objectives.
Non-attaching management is very different. Workers in these firms have self-concepts, but they are not constantly under the threat of attack. There is a given in these firms, and it is simply: trust. Trusting management evaluates the quality of a person's performance but not the quality of the person. That the worker is O.K. is a given in non-attachment companies.
Trust goes hand in hand with productivity. Management that is able to rid workers of constant ushin self-consciousness, that helps them non-attach instead of attach, increases productivity and personal effectiveness. It enables its work force to be in the most highly productive state of working, to be in mushin. On their own, workers will tackle more difficult goals when job-oriented non-attaching management is in effect. Will they under self-oriented attaching management? You know the answer as well as I. No way.
"Your army will win," says Sonshi, "if it is animated by the same high spirit throughout its ranks." To animate it, take its thoughts off itself and let it think only of goals and tasks, let it think only of striking.
Research has shown that non-attaching leads to success in the classroom. If the teacher is able to maintain a non-threatening atmosphere, student productivity—learning—increases. On the other hand, the student who is made to worry excessively about his performance—who attaches—may well develop "performance anxiety." The performance-anxious student doesn't perform as well, usually receives poorer grades and drops out of school more often than the less anxious student of equal intelligence.
All business managers (and all classroom teachers) get the level of output they deserve. If there is something wrong with productivity, look first to someone's failure to create a non-attached environment.
Strategies for Reaching the Samurai Alternative "Tomorrow's battle is won during today's practice." Samurai maxim
• Call your self-concept on what it's trying to do. Let it know you see what it's up to. Let's say ... —you're about to take a job interview and you're scared silly;
—you see an attractive person, want to ask him/her out but don't because of your shyness dragon;
—you turn down a strategically important opportunity to speak publicly, telling yourself, "I'm a terrible speaker;"
—you worry constantly about the future;
—you dream of making a significant change in your career or private life, but are stopped short of the actual doing when you remind yourself you're not a risk-taker.
. . . First, alert yourself to the fact that you're out of mushin and in ushin self-consciousness, and that it's your self-concept that's putting you into it. Then say to yourself, or just think it if you're with other people, "Hey, self-concept, I know you're trying to make me feel . . . (scared, shy, worried, upset). I know you want me to be ushin self-conscious. I've fallen for that in the past, but not now—I'm just going to switch you off and go ahead without you."
• Fall seven times and get up eight.
Ushin self-consciousness is at work whenever you feel low-spirited about having failed or the prospect of failing. The need not to fail in any enterprise is a power-drainer extraordinaire. Give in to that need and the result will always be the same—you will settle for less.
Instead of settling for less in business or life, why not accept failure as an inevitable part of living? Do that and you will no doubt find what the following story from the Way of the samurai illustrates—to fail isn't nearly as harmful as the need not to.
Ten men were forced to escape from their hometown. They had double trouble: one, to escape safely they would have to climb over a treacherous mountain, and two, they were all totally blind. Yet they started out, hand in hand, up the steep mountain trail.
They reached a cliff and all became terror-stricken and unsure of themselves. Suddenly the lead man fell off. The remaining nine wailed, "Oh, how awful. How terrible."
Then from below came the cheerful voice of the fallen man. "Don't be afraid. I'm all right. I landed on a ledge. All the time we were walking I kept thinking how horrendous it would be if I fell. But I
fell and it was really nothing. If the rest of you want to feel better I suggest you fall as quickly as you tt can.
That's the samurai spirit of "Falling seven times and getting up eight." It applies not only to samurai warfare but to the everyday events you encounter in business and personal life. If you fall . . . when you fall . . . just remind yourself to fall seven times and get up eight.
• Pay more attention to the job to be done than to the opinion of others. One of the major prizes we're shooting for constantly is the favorable opinion of other people. Most se//-consciousness is really other-consciousness. Struggle too hard to please others and you'll find yourself shooting poorly much of the time—even at work.
Whatever you do for a living, there are whole armies of others doing the same thing. Most of them are indistinguishable from each other because they are all trying to be what they think they are supposed to be. Locate the high-excellers and invariably what you'll find is the unique one who has found what the samurai calls his "original face " He's paying attention to what he wants, not what others tell him he should want.
• Be ready for others to try to make you re-attach yourself to them. Your self-concept is not your private property; it's under joint ownership. When you start stepping out of your self-concept and acting differently, invariably somebody is going to tell you to return to your unit.
The landmark Hawthorne studies of worker productivity revealed that work groups' norms can restrict output. When a "new guy" was found to be working too hard he was told by old-timers to slow down. If he didn't, he was told again. If he persisted he was "binged"—hit sharply and powerfully on the shoulder till he got the message.
From day one of your life there have been people around to tell you you're a good person or a louse, a competent worker or a bungler, one of God's chosen or one of the damned, a good student or a poor one, outgoing or introverted, smart or dumb, a sweetheart or a sourpuss. Parents, teachers, friends, co-workers and others are constantly telling you what kind of person you are and "should" be. They're binging you back into their concept of you all the time. Be ready for it to happen, because it will.
• Try being less careful and more spontaneous. Practice throwing caution to the wind every once in a while. Don't give yourself the time to wrap yourself up in ushin self-consciousness, just strike like lightning.
• Think more of shooting than winning. Remember the paradox of non-attachment: shoot for nothing and you have all your skill, but shoot for a prize of gold and you'll be drained of power. Stop thinking of all that's riding on your action, from "Will she go out with me?" to "Will I make the sale?" Just ask her out; just sell.
• Refuse to blame yourself. Self-blame—for shortcomings, failures, falls and defeats—will rocket you right out of mushin and into self-consciousness. Instead of blaming, try forgiving yourself.
• Value effort, not just success. An attitude of "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing," simply won't wash in most business or personal situations. Constantly worrying about being perfect is ushin. The only thing that's perfect is your perfect right to make mistakes.
• Evaluate your performance, not yourself. If everyone at the table leaves your stew uneaten, you might want to take a look at your culinary abilities. When your sales performance starts skidding, if you're wise you will take a good, hard look at the causes, which may in fact be in you. But—and it's an important but—adamantly refuse to tie your self-respect to any performance. Never confuse what you do with what you're worth. That's attaching. Rate your performance, but don't rate yourself. You can begin by always asking yourself performance-oriented rather than personality-oriented questions. Instead of "Am 1 any good at making money?" ask yourself, "How can I make money?" Rather than "Do I really belong in sales?" ask yourself, "How can 1 learn to sell more effectively?"
Final Words on Reaching the Samurai Alternative
• Your self-concept is your inner belief about the kind of person you are and what you are and are not capable of.
• Countless people are losing their battles not because they lack ability, but because they are confined by a narrow self-concept.
• The storekeeper option is replacing a limiting self-concept with a more useful one.
• The samurai alternative is operating without a self-estimate, but with mushin, "no-mindedness." It's casting aside all specific designs, even designs about who you are, and rushing to the attack.
• Ushin is "the mind conscious of itself," or self-consciousness. An ushin mind is an uptight one.
• Archers who think too much about winning prizes don't shoot very well. Whatever you're shooting for, you're more likely to hit it if you've non-attached, shifting your attention from the winning to the act of shooting.
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