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 much closer to execution of your blog idea.
I certainly felt this way when I decided to start my blog. I wanted to get the design right. I wanted to get my strategy right. While some of the planning was important, much of it was just procrastination. I wanted to launch in November 2010, but I ended up launching in May 2011—six months behind schedule. In the end I stopped trying to get it perfect and took the plunge, and am glad for it. Improvement, like education, is a lifelong activity. You cannot wait till you know everything before you start.
Even after they get started, many bloggers do not give it their all. They do not work at it seriously enough. Why? Because that way they can still hold onto the mental comfort of, “I could have made it if I tried.” Just think of how many people you have met who will look at a successful person and say, “I could have been him or her if I tried as hard.”
Unfortunately, mental comforts do not put food on the table. They do not make you a celebrity. They do not win you interviews or awards. All they do is keep you ticking along until you are six feet under and not in a position to do anything.
If you are such an individual, Tsunetomo’s words could not be timelier. Accept failure. See it is as another aspect of life, as another season in the year, as another colour in the rainbow. Do not think of it as an end, but another starting point.
3 people who failed miserably before succeeding superbly
Don’t buy it? Then take a look at the list below. These are famous individuals who failed before they succeeded.
- Abraham Lincoln went bankrupt running a general store. Had to surrender everything he had, including his horse and navigation gear. Then went on to become the President of America.
- Walt Disney went bankrupt after his first film studio failed. Then invented Mickey Mouse and started the juggernaut that we today know as Walt Disney.
- Henry Ford went bankrupt after starting his first car business, Detroit Automobile. Then founded Ford Motor Company and never looked back.
Failure is not the worst thing that could happen to you, it is mediocrity. Failure lets you move on, mediocrity just stalls you.
Is the fear of failure holding you back? Has it done so in the past? Share your experiences in the comments section below.
Aman Basanti has written for a number of A-list blogs including ProBlogger, MarketingProfs and Business Insider. He shares his secrets to getting guest posts on A-list blogs in his new FREE e-book – Guest Posting Secrets: 25 Tips to Help You Get More Guest Posts. Visit Ageofmarketing.com/guest-posting-secrets to download it now for FREE (No opt-in required).