Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Next Samurai

I like to read books. Not like my wife, who reads several books a month, but I still like to read. I like to take my time reading a book to savor it, live in its pages as long as I can. A good author makes me remember experiences I have had and makes me feel as if I am experiencing something I never have before.

When I read a good book I feel the cool, oozing river mud between my toes and practically choke on the foul smell of decay that rises from the brackish slime. When a wizard sends forth a spell from his wand, staff or hand the hair on my head and arms stands on end from the sheer power passing by and my teeth vibrate as the power impacts with its prey.

Many authors satisfy my literary tastes, though I prefer fantasy with magic, swords and mythical creatures, I also delight to read science fiction with its tantalizing view of the world that is about to materialize in a not so distant future.

A friend of mine loaned me a book that does not fit any of these categories, nor does it satisfy the literary taste buds, but it did give me so much to consider that I find myself reading, re-reading, highlighting text and then pondering its applications. While this appears to be a reading ritual you would undertake with the scriptures in hand, the actual book is far from the divine word.

A Book of Five Rings, written by Miyamoto Musashi, is basically a how to book for the Samurai warrior. The chapters entail lessons on how to fight and defeat your enemy. Having said this, most every Japanese businessman has a copy of this book that he keeps with him and studies.

One of the first pearls of wisdom offered is this: Carry a long sword to fight enemies, but also carry a companion sword (short sword) for when the fighting gets up close and personal.

As I have read through the book I can see applications to life in many of the techniques taught for sword fighting. There are many parallels that can be drawn from these examples that can be effective in all aspects of life, but especially in business.

The automobile industry and others have often wondered how the Japanese operate so well. Maybe the CEOs of those and other companies should get a copy of A Book of Five Rings and do a little studying of their own.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Rules of Jason Bourne

I just finished reading the 3 books in the Bourne series by Robert Ludlum, then watched the movies. The movies are only vaguely based on the books, but still fun to watch. Throughou the series, Jason Bourne repeats to himself and tells others his basic rules of being a spy. I thought the rules applied to other areas, so I compiled a list. Here is what I noted down:

1. You are not helpless. You will find your way
2. Instinct. Follow your instincts, reasonably, of course
3. Don’t crucify yourself
4. Nothing can be disregarded
5. To blend in, change your appearance, your hair your face.
6. Read the newspapers every day.
7. Stay controlled.
8. The success of any trap lies in its fundamental simplicity.
The reverse trap by the nature of its single complication must be swift and simpler still.
9. Use an advantage given to you.
10. Do the unexpected. Confuse the enemy, throw him off balance.
11. Don’t run. Running identifies you as a target.
12. Opportunities will present themselves. Recognize them, act on them.
13. Don’t make your moves when you’re tired or exhausted. Rest is a weapon. Use it. Don’t forget it.
14. Work on the visual. It’s more effective than anything else. People will draw the conclusions you want on the basis of what they see far more than from the most convincing lies you can tell them.
15. Study everything. You’ll find something you can use.
16. The cleanest escape is one done in stages, using whatever confusion there is.
17. Establish a benign contact as soon as you can. Especially in an unfamiliar face where there could be hostility. The contact could give you the opportunity or the time you need.
18. Avoid elevators whenever you can. They’re traps.
19. Your first reflections are the best, the most accurate, because the impressions are stored in your head, like the information in a data bank. That’s what your head is.

If you noticed any rules I missed, let me know.