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Everyone Admires The Bold Ones

"If you are unsure of a course of action, do not attempt it. Your doubts and hesitations will infect your execution. Timidity is dangerous: Better to enter with boldness. Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity. Everyone admires the bold; no one honors the timid." - Robert Greene.

Continuing our discussion on some of the quotes from Greene's book, this one talks about timidity and boldness. The first part of the quote advices us to be sure of ourselves and our decisions and choices before we implement them. Many times we see people carrying out decisions with a bit of hesitation. Not only does this affect their performance, it affects the trust that people have in that person successfully carrying out a task.

Imagine a CEO of a company introducing a radical change in his annual speech. There will obviously be a difference in the reception and acceptance of that speech if the CEO gives a strong and powerful speech as opposed to a meek and timid one. When one of Elon Musk's rockets failed to successfully launch, he did not come and give excuses. There is a video and several accounts of him giving a powerful speech and promising his employees that they will continue moving forward.

This quote not only applies to CEOs, it applies to all aspects of our life. With our colleagues, friends, spouses, etc. It s important that we be bold, because everyone admires the bold; no one honors the timid.

Excerpts from Hagakure, Chapter 1


I started reading "Hagakure," which was written by the samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo from 1709 to 1716. I don't agree with everything in the book - some of the things Yamamoto-sama says sound crazy to my modern sensibilities, but there's some powerful quotes in here about bushido. Here's some I liked, with some thoughts of my own -

We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaming one's aim is a dog's death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one's heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he pains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.

The first book of philosophy on bushido I read was the Budoshoshinshu. It had a significant impact on my thinking. One of the largest tenets of bushido is keeping awareness of your death in mind when you live. I try to do this, because it gives you a sense of urgency and importance.

A lot of times the principle is misunderstood - the principle is actually make preparations as if you'll live forever, but live this day that you'd be proud if it was your last. Bushido is not about being reckless. It's about keeping awareness of the end with you, and in doing so, living much more.

It's almost paradoxical - the man who is aware of his death, who relinquishes his claim on life, he lives much more fully. The man who is ignorant of his death does not live as much. Death is not something to be afraid of - it's something to be aware of. Being aware of it makes you more alive, and more effective, and more purposeful.

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