Leadership – Lessons from a Samurai

Greetings Leaders!

Growing up in Hawaii and being half Japanese (Hapa to those local to Hawaii), I was influenced a lot by Japanese culture. I often went to the .25 cent movies with my dad and we would watch Samurai movies such as Musashi Miyomoto or Zatoichi, The Blind Swordsman.

In the picture below (created by Steve Higgs), the Kanji character represents Samurai. Literally, Samurai means to guard or to watch. The Samurai lived by a code called Bushido which is represented by the Kanji under Samurai. Bushido can be summed up by the English words listed below it: Justice, Bravery, Benevolence, Politeness, Veracity, Honor and Loyalty.

A true Samurai is more than someone who knows how to fence with the Katana. Being a Samurai was a way of life. It involved eating, sleeping, living Bushido every day of their life. It meant self-sacrifice, control, discipline. A Samurai fought not only his opponents, but also himself. He constantly tried to better himself and strove for perfection. Thoughtful. Wise. Temperate. Controlled. Passionate. Focused.

When you consider your leadership journey, are you Samurai? Or are you a manager? Do you practice leadership 24/7, or just between 9 and 5, or worse yet, just when you have to. We need more leaders who are Samurai. Focus. Become a better leader.

All the best!
All the time!

Bushido 50pct

A tip for those of you who are not oriental, Asians are not all alike and each “Asian” culture is quite different. If you want to be respectful of an Asian, find our more about his or her specific culture, they’re all different. Think about it, we eat Italian, German, French, English or American food. I don’t remember the last time I went out for White food.

5 thoughts on “Leadership – Lessons from a Samurai”

  1. John, Thanks for the education about the Bushido code. It isn’t often that you hear about qualities like Benevolence and Politeness, but like most great leadership qualities, they are other-focused values. When we appreciate others we’re benevolent and polite as well as just and honorable. Thanks for the reminder.


  2. Hi Mike!

    Always an “honor” to have you drop by. I really appreciate all your posts and the work you do in the area of leadership.

    Thanks for the comments!

  3. Hi John!

    I was looking forward to read this post about the Samurai way (your server was down at the time).

    If all people lived by those principles the world would be a better place. The business world too.

    For some odd reason, the business world is the only place in society where is acceptable to “kill” other businesses. The ends justifies the means.

    I don’t believe in shortcuts. I don’t believe in living by a set of principles and working by other principles. I believe that everything that I do as an effect in the people that surround me. I’m dedicated to make a positive one.

    In the entrance of my home, my wife and I wrote the following three words:
    . Love
    . Family
    . Courage

    Every time that we leave and arrive home we remind ourselves of our values. Those values are our personal Bushido. The Bushido that we were taught and that we will teach our children.

    Thank you again for sharing this with all of us.

    Best regards,
    Bruno Coelho

    1. Hi Bruno!

      Thanks for sharing. I really like what you have on your wall. I worked with a gal who told me that she put the phrase, “Return With Honor” on a wall near the door. It was to remind her teenage son that there were lots of temptations out there, and that he would do well if he just remembered to return with honor.

      Thanks for the comments!!

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