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Bushido for Bloggers: What Samurais and Bloggers Have in Common

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?

No fear

Copyright Galina Barskaya - Fotolia.com

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).

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Comments

  1. Kahonge says:

    A great article Aman, very inspiring, we should all learn from our failures, word!!!

  2. Hesham says:

    That’s a good one Aman, and yes “being afraid of death attracts it”, I am pretty sure this is correct!

    We all know that the more profit you want the more risk you have to face. I know that many bloggers want want to be in the safe side all the time, I think they won’t really succeed, no big deals!

    Failure is not the worst thing that could happen to you (if you can learn from it), and as you might know, maybe people succeeded just by sharing how they fail :) I did this once and my blog readers felt me more than when I was sharing my boring success stories!

    That’s a good read, thanks Ninja

  3. loulou says:

    Hello Darren

    I have not ever really feared failure – but in my human nature I do still fear dying – it is final – Failure is only temporary for me.
    I was once told “the door marked to success says push”.

    So I have grasped that and tried to go with it

    thank you for your informative post.

    Loulou

  4. Charlotte says:

    Thanks! This was right on time. As a new blogger, I need the encouragement.

  5. Ava Jae says:

    I’m certainly guilty of stalling my blog launch due to the fear of failure. I put it off for years in fact, before I finally launched (coincidentally, also this past May).

    Looking back, starting a blog was probably one of the best things I could’ve done. As a direct result I’ve gained confidence, friends and connections I never would’ve had without it. And to think fear almost stopped me from even trying.

    • That is so cool – two people who stalled for ages to start their blog in the same month, me like :)

      I really like the way you explained voice in your latest post:

      “And that’s what makes writing—any writing—special. I could ask all of you to write a short story with the same characters, same plot, same settings and themes and dialogue and in the end, every single one of you would come out with something different. Why?

      “Because you each have a voice.” – http://avajae.blogspot.com/

  6. Accept defeat really took a big courage to do that and if any bloggers managed to overcome that, so welcome to Darren Rowse’s club :)

  7. Mahendra says:

    Yes we are always fearful of failure but we learn many things from them that the real point. You used a very innovative way to describe Blogging.

  8. Cezar Bianu says:

    Nothing should keep us from achieving our dreams. Samurai’s have a spine! They always had and they will always have.

  9. AstroGremlin says:

    When you dream the right dream and then work persistently, fear of failure is replaced by chagrin at setback, annoyance at delay, and the “good tired” that comes from directed effort. Fear of success, exposure, and additional responsibility is more toxic. Your worker and your dreamer must agree that you can handle success.

  10. James Greg says:

    A great comparison between samurais and bloggers. Both are fighters, but we fight through our laptops and PCs. Death is symbolized a failure. The biggest fear of a blogger is failure which can be termed as death to his career as a blogger. Facing failure is no an easy task, even though Walt Disney, Abraham Lincoln and Henry Ford went bankrupt but still managed to build everlasting empires people today are not ready to accept the challenges of hard work. Failure breaks a person’s confidence and this results in never trying to be a blogger but admire the A Lister’s success and drool over the thought of becoming just like them (without trying practically).

  11. Hi Aman,

    Each spectacular ending originated in a humble beginning.

    Failure is the best springboard. Teaches us how to persist, how to stick with it in the face of resistance. Face your fear. It’s not so scary. Embrace your fear. It doesn’t hurt too much. Release your fear. Feels good, right?

    I use this FER method over and over. Moment after moment. I just published an inspirational ebook the other day: my first published piece. I found fears pop up again and again each step of the way. Who will read it? How can I self publish? Am I charging too much? Fears arise, then I FER’ed em. Face. Embrace. Release.

    Fear stops you from doing what you want to do. But why? Fear is just an energy, a bunch of squiggly itty bitty waves in your mind. Never let energy waves bother you, let alone prevent you from living the life of your dreams.

    Each inspirational story you share proves this: failure precedes world-changing achievements. Each failure is an opportunity. An opportunity to learn from. A vehicle for our advancement. We grow from each failure if we choose to do so.

    Thanks for sharing the inspiration with us Aman!

    Ryan

  12. The FER method sounds pretty kool. I have never heard of it before. Maybe you should write a guest post for how bloggers can use the FER method to overcome fear.

  13. 2 things i have come to enjoy… Samurais (Martial Arts) and Blogging :)

    I am soooo glad I saw this and clicked on it. I am a newbie to the blogging world however have been active in the social media community for over a year now. Don’t know why I took so long to say “I want to start a blog”

    Fact is I have. I am loving it so far and this blog entry has motivated me even more.

  14. Shawn says:

    Thank you Aman. This may well be the most important thing I’ve ever read. For blogging, AND for life.

  15. Brandon says:

    Loved this post and especially loved this quote – “Failure is not the worst thing that could happen to you, it is mediocrity…”

    Awesome awesome awesome!!!

  16. Brilliant post! I’ve been feeling this way about blogging for a long time.

  17. I mean having no fear.

  18. Jon Sollie says:

    One of my all-time favorite quotes came from Abraham Lincoln: “My great concern is not that you have failed, but that you are content with failure.” It seems to me that few great people in the history books failed as often as Lincoln, yet he rose to greatness. No hypocrisy here!

    All the best,

    Jon

  19. Bougie Girl says:

    “Failure is not the worst thing that could happen to you, it is mediocrity. Failure lets you move on, mediocrity just stalls you.”

    Love this quote. I just discovered this website today and I have marked it under my Favorites. Keep up the good work!