What would the most famous samurai from the feudal era in Japan know about business? More than you would think. Today’s book club pick, Musashi’s Book of Five Rings, was chosen by our Bookkeeper Steve. Below, he shares a few of the takeaways from the book, and how they can be applied by business owners.
Miyamoto Musashi was a legendary samurai, and perhaps the best swordsman of all time. It’s said that he went undefeated in 61 duels!
Musashi was not just an amazing swordsman who pioneered the two sword style that left many opponents confused on how to defend. He was also a masterful psychological warrior, often beating his opponents before they even touched swords.
And while he clearly mastered his craft, he mastered several other skills as well.
Musashi was an accomplished painter and philosopher. He also wrote one of the most influential books of all time: The Book of Five Rings.
The Book of Five Rings
If you’re not familiar with The Book of Five Rings, it’s a book on martial arts at its core. However, the lessons discussed can be applied to a much broader range of topics.
Today, I’ll share my take on The Book of Five Rings and how certain quotes and principles apply to business. While the book was written over 3 centuries ago, the principles still hold true, and can help sharpen your mind and your business strategy.
The Book of Five Rings has advice on many topics including mindset, knowledge, integrity, and strategy. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite quotes and how they can be applied to become a better entrepreneur.
The Book of Five Rings – Mindset
Mindset is critically important in business, just as it was in battle. The following 4 quotes involve mindset, and I’ll share my business interpretation for each.
“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.”
- Successful business leaders should have a humble perspective and a deep understanding of the needs and desires of their customers and partners.
“Do not be obsessed with winning.”
- If you focus too much on short-term gains or competition, you may lose sight of your long-term goals and relationships.
“The true science of martial arts means practicing them in such a way that they will be useful at any time, and teaching them in such a way that they will be useful in all things.”
- Successful businesses have a culture of continuous improvement and innovation.
“There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.”
- Successful entrepreneurs often have a strong sense of personal responsibility and accountability, and understand that success ultimately comes from within.
The Book of Five Rings – Knowledge
It’s no secret that knowledge is crucial to success in any given field. Here are 3 quotes from the Book of Five Rings that can be applied to business knowledge.
“Study strategy over the years and achieve the spirit of the warrior.”
- Effective business leaders have a strong foundation of knowledge and experience, as well as the discipline and focus of a warrior.
“Perception is strong and sight weak.”
- It’s important to have a clear understanding of the underlying trends and patterns that drive success or failure, rather than relying solely on surface-level observations.
“Know the smallest things and the biggest things, the shallowest things, and the deepest things.”
- Successful business owners should have a broad perspective and a deep understanding of their industry and market.
The Book of Five Rings – Integrity
“Do not think dishonestly.”
Businesses that operate with integrity and honesty are more likely to earn the trust and respect of their customers and partners. I believe this rule is critically important! Relationships are the backbone of business success, and there can be no real relationship without integrity and trust.
The Book of Five Rings – Strategy
“Do not let the enemy see your spirit.”
This principle from the Book of Five Rings makes sense as a business strategy in a competitive industry. It’s often advantageous to keep your plans and strategies confidential in order to maintain a competitive advantage.
While Musashi’s Book of Five Rings was composed in 1643, many of his lessons and concepts still hold true today. Applying some of his principles on mindset, knowledge, integrity, and strategy to your business could bring it to the next level.
What do you think of Musashi’s centuries-old advice? Have you ever gleaned business advice from a non-business-focused book? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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