Wednesday, April 29, 2009

No such thing as job security.

I love samurai. Not romantically. Something about feudal Japan just piques my interest. Whenever I get down in the dumps about work (we all do, even when we love what we are doing. Which I do!) it helps me to think about samurai, and how they went to work everyday expecting to die.

One story in particular comes to mind. Miyamoto Musashi is probably the most famous samurai. If someone can name only one samurai, it's usually him. It's because he was the best. He excelled, not only in swordsmanship, but also psychological warfare. He was completely self-taught, and was never defeated in single combat.

He was looking for a student, looking over potential candidates. One guy caught his eye.

"What's your deal?" asked Musashi.

"I sleep with a sword hanging from a thin string poised over my head all night. The string could break, and I could die in my sleep. Because of this I have no fear of death," said the job-applicant.

"Good call," said Musashi. "You got the job."

We're all sleeping with a sword poised over our heads. The economy is bad, but moreover, it's unpredictable. Something could happen, a client could go away or go bankrupt, and we could be out of a job in the blink of an eye. No amount of talent or seniority can be counted on to save us.

But instead of despairing, we can be like samurai. If we think of ourselves as already dead (or fired) it frees us to take risks, go big and, hopefully, win, so we can come back tomorrow and do it again. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009


The other day I came home after a day at the office. Drop my bag. Take out the dog, Say Hi to my son, then my wife. Sit down and take off my shoes. Pull one shoestring. Nothing happens, because my shoes are double-knotted. When was the last time I double knotted my shoes? It was many years ago, I'm sure of it. At some point, you grow out of the need to double-knot your shoes. Something about being a kid makes shoes untie faster. Must be the constant vibration.

Which brings me to why I've double-knotted my shoes. Somehow, in tying my son's shoes (which of course come untied in seconds after his feet hit the ground in left single-knotted) I've developed a habit. When my hands are left to their own devices, without my conscious mind to guide them, they tie a double-knot.

It's not just knots. I've found myself peeling the whole banana I'm about to eat, as if I were about to break it up for the boy. I've almost put bubble bath in the shower.

This post doesn't have a lot to do with advertising, but it does have a bit to do with life. What are your habits? What made them develop? Should you try breaking them?

Switching things up can give you a new perspective, even if it's just on how you take your coffee. And a small change in perspective can be all you need to break through a difficult problem.

Edward De Bono explains that the brain finds paths to follow so it can do its job (controlling your body parts) most efficiently. Breaking a habit can get your brain off a path, and into new territory.

Thanks for sticking with me on this one. Have a happy holiday weekend, if your weekend includes celebrating.