7 Powerful Lessons from Ancient Japanese Wisdom

As we search for new approaches to our biggest challenges, we often seek the latest-and-greatest tactics from the hottest, cutting-edge research on performance. It feels like there’s a brand new management approach, tech tool, or leadership style on a daily basis. Yet sometimes we can progress even more by learning from those before us. 
While flavor-of-the-week approaches fade fast, powerful wisdom is ageless. Assuming you don’t have spare time to travel to the ends of the earth or scour ancient scrolls, I thought it more efficient to share seven of my favorite gems. Many centuries old, these time-tested sayings are just as powerful as your new-fangled, web-enabled gadget:

1. If you do not enter the tiger’s cage, you will not catch its cub. It takes some risk to achieve our goals. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. We must get comfortable being uncomfortable if we want to enjoy outsized success.

2. Fall down seven times, stand up eight. There are many setbacks on the path to greatness. The most successful among us are also the most resilient and tenacious.

3. Don’t let your daughter-in-law eat your eggplants. Even those close to you may try to take advantage. Stand up for yourself when others try to take too much, even your closest colleagues and advisors.

4. Dumplings rather than flowers. Put another way, substance over style. Don’t be taken by shiny objects; instead, embrace people, opportunities, and partners with depth and character.

5. Even monkeys fall from trees. A great reminder that even the most skilled among us makes mistakes. If you’re not screwing up from time to time, you’re probably not pushing hard enough toward your goals.

6. A frog in a well does not know the great sea. It’s easy to lose perspective, and think our own worldview is universal. Instead, we can’t forget there are many external perspectives and options that must be explored and pursued.

7. Chase two hares, catch neither. If we lose focus and try to tackle too many things, we end up winning at none. It’s often better to dive very deep into one area or pursuit than to go wide and shallow in many. When we try to be all things to all people, we end up being nothing to no one.
To achieve at the highest levels, we should certainly consider new advice, ideas, and thought-leaders. But at times, the ancient pearls can help guide us better than the most advanced digital GPS system. Embrace these powerful lessons, and make your own history.

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