Bushidō (武士道?), Literally “the way of the warrior,” is a Japanese word for the way of the Samurai (to serve) life. Having just finished reading Bushido, the Soul of Japan, which is available for free in public domain, it got me thinking about entrepreneurship in the digital economy and how we can apply these ancient moral codes (not the killing parts) to becoming warriors of the web, loyal to serving others.
I. Rectitude or Justice
Rectitude or Justice is the strongest virtue of Bushido, it’s also the catalyst for idea creation for the entrepreneur. Being able to question the world you live in, reveal injustices and take action upon the things you find morally unacceptable can light the fire of action in the warrior entrepreneur.
“Rectitude is one’s power to decide upon a course of conduct in accordance with reason, without wavering; to die when to die is right, to strike when to strike is right.” – Inazo Nitobe
Bushido states that ‘Courage is doing what is right.’ The entrepreneur will never be brave or determined enough to pursue goals that are ego driven, only through the relentless pursuit of serving others will he develop the courage to break through the many obstacles that challenge the entrepreneur on his journey.
“For a Samurai, when his stomach is empty, it is a disgrace to feel hunger.” – Inazo Nitobe
For the entrepreneur, when he feels alone and drained of motivation he must realign himself with those he is serving – for they are his power.
“When Heaven is about to confer a great office on anyone, it first exercises his mind with suffering and his sinews and bones with toil; it exposes his body to hunger and subjects him to extreme poverty; and it confounds his undertakings. In all these ways it stimulates his mind, hardens his nature, and supplies his incompetencies.” – Inazo Nitobe
III. Benevolence or Mercy
Love, magnanimity, affection for others, sympathy and pity, are traits of Benevolence, the highest attribute of the human soul. Entrepreneurs need to start their propositions with love and sympathy for their potential customers. Heightened empathy and attuned awareness are the traits that the entrepreneurs needs in order to best serve his tribe.
“A benevolent man is ever mindful of those who are suffering and in distress.” – Inazo Nitobe
Politeness is a poor virtue if it’s motivated only by a fear of offending good taste. Entrepreneurs in the digital economy have to be willing to offend the gatekeepers by questioning the status quo, that’s where the pain lies and the business ideas reside. In its highest form, politeness approaches love, love for improving the lives of others.
“(Politeness) should be the outward manifestation of a sympathetic regard for the feelings of others.” – Inazo Nitobe
V. Honesty and Sincerity
True Samurai, according to author Nitobe, disdained money, believing that “men must grudge money, for riches hinder wisdom.” High-ranking Samurai were raised to believe that talking about money showed poor taste, and that ignorance of the value of different coins showed good breeding. Bushido encouraged thrift, not for economical reasons so much as for the exercise of abstinence. Luxury was thought the greatest menace to manhood, and severe simplicity was required of the warrior class.
The entrepreneur must maintain a healthy relationship with his money at all times, for it can become the kryptonite of his sincerity, corrupting his reasoning and motives for serving others.
“Men must grudge money: it is by riches that wisdom is hindered.” – Inazo Nitobe
The sense of honor, a vivid consciousness of personal dignity and worth, characterised the Samurai. He was born and bred to value the duties and privileges of his profession. The entrepreneur alike must view his skills and talents as a blessing, holding them back from the world through fear and uncertainty is a disgrace to the people who so badly need him.
“Never condemn others; but see to it that thou comest not short of thine own mark.” – Inazo Nitobe
The current economy has dealt a blow to loyalty worldwide. Nonetheless, true men remain loyal to those they serve. Trust is the most valuable asset in the digital economy. It can take years to build but can fall to the ground in one foul swoop. Keep your word and deliver again and again.
“A Samurai was essentially a man of action.” – Inazo Nitobe
VIII. Character and Self-Control
What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong. The entrepreneur, like the Samurai, must educate himself as a way to build up character and his own value system. It’s only through constantly trying to understand oneself that man can control his emotional state; an entrepreneur with self-control and his eye on a worthy causes is an unstoppable force.
“Knowledge becomes really such only when it is assimilated in the mind of the learner and shows in his character.” – Inazo Nitobe