We live in a fast paced world: new Facebook messages pop-up faster than we can keep up with; we receive tens, sometimes hundreds of emails a day; marketing messages are preying for our attention; even one-year-old children nowadays can use iPad’s before they can even speak their first words; technology is advancing, and fast!
We’re rushing through life. Along with the increasing efficiency at the office comes more responsibility. The more responsibilities we have, the more work we have to do. 8 hour workdays aren’t always enough anymore to finish our work. We bring home our work, push off family time and try to get it all done. We’re doing our best, but the pressure is rising. If we don’t keep up, we’re falling behind. We’re living flat lives, sometimes forgetting why we’re even doing all the things we’re doing. We’re being lived. We’ve lost our identity, and we’ve lost way.
Achieving more is not the solution. We work hard to achieve, we have corporate job-positions that would make many jealous on the outside. But deep inside we’re feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled, and we question ourselves: “Is this all I have to offer?”, “Is this who I am?” We don’t have the answer. Instead we push those thoughts away and just continue on, day-after-day.
Learning from Warriors
Striving for the “external” results leads to an unfulfilled life. Without knowing who you are and why you’re doing it, it’s meaningless. I believe in the West we can learn a lot from martial artists. To be more specific, from warriors. While nowadays martial arts isn’t used to fight wars anymore, and in the current society we don’t have to fight others. There are other things we need to encounter: i.e. our own weaknesses, our ego, our tendencies to give up, our arrogance, etc. All these inner demons are things we can learn to deal with through martial arts. By training we grow not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In short we build our character.
So what makes a warrior? When we think of warriors, we may think about soldiers or martial artists. We may think they’re aggressive, or ruthless killing-machines with the ability to kill with intent. But someone with great fighting skills doesn’t necessary makes a warrior. To truly understand what a warrior is, we must look further than what happens on the battlefield.
What defines a true warrior is that he lives by a code. This code consist of the following values:
Let’s go through each of them.
The first value that a warrior lives by is respect. Respect is taking other people’s thoughts, needs, feelings into consideration. Since we’re on this planet with others, almost everything you do is with others. To succeed we need others. To love and be happy we need others. Respect makes life easier and better. Everybody wants to be respected. When you smile at others, chances are they will smile back. When you treat others with respect, others will treat you respectfully more likely as well.
Respect on the battlefield means that even though a warrior needs to fight the enemy, he respects that the enemy is fighting for the same objective: to protect the ones he cares about (whether that may be his country or his family). And even though they each have the enemy to fight, they honour and respect each other. Because they know deep down, that they’re ultimately battling for the same cause but for different rulers. That’s why it’s most common that in martial arts classes, before entering the training area, they greet before training. It is showing respect for their teacher, dojo and their training buddies.
The second value is honour. Living honourably is very important to a warrior. Honour is sometimes even more important than their own lives for a warrior. In ancient times, the samurai warriors only had one mission in life: to protect their master. That not only meant physical protection, but also the protection of their name and honour. The samurai would even go so far to commit seppuku (painful way of cutting through their own abdomen to commit suicide) to protect the honour of their master. They would place their master’s honour at a higher place than their own lives. That’s their code: to live honourably and live a life of integrity. While this is just an example, and by no means a suggestion. It shows what honourable warriors were willing to do to protect the honour of their master.
So what is honour? Honour is:
1. Having mutual respect, and
2. giving praise to those who are superior (by position, abilities, character, etc.).
Honour is gained by doing the right thing, even if nobody’s watching.
Warriors don’t only train to defend themselves, but also to fight for the weak or elderly. Why? Because that’s the honourable thing to do: to help others in need. Their pursuit for improving at their skill, is never about personal gain. It is to serve a greater cause: to protect the things that matter in life.
You might think that these warriors are never afraid. That’s certainly not the case. Also warriors are afraid. But that doesn’t keep them from doing the right thing. The difference between fear and courage is: fear is shitting your pants; while courage is shitting your pants and doing the right thing anyway. What’s right or wrong isn’t based on other people’s opinion, it’s based on your own values. Only you can decide what’s right or wrong.
The Corporate Warrior
Being a warrior in the modern age: a.k.a. the corporate warrior means you live by your own code. Whether you practice martial arts has nothing to do with being a warrior. You can be a warrior too, by living a life of choice. The choice of choosing your own code to live by: a code that identifies you. The code can consist of values like the values of the traditional warrior of “respect”, “honour” and “courage.” But they can also be other values that are important to you, for example “love”, “family” or “to contribute.” Living consciously by this code makes the difference, by setting the standard you want to live by first. From these chosen values decision-making will be easy. They’ll follow your values. By living by a code, your life will have a much clearer purpose. And much more likely you’ll succeed in the mission of life. While your decisions and actions will not always be understood or accepted, deep down you know it’s the right thing for the honourable reasons. The corporate warrior trusts that by doing right, by being honourable and being of value to the world, he will be rewarded by it.
The daily life of a corporate warrior includes conscious day-to-day practice to become a better version of you. The battle of a warrior is not fought in the midst of the crisis in the battlefield, it’s fought on day-to-day basis. This day-to-day training builds your character, which brings you on the path of personal excellence (which is the true meaning of martial arts nowadays). The way of living as a warrior gives one an identity, a purpose, and it frees one from chasing intangible empty goals. It calms the mind, grounds you and allows you to be fulfilled. By living true to his code, he lives by his heart, knowing at the end of each day he has given his greatest gift.
Questions to ponder:
– What code do you live by?
– What are your core values in life?
– Does your calendar or your actions show proof of this the past week? The past month? Are there things you’d like to change?