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Excerpts from Hagakure, Chapter 1

I started reading "Hagakure," which was written by the samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo from 1709 to 1716. I don't agree with everything in the book - some of the things Yamamoto-sama says sound crazy to my modern sensibilities, but there's some powerful quotes in here about bushido. Here's some I liked, with some thoughts of my own -

We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaming one's aim is a dog's death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one's heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he pains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.

The first book of philosophy on bushido I read was the Budoshoshinshu. It had a significant impact on my thinking. One of the largest tenets of bushido is keeping awareness of your death in mind when you live. I try to do this, because it gives you a sense of urgency and importance.

A lot of times the principle is misunderstood - the principle is actually make preparations as if you'll live forever, but live this day that you'd be proud if it was your last. Bushido is not about being reckless. It's about keeping awareness of the end with you, and in doing so, living much more.

It's almost paradoxical - the man who is aware of his death, who relinquishes his claim on life, he lives much more fully. The man who is ignorant of his death does not live as much. Death is not something to be afraid of - it's something to be aware of. Being aware of it makes you more alive, and more effective, and more purposeful.

Lean In to What?

On MGT500

I've been hearing a lot about the concept of Leaning In based upon Sheryl Sandberg's (COO of Facebook) book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead (2013) and how it is a call to arms for ambitious women to lead successful lives. Yet, many people (who are women) find fault in the advice held within the book. If this is not the strategy for Women Leaders (or if we as women can't agree that it is), than what is and what are we supposed to do to bridge the female leadership gap in the workplace?

I had a working mother and as such I spent a lot of time in daycares. At one particular day care when I was still very young the director took my mother aside when she came to pick me up and discussed whether I would be a better fit at another facility. When a mother asked why she was told that I was bossy and didn't get along with the other children. My mother told her what she thought was bossy was really miss taken initiative. I haven't been accused much of being bossy since then, but that could be a sign of what Sandberg says society indoctrinates into girls to prevent them from becoming the leaders they can be. In the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook Sandberg says that the label boxes put upon young girls and early age to reinforce a double standard currently seen that we all know this in the workplace. Where little girl is bossy a little boys praised for being ambitious or having leadership skills.

“When a girl tries to lead, she is often labeled bossy,” she writes. “Boys are seldom bossy because a boy taking the role of a boss does not surprise or offend.” (2013)

Sandberg promotes the idea that women should have a mission work hard to gain leadership roles, negotiate and lead like their male counterparts.

Yet there are many critics that state the concept of leaning in is an oxymoron in itself, claiming that a woman leaning in will ultimately jeopardize her success instead of achieving it. In a study done by sociology professors at the University of Toronto (Shieman, Schafer, McIvor, 2013) it was found that many women in authority positions felt they had little influence and autonomy - they also did not find their job to be very rewarding. It was also stated in this study that women found that at times excuses were made to justify their positions and there was a culture of "tokenism" among granting women high ranking positions.

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