13 Practical Samurai Leadership Principles for Sustainable Success

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The digital age of transparency imposes changes for businesses, shifting from control to a more facilitating role, where ideas, communities and power give power instead of titles and positions. More than ever, success comes from a purpose beyond earning money. Last year I picked up Joris Merks’ his book Read further to learn about his 13 Samurai principles to achieve sustainable success based on integrity.

Joris Merks is Research Manager for Google, Dialogue Marketer of the year 2012 and also European Champion and Open German Champion in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. In his book “Samurai Business” he unites his experience in martial arts and business, and can be seen as the 21st century “Art of War”.

Transition to 21st century leadership

Before we go to the 13 Principles, it’s important to note that Joris Merks, being a relatively young business professional and leader, his learnings can help to become successful in a sustainable way, more fit to this digital age that is constantly in flux. Success must be based on integrity, but how can we cherish integrity while facing fierce competition and office politics?

As mentioned in the first paragraph, thanks to transparency, shifting business culture, the new leaders (that act as platforms) will all have a more facilitating role, however there’s still a lot of power and office politics determined through titles and positions. That is exactly where this book can help you with, success and having fun in the work you do are important, don’t get caught in ongoing stress, not for yourself and your surroundings.

Interview on his book

Samurai Business book Joris MerksJanuary this year we had the pleasure to have an exclusive interview with Joris about his book, his fighting ánd business career and foremostly the person behind Joris Merks. It was interesting to learn that there are such differences in the fighting etiquette versus the business one but that those that he picked up during his fighting he transferred to business.

“Integrity is not naivety and kindness does not equal weakness. It is time to put the art back in the business and the Samurai back in the professional,” too bad that this is his conclusion, it really says something fundamentally how we do business with each other, the way we treat each other, all for the ultimate goal of money. I do see a shift in this ultimate goal amongst young business professionals, one that transcends money and is more holistic, doing great things with people they want to work with to have a more fullfilled life.

What business and fighting have in common

People often relate business and war to each other, citing the ancient book of Sun Tzu: “The Art of War.” Unfortunately the concept of war is often emphasized, rather than the art. There is a good reason why Sun Tzu did not choose “The Thrill of War” as his title or just “How to Destroy Your Enemies.”

“The Art of War” relates to the ancient Samurai warriors. The path of the Samurai is a quest for self-development that extends beyond fighting. The Samurai became successful in battle through true skill and the ability to withstand the desire for power and victory.

“Samurai Business” inspires professionals to face politics without feeding them. The book helps to focus on self-development to the benefit of your environment, while being rewarded for your efforts. Apply the Samurai principles consistently and you may surprise yourself.

Samurai Business 13 PrinciplesThe 13 Samurai principles he describes in his book “Samurai Business” are the following:

  1. Dedicate yourself to a purpose beyond power, control or earning money.
  2. Develop yourself to the benefit of the world around you.
  3. If you encounter a problem: change it, accept it or leave it.
  4. Stay connected to yourself and the environment under any kind of pressure.
  5. Take a close view of distant things and a distant view of close things.
  6. Balance careful planning with creative and flexible execution.
  7. Don’t fight inevitable developments.
  8. Be respectful, yet clear and sharp.
  9. Reflect without judging.
  10. Look fear in the eyes while doing what you think is right and necessary.
  11. Inspire people and celebrate successes with gratitude, not arrogance.
  12. Be helpful and generous, yet choose the people around you wisely.
  13. Take care of yourself and those around you.

What do you think about the 13 principles and the shift to a more sustainable type of leadership and success?