April 01, 2012
When Failure Is Not an Option

NOTE: The following article is a guest post by Ron Brent, co-Founder of Heroic Leadership and one of the most conscious human beings I know.

For much of this past year, my business partner and I have had almost daily discussions about the state of the economy, our country, and the general condition of the world we live in.

Our conclusion? The good old "American Spirit" of yesterday seems to be a no-show these days.

It wasn't long ago when opportunities were abundant and there was a genuine sense of enthusiasm and innovation throughout the country -- a feeling that we could accomplish just about anything we set our minds to -- either in our personal lives, our businesses, or in the companies entrusted to our care.

It's what made America the great "Land of Opportunity" and brought our families here from distant corners of the world.

These days, many people in the business community feel that opportunity and success are luxuries they have to wait for. The're waiting for new government regulations, someone to present a plan, or a seismic shift in the economy.

This kind of thinking is outdated and out of tune. Opportunity and success are not luxuries to be waited for. On the contrary, they're waiting for us!

Opportunities are always present, and in most cases they're right in front of our eyes. The problem is: we rarely know what they look like, and so we fail to recognize them.

This phenomenon raises several questions worth considering.

How can we proactively spot the opportunities right in front of us? Once identified, how can we gather the resources we need to turn these opportunities into successful ventures? And finally, where can we look for direction and guidance?

Although these questions are all "forward looking", the answers to them may actually be waiting for us in the distant past -- answers that will help us meet the increasingly difficult challenges before us.

Looking back in time, we can find many examples of individuals who were also facing difficult challenge -- seemingly impossible challenges -- and yet these individuals were able to achieve great success against extraordinary odds.

One such group were the warrior sages (warriors in possession of wisdom). Most notable of these were the Samurai.

In response to the difficult challenges they faced, the Samurai developed powerful training techniques to give themselves the ultimate competitive advantage.

They designed strategies, methods, and tactics that allowed them to outsmart and outmaneuver their opponents -- opponents who often outnumbered them and had many more resources at their disposal.

Additionally, the Samurai also developed teachable systems for training others. As a result, they produced teams of empowered individuals armed with the skills and tools to succeed under conditions where failure was not an option.

Yes, the Samurai possessed extraordinary battlefield acumen, but they were not one-dimensional killing machines. On the contrary, they were equally known for their profound poetry, fine calligraphy, exquisitely delicate painting, melodious music, and many other forms of artistic expression.

How can people in today's world benefit from the legacy of the Samurai? What can we learn from their extraordinary example of grace under fire?

Can we take their ancient tools and techniques and apply them to our modern day challenges? Absolutely!

The Samurai blueprint for achieving success can easily be adapted to any and all of life's situations. Wisdom is wisdom regardless of time and place. The Samurai approach to achieving results is as effective in today's workplace as it was on the battlefields of a thousand years ago.

Whether in combat, sales, security, management, or executive leadership -- all of us can learn from this Samurai code of conduct: failure is not an option. Not just in theory, but in practice.

Because the Samurai didn't just leave behind a legacy of courage, strength, and wisdom -- they left behind a system for translating their mastery in ways that others could learn from, practice, and imbibe.

About Heroic Leadership
Samurai Code of Conduct

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at April 1, 2012 12:49 AM


When resources were plenty- and industrial secrets were just that, the " American Spirt" briefly won the day. Now all face a new and permanent dynamic, "peak resources", few secrets, and, for now, connected, literate masses.

While I respect the reverence paid to the samurai I doubt the brutally rigid hierarchal structure of the Edo period will provide many solutions or innovations for those not of the highest ranks.

This is a time to build circles, not to recreate or maintain pyramids. shiftingcircles

Posted by: Peter Hetzel [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 2, 2012 01:28 PM

A key point that was mentioned and then dropped is the importance of the arts in achievement. If a Samurai is not complete without the personal practice of creative expression, how can a modern business warrior expect to do otherwise? Because I am familiar with mindfulness for stress relief and the essential practice of mental focus for achievement, I teach a meditative style of drawing that is accessible to all. Zentangle (registered trademark) taps every individual's creativity to enhance innovation and nurture the habit of new idea development. It's easy for us to say the words "failure is not an option", but more difficult not to burn ourselves out in pursuit of success. Taking care of ourselves throughout the process is the only way to reach long-term objectives.
Zentangle was created by Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts and can be explored further at www.zentangle.com
I am a Certified Zentangle Teacher and can be reached through my website http://www.ScrawlEncompassing.com

Posted by: A Facebook User [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 2, 2012 02:41 PM


Thank you for your comments! No doubt the Samurai society had a rigid hierarchal social structure. However, our interest is not in social structures, but in the development of human beings. Good human beings make good social structures! What we teach has very little, if anything to do with martial arts and military hierarchy, and lots to do with the cultivation of courage, wisdom, insight, inner strength and compassion.

Brutality has no place in this world, but neither does weakness of mind and spirit. These are challenging times we live in, and only those not paying close attention to world events believe it will change anytime soon. This world needs strong, conscious people of good intention. That’s where our focus should be!

In your comment you speak to a time when resources were plenty. It’s in times of shortage that we need to call upon our abilities of insight, innovation, wisdom and all the rest. We can’t merely complain about what others have done or are doing to us – we have to be proactive in making this a better world. And how do we do that? With vision and energy!

It’s very important to remain positive, and not blame others for what we perceive is wrong with things. Our practical and positive approach to life must be authentic and deep down in our bones. In “Samurai speak” this is referred to as Victorious Attitude. It simply means that whatever you pursue - pursue it with the attitude that you will be successful! That can be in business, charity, athletics or any activity you engage in.

The Samurai developed disciplines to eliminate mental obstacles as well as build up one’s strength and endurance. These are integral parts of what is referred to as the “Samurai Way”. The word “do”, as in Dojo, means the “way of practice for personal development”. It is this practice of personal and professional development that is our focus.

One last point: In the building of circles, the circles consisting of strong, wise, conscious and compassionate individuals, will be the circles that will provide the pillars for the coming generations.

Posted by: Rjbrent [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 2, 2012 04:12 PM

Thank you back.

I am sorry my words were viewed as complaining- I will be more careful. I have chosen to be optimistic for the planet and humanity but for different outcomes than most I imagine.

The coming scarcity I hope will be the beginning of a transition from viewing self and others not by external possessions but by the internal growth you speak of..without the right to arbitrarily slay any peasant, of course.

I guess I viewed your post and this website through the lens that you are agents for corporate change. Individuals that develop this courage, wisdom, insight, inner strength and compassion I don't think will apply that into their work if the corporate structure is not "good".

I may be a fool to think corporations can tear down their triangles...but the current and very public Apple supplier trouble, is a bid piece of evidence that structural circles are inevitable and will transform individuals and corporations quicker than enlightened ronin.

Posted by: Peter Hetzel [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 2, 2012 07:34 PM

There's nothing wrong with complaining per se. The key is to have the tools to help others make the changes they seek. Otherwise we run the risk of getting mired down in negativities and that just clouds our vision.

Corporations don't change, people change! People at the top of the triangle, as you put it, need to want to change in order for their corporate culture to change. Best thing is for us to keep working on ourselves so that we can become real agent of change. Then we'll find that the world is changing along with us. Thanks again for your comments!

Posted by: Rjbrent [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 3, 2012 03:43 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?

Who Are We?

Idea Champions is a consulting and training company dedicated to awakening and nurturing the spirit of innovation. We help individuals, teams and entire organizations tap into their innate ability to create, develop and implement ideas that make a difference.

Click here for the simplest, most direct way, to learn more about Idea Champions' semi-fearless leader, Mitch Ditkoff. Info on his keynotes, workshops, conferences, and more.
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
Top 5 Speaker
Mitch Ditkoff, the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, has recently been voted a top 5 speaker in the field of innovation and creativity by Speakers Platform, a leading speaker's bureau.
Authorized Reseller Logo – GoLeanSixSigma.com
Workshops & Trainings
Highly engaging learning experiences that increase each participant's ability to become a creative force for positive change
Brainstorm Facilitation
High impact certification training that teaches committed change agents how to lead groundbreaking ideation sessions
Cultivating Innovation
Your "best and brightest" are the future leaders of your company, but unless they know how to foster a culture of innovation, their impact will be limited. A one-day workshop with us is all they need to begin this journey.
Our Blog Cabin
Our Heart of Innovation blog is a daily destination for movers and shakers everywhere — gleefully produced by our President, Mitch Ditkoff, voted "best innovation blogger in the world" two years running.
Team Innovation
Innovation is a team sport. Brilliant ideas go nowhere unless your people are aligned, collaborative, and team-oriented. That doesn't happen automatically, however. It takes intention, clarity, selflessness, and a new way of operating.
Awake at the Wheel, Book about big ideas If you're looking for a powerful way to jump start innovation and get your creative juices flowing, Awake at the Wheel is for you. Written by Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions.
Face the Music Blues Band The world's first interactive business blues band. A great way to help your workforce go beyond complaint.

"In tune with corporate America." — CNN