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Made You Think

May 29, 2018

"When I reached thirty I looked back on my past. The previous victories were not due to my having mastered strategy. Perhaps it was natural ability, or the order of heaven, or that other schools’ strategy was inferior. After that I studied morning and evening searching for the principle, and came to realise the Way of strategy when I was fifty."

In this episode of Made You Think, Neil and Nat discuss The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. Musashi was the greatest Samurai ever, famous for winning over 60 samurai duels. In this book he uses the art of sword fighting to develop a set of principles that can guide you through your personal and professional life.

Study strategy over the years and achieve the spirit of the warrior. Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.

We cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Strategy in business and in life
  • Lots of Japanese aphorisms
  • Giving excuses when failing
  • The importance of mastering different skills
  • How it’ll look like when we reach 100 podcasts

And much more. Please enjoy, and be sure to grab a copy of The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi!

The teacher cannot force learning on the student, and the student cannot learn in isolation: "The teacher is as a needle, the disciple is as thread. You must practice constantly."


If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to check out our episode on Way of Zen by Alan Watts, a book that about Buddhism and mastering skills, as well as our episode on Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey, another book starts with a specific activity to infer global principles.

Be sure to join our mailing list to find out about what books are coming up, giveaways we're running, special events, and more.

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Show Topics

3:14 – Musashi's background and how he became the most famous samurai. In this book he writes about strategy and philosophy through the lens of sword fighting. His writing style starts with examples at micro level and unfolds them into general principles. Development of the Niten Ichi-ryū school, the style of fighting with one short and one long sword. Books that use sports or physical activities as a canvas to explain strategy, psychology, and philosophy.

9:45 – Sponsor time! Scentbird. Online subscription plan to receive at home all perfumes you want to try. Go to Scentbird, build your queue, and get 50% OFF with the coupon mentioned in the episode. They don't take much space in or bag, so very convenient to travel with. Very helpful if you want to go into subscription mode for everything in your life like Nat.

12:40 – Time period where guns were spreading but swords were still popular.

15:26 – Ground. Foundation for the other books and the most applicable to real world problems beyond sword fighting. Four personas: the gentlemen, the farmers, the artisans and the merchants. The teacher can be guidance but one has to move through the process. Symbiotic relationship between teacher and student.

19:16 – “The way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death”. Does acceptance of death make you a better warrior? "The Dojo" example applied to Marketing. There are so many marketing gurus pushing for their school as it is the only true alternative, while they are truly looking for profit.

23:12 – “This is a truth: when you sacrifice your life, you must make fullest use of your weaponry”. It is false not to do so, and to die with a weapon yet undrawn. You can't allow yourself to fail without trying everything you have at your disposal. Romanticizing failures and not learning from them. The fine line of failure and ego protection. Not going all in gives you an excuse if you fail.

26:23 – “It will seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first”. Everything is hard when you start. Having a diversity of abilities. In sports, a winning strategy is to water the opponents favorite strategy. Having a favorite weapon or skill is a weakness. Bruce Lee's fighting against his own Martial Arts school, by following his philosophy of non-philosophy. Coping other does not make sense because what works for others may not work for you.

31:39 – Water. “With water as the basis, the spirit becomes like water. Water adopts the shape of its receptacle, it is sometimes a trickle and sometimes a wild sea”. Being able to break over the rocks and not being stopped by them. Being able to work around an obstacle and being fluid. The difference of learning indoor techniques with learning into the wild. Book summaries visitor stats.

36:56 – Our private behavior and public behavior should be the same at all times. Instagram and social media push us to build a fake personality, and pretend we are a different person from what we really are. Me too stuff. White people trying to win points between minorities.

43:45 – “In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things”. Japanese aphorisms. Detaching from personal feelings to get the big picture. How Rogan can make so many podcasts.

48:15 – Fire. Here Masashi starts to get very technical on fighting. Training to the point it becomes an innate knowledge. You know when something is natural to you when you have a hard time explaining it. The best mentor is not someone far along and super successful but most of the times, just a few steps ahead from you.

55:12 – Methods to slow down enemies' attacks. Attacking first, counter attacking, and attacking at the same time. Maintain control of your position. It is bad to be led about by the enemy. Taking the initiative may have psychological advantages by not being responsive to the enemy but making him responsive to you. Acting vs reacting. Having the enemy to respond to your moves so they don't have time to develop their strategies. Staying relevant and on the news in order to push the competition to show their cards.

1:01:46 – Wind. “Crossing at a ford”. Knowing when to enter in a negotiation, in a position of strength. Having the discipline to delay to act when it's the right time. Being able to put oneself in the enemy's shoes. Criticizing other schools.

1:08:00 – Void. Conventional and unspoken knowledge. True mastery is something you cannot put into a book, it has no end. Anti dogma.

1:14:08 – Sponsors. If you want to smell lovely and have an easy solution for all your perfumes and colognes needs checkout Scentbird. Use our code to get 50% off your first month subscription. Get your mushroom coffee from Four Sigmatic. They have a new Think blend! Try also the Cordyceps blend, their Reishi blend for sleep. Nat is drinking Lapsang Souchong black tea from Cup & Leaf. It tastes like a brandy, whisky, smokey dark liquor flavor scotch. Try the Earl Grey cream one too! Kettle & Fire has mushroom-chicken bone broth available on their site now! Great flavoring. You may get up to 28% off your first ordering using our code. Nat likes to cook with their beef broth and Neil turns his quinoa in a nutritional powerhouse. Perfect Keto is perfect if you are trying to get into keto. Check out their ketones supplements and their exogenous ketones. They have a mocha flavored MCT oil powder. It’s of the best kind of fats, and you can mix it in your smoothies, have it straight in the morning, or mix it with athletic greens. Use our Amazon link to help support the show. Hit us up on Twitter (Neil, Nat).

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