Monthly Archives: June 2014

Overcoming Obstacles


mount-50920_640Fear, as we’ve said, is the dragon of dragons, the block of blocks that stops people again and again from a better life–fear of being wrong, fear of looking foolish, fear of speaking up, fear of public speaking, fear of what tomorrow will bring, etc. But there are other major dragons preventing people from achieving their goals and purposes and reaching their long-held dreams. Among them is:

Being Afraid to Take Risks

One of the more powerful blocks to committed action in personal and work life is the desire for certainty, the sure thing. In short, the desire for the impossible.

My Uncle Fred

My uncle Fred set out to invent a new type of nozzle. He rented space in a factory where my father worked, and my father would watch Fred working long hours in hip boots in vats of water trying to perfect his nozzle. My father would come home from work and say, “Poor Fred, splashing around night and day with his nozzles. I feel sorry for the guy. It’ll never work out.”

Uncle Fred had a wife and three children, but no income. He was staking everything that one day he would invent that revolutionary nozzle and would make millions. He had the idea and the design, but needed a machinist to shape the nozzles he was working with, and so he offered a share of the business to my father, a machinist, if he would work with him at nights and on weekends without pay until the business was making money. Though we never had enough money, my father was never one to take risks and he turned down the offer.

Did Fred succeed? Yes, he did. The nozzle he invented was revolutionary, and he did make many millions from his patent and his manufacturing company, and he bought an estate in the country with stables and horses, and a BIG house with art works from around the world, and another big house for the servants. My father scratched around for nickels all his life.

Night School Students

I taught a graduate college class at night to students who worked during the day. I would guess they ranged in age from twenty-five to fifty-five. Every semester I would conduct a survey by asking the class, “If you could do it over, would you go into the career you are in now?” What do you think they said?

You’re right. The great majority said emphatically “NO” or more often, “NO WAY.” They “should have been” an animator. They “should have been” an engineer, or an attorney, or a novelist.

Then I asked them, “Then why don’t you go into something you would like more?”

Whatever they answered—“I make a lot of money now and might not make as much in another career”—“I would have to get another degree”—“I’m too old to start over”—were various ways of saying, “I’m afraid to take risks.”

Bill the Executive and Herman the Runner

When I first met Bill, he was second in command of an organization with a work force of approximately three thousand people. His boss told me that Bill actually ran things. I felt it would certainly help my consulting with the organization if I learned what decisions Bill was contemplating. But when I asked him he snapped, “Decisions! I’m not making any decisions. I made that mistake last year.” Here was a man three thousand employees looked to for direction and job security, and he didn’t intend to make any decisions!

I had run across another Bill years before. His name was Herman. I had one season of high school track under my belt when Herman tried out for the team and made it as a 400 meter runner. He was a decent runner who worked very hard. The day of his first meet came and since his event was coming up, the coach looked around for Herman, but he was nowhere in sight. Eventually, though, the coach found him hiding in a washroom, his legs shaking, his face pale with fright. I’ll never forget coach putting his arm around Herman’s shoulder and walking him to the track, then saying only one short sentence, very softly, very kindly: “Herman, it’s time to get your feet wet.”

Let’s not be too hard on Bill, Herman, my students, and my father. They’re just examples of what is in fact the most popular approach to living and working: trying to avoid taking risks. Don’t run and you can’t lose the race; don’t make decisions and you can’t make bad ones. Don’t gamble on nozzles; don’t change you career in mid-stream. But on the other hand, don’t help Uncle Fred and you’ll never be rich, and don’t change your career and you’ll never know how happy you might have been in that other career. Don’t run the race and you cannot feel the thrill of victory. Don’t make decisions and you can’t make glorious decisions that will change your life and possibly the lives of those you love.

It could be that right now you too are hanging back from a decision or from taking decisive action in your own work or personal life. You might be shying away from potentially rewarding, exciting, and incredibly gratifying experiences because you want to avoid the disappointment or pain that might occur if things don’t work out. Like Herman, the runner, you want to keep your feet bone-dry.

The Search for Guarantees Will Get You Exactly Nowhere

Searching for guarantees in life and work is looking at them from the wrong end of the telescope, looking at them ass-backwards. The purpose of work and everyday life is not to avoid risk, quiet as that’s kept, but to maximize opportunity. And where do the richest opportunities lie? Exactly where the dangers are greatest. The best chance for total victory are to be found where? Where your chances of losing are also great.


A survey was done of 300 adults who were asked to reflect on their lives, their happiness and their regrets. Who were the most dissatisfied with their lives? Those who regretted not taking more risks.

The one constant factor in life is uncertainty. Half the things we try to do are affected by it. Wherever there is risk there is danger and there is fear. But risk and danger and fear needn’t stop us. In samurai swordsmanship there is a daring move that requires you to take two leaping steps forward and to come within a hairsbreadth of your opponent’s sword. It is not a difficult move and can bring quick and total victory, but it is rarely used. Why, when you can win so easily? Because taking the risk of coming so close to the foes blade terrifies most swordsmen. In life as with that sword move, it is often only by edging yourself in close to defeat that you also approach great success. Uncle Fred knew that, but Bill didn’t. Herman didn’t, many of my students didn’t, and my father certainly didn’t.

We-jei, the Chinese character, is made up of two symbols. One is “danger;” the other is “opportunity.” Danger—the danger of taking risks– offers us the opportunity to expand, to grow, to show courage, to become stronger, to start fresh on a more fulfilling course,

When you find yourself shying away, tell yourself, “I’ve got to edge in. I’ve got to play it closer to the sword blade.”

Take a coin and flip it. Whatever you do, don’t call “danger” and once again refuse to take a necessary risk—and make no progress. Make another choice. Call “opportunity” and be on your way.


What risks have you been afraid to take? How did you succeed in overcoming your fear?

© 2014 David J. Rogers

For my interview from the international teleconference with Ben Dean about Fighting to Win, click on the following link:


Order Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life eBook by David J. Rogers

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Filed under Blocks to Action, Developing Talent, Human Potential and Achievement

What Prevents People from Reaching Their Goals and Purposes



“I have the kind of life purposes you talk about, I have dreams and ambitions, I have major goals, but I’ve never been able to reach them the way I thought I would and I’m looking for an explanation.”

“Blocks are stopping you.”


“Yes, blocks, impediments, obstacles, some outside you, out in the world, but the most powerful are inside.”

“What do you mean?”

“Inside your spirit and mind.”

“What am I to do?”

“We say about a woman, ‘She’s very sick, but she’s a real fighter,’ and there is no higher compliment we can pay her—no higher compliment we can pay anyone. As long as she’s fighting there is hope. If you are as serious about a better life as you say you are you too would be willing to fight for that life. You would fight with all your might, wouldn’t you? How important can a life be if it isn’t worth fighting for? The ability to fight for a better life is a necessary skill. Some people possess it; many do not. But it can be learned. All people can be fighters. All great people, all those who have made their mark, have been fighters.

BLOCKS are your opponents. BLOCKS are what you’re fighting. BLOCKS are keeping people from a full life. So you must learn to be a fighter, and whatever your personality, that’s possible.”


…hold them down, and keep them from the better life they deserve. Because of blocks, very few people are making full use of all the marvelous talents they possess. Their abilities go to waste. There are two types of opponents/blocks you run into all the time. I know without having met you that you are facing at least one of them as you read this—and maybe more than one. Maybe many.

OUTER opponents/blocks are any forces, hindrances, or obstacles in the external world outside of you that you will have to eliminate or overcome if you are to have a more fulfilling life and reach what you’re seeking—whatever that might be.  Anything out in the world standing between you and your peace, prosperity, and well-being is an outer opponent, outer block. Right now you can think of the life you envision and aspire to and see very clearly that there are blocks that stand between you and it.  People when they oppose you, problems, tough situations, setbacks, crises, disappointments, discouragements, past failures, and difficult tasks are a few outer blocks.

INNER BLOCKS are in the person, in you. You and I grew up believing–because that’s what we’ve been told–that the main blocks confronting us are outside us. But that’s not true and all you need do is to reflect on your own life to know that’s not true. The BIG BLOCKS are those blocks of the mind and spirit.  Lack of self-confidence and self-reliance, self-doubt, destructive habits, problems handling pressure, laziness, an explosive temper, procrastination, excessive worry, constant boredom, and living without strong commitments are a few inner obstacles. (I will talk about some of the most powerful and detrimental blocks in future posts.)

They may be daunting, they may be intimidating, they may have become such habits that you hardly know anymore that they exist. But they are there and again and again they are keeping you from a better life. So you must do something about them.

The samurai, the greatest fighters ever to walk this earth, the basis of my book Fighting to Win, called all opponents in our minds and spirits, “DRAGONS.” You and I believed in dragons when we were children. They were hideous and terrifying and we drew back in horror. Then we discovered that the only place they existed was in our minds. When we realized they were only figments of our imagination they vanished, never to return.

ALL INNER OPPONENTS/BLOCKS ARE DRAGONS. THEY ONLY LIVE BECAUSE WE GRANT THEM POWER TO. But when you “strike through the dragon’s mask,” conquering inner opponents, inner blocks, dragons disappear—like that. They only exist because we give them license to. When we revoke their license they are gone and we are free.


“So you’re saying that inner blocks, inner obstacles, dragons, are powerful.”

“Yes, extremely powerful, interfering with very simple acts to more complicated ones. Inner blocks can destroy lives—they are destroying lives this moment.He or she broke your heart, so you tell yourself, “I never again want a broken heart. I will never get seriously involved again.” And so you may never love or be loved again. That’s an inner block—that’s a dragon. Being afraid to give a speech in public is the number one fear in this country. People would rather fall out of an airplane. That’s an inner block. Wanting to start a business or write a novel or change your career at last but saying, “That is an enormous undertaking and full of risks,” and letting your constant fear of taking chances stop you is an inner opponent.

“Many people slow down or stop completely when they approach the achievement of their goals, even goals they have been striving for for years, and then may never achieve them. No one knows why this is true, but that tendency is a dragon that has to be struck through. Going back and forth on a decision for weeks, months, or years, and never making up your mind what to do is an inner opponent. Get with it. Stop wasting the one short life you have. Our lives are like cherry blossoms that don’t last long in the wind that blows them from the tree. You’ve got to make a decision. Inner blocks/dragons create very sad states of affairs, and how you can acquire the ability to overcome them is worth looking into.

“But no block is a fate, a destiny. You don’t have to continue being the way you have been. Personalities can change, habits can change. I’ve seen lives changed almost miraculously. We can start fresh this moment. That’s the whole point. A cat becomes all the cat it will ever be without having to think about it, but we’re not cats. We all have an urge to make full use of our talents and to live a life we are designed for. That was to be your destiny. But we are not served a fulfilling life on a platter. We have to work at becoming all that we hold the promise of being—no room in this life for laziness or apathy.”


The Whole Secret of Existence is to be Free of Fear

FEAR is the block of blocks, the main obstacle, the principal opponent, the most fearsome dragon. Fear is as much a part of living as breathing. You are afraid of at least one thing every day—small things, big things, happiness-threatening things. There are a thousand fears that dominate people and keep them from a better life. Fear creates anxiety. This is the age of anxiety. Fear creates failure.

All inner blocks, all dragons, are a result of fear. What is the whole secret of existence? It is to be free of fear. The samurai was told, “Be fearless, have no fear.” What the samurai learned and that made them exceptional—ordinary people who through training became extraordinary– we can learn.


Head a blank sheet of paper or go to the computer. Head a list “Inner Dragons.” Then jot down anything you can think of in you that’s keeping you from achieving greater success in any part of your life. See how easy that is to do? No one ever needs to tell you what your blocks are. Now you’re aware of the inner dragons you will have to conquer.


The Japanese samurai were soldiers in the service of a Lord, like our soldiers in Afghanistan in service to the country. Imagine a samurai warrior going into battle. Across the field is the enemy. To go into battle he—or she (there were women samurai)–had to overcome the identical emotions we encounter every day, the emotions we’ve been talking about. They had to conquer fear and the other dragons like self-doubt in themselves. If they didn’t overcome those blocks the consequences were serious, even fatal. They had to learn courage and bravery, for example—things of the heart–things we need every day, prerequisites of truly effective living.

So what did the samurai do? They did something astounding. They developed an entire complete system—called musha shugyo— to conquer their dragons—your dragons—the most effective, most unique, such system ever devised by man which Fighting to Win updates and applies to 21st century work and life. Said the samurai:

“The end of our way of the sword is to be fearless when confronting our inner enemies and our outer enemies.”

“When you meet calamities and rough situations it isn’t enough simply to say you’re not flustered. Whenever you meet difficult situations dash forward bravely and joyfully.”

“Go to the battlefield firmly confident of victory and you will come home with no wounds whatsoever.”

“The greatest warrior is the one who conquers himself.”


“We give blocks too much power. We let them prevent us from leading the lives we dream of. So they have to be conquered. You have to get rid of them. And that can be done. When you live like that—focusing again and again on a better life, conquering one impediment after another—you are suddenly filled with tremendous power, and a bright light shines around you like a private sun.”

“I wish I could hire a samurai to help me.”

“Why? Be a samurai yourself.”

© 2014 David J. Rogers


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Filed under Goals and Purposes

How a Better Life is Reached

“If you and I were as serious about a better life as we say we are, we would be willing to fight for it. We would always be certain of where that better life lay. We would take a clear and steady look ahead, knowing that we must never take our eyes off that life. We would look neither backwards, nor sideways, only forward. We would have no silly illusions, but would face life head-on, facing up to whatever it brings–good or bad. Once having decided on the life we’re looking for, we would move immediately to it, never delaying, never dawdling.

“When we faced difficult situations, we would not hide from them, but would go ahead to meet them, maintaining high spirits and complete faith in ourselves. We would never ignore or underestimate an obstacle, but all we would ask is where it is and how to get to it by the shortest route. We wouldn’t back off, not for a minute, not for any reason. We would always be moving and making progress toward that better life, never deviating or slowing down because we’re too lazy, or afraid, or self-doubting, or discouraged, or have been set-back by circumstances.

“You wouldn’t have to ask where we intended to go in life. You would be able to tell by watching us. Our undeviating aim would be to reach the life we can envision, letting no impediments keep us from it. We would know that in this life courage is a necessity, but that there really is nothing to be afraid of and no reason to hold anything back. Getting closer each day to a better life, our energy and strength would be boundless. Others would let go of their dreams, but we wouldn’t. We would draw from deeper inside and be willing to exhaust ourselves for the sake of our happiness.

“We would never lose the expectation that no matter what, we will succeed. Knocked down, we would maintain our confidence that all will go well as long as we get up. Knocked down seven times, we would get up eight. For that is how a better life is reached”

(From my updated eBook Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life.)

© 2014 David J. Rogers



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For my interview from the international teleconference with Ben Dean about Fighting to Win, click on the following link:


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Developing Talent, Human Potential, and Achievement: Living With a Purpose in Mind


My Sister Sharon

At times, it takes a severe blow to waken us our life’s purpose.

My younger sister Sharon died of bone cancer at the age of thirty-seven in a hospital in Honolulu, where she lived. She was a small, delicate woman with the will of a warrior. When a doctor came to see her as she lay in her bed, he jumped back in surprise as though he had been pushed. He said to her, “I feel your power coming out to me.” But she was dying. There was no hope.

Across from the hospital was a tall hotel with tennis courts on the roof. I would stand at the glass doors in Sharon’s hospital room and look straight across at the people in white outfits playing tennis on the green courts in the azure sunlight. I would think of how unfair it was that those players were running, jumping, laughing, swinging their rackets, and were happy while two hundred feet away in that cramped and dark hospital room was my little sister, innocent of any wrongdoing, thin and wasted, unable to stand anymore because the cancer had eaten away the bones in her legs and there were none left to support her, and in pain that was constant and unimaginable. I looked at her. She said, “I’m a mess, aren’t I?” and my heart broke. Once she had been beautiful. I prayed, “Dear God, give me her pain so she will be free of it.”

I told her that I had had writing a book in mind for a long time, but that I was very busy running the business I had started and really had no spare time, and that even if I did write it, it would take years to research and more years to write, and I wasn’t sure it would ever be published, and I had a wife and four children to support and couldn’t afford to take a chance. And I was afraid I would fail. But I didn’t tell her that.

She was in such pain that even the slightest, even the lightest, touch of another person on her was agony. So when I left to fly back home, knowing I would never see her again, I couldn’t kiss her. The pressure of my lips would bring her pain. I leaned over her and rested my head next to hers on the pillow. In my ear she whispered, “Dave, you write that book. I have faith in you.”

I returned home and set to work. No hindrance could stop me. What before had been a vague dream now became a purpose to devote myself to, to write a book, a good book, for my little sister. It became my wife’s purpose and my children’s too. Whenever I was down or discouraged that purpose fueled my resolve and made me return to the work to be done. To work long hours till dawn until the book was done.

I dedicated Fighting to Win to her with the inscription: “In memory of my sister Sharon. Just one word—courage.”

Living for a Purpose

What are we living for, merely to hang around life until we’re eighty-five or ninety, building bird houses and wondering while we sit in traffic why there aren’t as many raisins in the Raisin Bran? Merely to be alive and take up space is nothing special. For many people their own life is unfulfilling. They would rather be living someone else’s life.

The human mind is often perplexed when it doesn’t know which goal it should be pursuing. Its greatest burden is to decide what must be done. But when you discover what you must accomplish with your life and moments in it, uncertainty disappears and there comes something new and extraordinary into your existence. You become inspired and mighty. You’re electric with that rarest of qualities possessed by so few—INTENSITY. You move through life a foot off the ground

Then your every act takes on a power strong enough to bring down a wall of iron. All hesitations and fears fall away. You feel a zest, a tingle. Your imagination is on fire. Tedium disappears. It is strength to be of one mind, complete and undivided, fully drawn to a life with purposes you’ve chosen.

It is never justified to say you can’t find a purpose. Purposes lie all around us like glittering jewels. Make whatever you are doing your purpose of the moment, from the smallest act to the grandest. Give what you’re doing stature, however insignificant it may seem. Then you will have intensity.

For a shy girl to conquer her shyness and go to a party alone is a major purpose. She will need a strong will and great courage. To take a second job for your family is a purpose. To be an attentive parent is a purpose. To start out on a new career is a purpose. To save a rain forest is a purpose.

You cannot be dissatisfied when you’re rising to a purpose which needs you and for which you feel you were brought into the world. Then you are at your best, doing what in your best moments you are capable of. You find your most complete fulfillment while dedicating yourself to a task you believe in.

When you make a purpose out of what a moment before was merely a responsibility, a chore, or a duty by thinking, “This–what I am doing–now is my purpose” extraordinary achievements are possible. Obligations, heavy as stone a moment ago, become light as feathers. Your life becomes tinged with a kind of glory. You become tinged with glory, and there is hardly an obstacle that you can’t overcome, no obstacle out in the world, and no obstacle in you. Then you have both power and direction.

When You Rise in the Morning…

You are never too old and never too young. Some must wait longer than others for their purpose to become clear. But whatever the age, when you rise in the morning think of your purpose: day-dream of it. Devote the day to it.

Our main job is not to dwell on what lies dimly in the future, but to do what is clearly at hand. The only way to reach the future we envision is to pour ourselves totally into this day’s purpose. We find our way to our broad life purposes in daily increments. Each year our purpose is divisible by 365. Purposes need your attention not just once in a while, but every day, and many times during a day. “Today my purpose will be to…” Say to yourself, “Focus on your purpose” five, ten, fifteen times a day. Make those four powerful words a part of your life. They will change it.

In the morning, at lunch, in the afternoon, in the evening, when you brush your teeth and go to bed, focus on your purpose. If you have forgotten, remember and get back on track immediately. Never let a day go by without making progress.

Each day has its own significance, and each has a subsequent impact on your life. Each brings promise and good prospects with it. Every day we choose the directions we will take and what we will be. Every moment of your life diverse possibilities open before you. If you decide to do this today, and act accordingly, you will be A tomorrow. But if you decide to do that, you will be completely different. You will be B. So it is a good idea to decide in advance what you want to be when you wake tomorrow.

That is how you construct a future.

“I learned undeviating steadiness of purpose, and to look at nothing else, not even for a moment.” (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations)

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.” (George Bernard Shaw)

“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life; think of it; dream of it; live on that one idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.” (Vivekenanda, The Complete Works of Vivekenanda)

© 2014 David J. Rogers

For my interview from the international teleconference with Ben Dean about Fighting to Win, click on the following link:


How to Get The Book

Order Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life eBook by David J. Rogers

Fighting to win Amazon

Click on book image to order from




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Filed under Developing Talent, Human Potential and Achievement