I know this much about you: at one time or another your chances for a better life, once very high, changed and seemed dim. Your spirits plummeted because whatever advantage you once held had slipped away. On another day you regained the advantage. Then your spirits instantly soared, and you were the one thing you had always wished to be: happy.
The swing of the advantage–to you or away from you–is something that-occurs in every aspect of your life and mine from childhood through old age. The advantage is like a ball passing back and forth between you and life. No one ever holds the advantage all the time. The advantage can swing to you or away from you at any time. Sometimes you hold the advantage, and an ideal life and great achievements in your career or personal life seem so near you can touch them with your fingers. Then you suffer a setback, a crisis, or a major problem, and you’re driven down into the dark depths of discouragement. You have lost the advantage, and your need now is to get it back.
Then you shake off discouragement and take decisive action. Once you’re in action, opportunities appear like jewels you pick up off the ground. The advantage is yours once more, and a better life unfolds like the petals of a rose. Your dreams are no longer mere fantasies but facts that you now incorporate into your life You turn directions, changing into a new being. For example, the success you wanted was to publish a book. You work hard. Your book is published, and now the identity that will never leave you is yours: “published author.
“The Swing of the Advantage” is a concept from my print best seller Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life (now available as an eBook). From the twelfth through the nineteenth centuries Japanese samurai (bushi) were fighting men and women in service of a lord, a “daimyo.” They were the greatest warriors who ever lived, and based their expertise on physical, psychological, and Zen spiritual insights and techniques that they acquired through as demanding training as there has ever been in any discipline. Their skills were legendary. Fighting To Win prescribes their spiritual/psychological insights and adaptations of their techniques for overcoming obstacles to a productive and fulfilling life.
Samurai tactics never changed. They are a philosophy and life style–a “kamae,” a battle stance or posture,” a “Way.” They are “zan totsu“–which means “rushing straight ahead into action” and “mo chih ch’u,” which is “going ahead confidently without hesitation.” The samurai were conditioned to confront, not avoid, difficulties, to embrace them, to race directly and swiftly to what you fear most. Were we to rush into our fear without hesitations many of our problems would be dispensed with quickly. When you approach your life and your work mo chih ch’u, fearlessly, your strength increases fourfold and you go straight to your goal.
Samurai were taught “Trust only movement” and “Test your armor, but only test the front” because you are not in action–in your everyday life, in your occupation and other pursuits–to run away and hide from “inner dragons.” Dragons are the sum total of all your fears, anxieties, and inhibitions. Seeking freedom from dragons, samurai “strike through the dragon’s mask.”
You can use this samurai concept of the swing of the advantage to gain victories. Like samurai you can face up to difficulties and rush to the attack—confronting and overcoming obstacles, not hesitating, not hanging back, but solving problems–dispensing with useless patterns of thought and action that have led you from your goals rather than to them. Then you will be filled with the exhilarating surge of the powerful energy (“ki’) of a man or woman on the attack. You are not looking back, not fearful of facing up to what lies ahead in the fog of life, but committed in spirit and mind to the action in front of you not tomorrow, but in this single fleeting moment of time, gaining back the swing of the advantage before this moment ends.
Let’s say you’re afraid to take a chance and the opportunity slips away. You’ve given up the advantage. But then you take the chance and succeed. You’ve seized the advantage back. Sometimes your diet is going well. But at other times you ravenously raid the cookie jar Once again fattening food has gained the advantage and your self-esteem and health are in jeopardy. But then you get a little angry and recommit yourself, and achieve your target weight. You have regained the advantage.
- Recognize and be prepared for swings of the advantage–sometimes to you and other times away from you. Because you and I are alive, neither of us is a stranger to the swing of the advantage.
- Make the loss of the advantage only a temporary impediment. Say to yourself, “Oops, there goes the advantage.” Then quickly, without stopping to bemoan your plight, use your determination, spirit, and decisive action to get it back. And when it swings back over to you–when you have solved a longstanding problem, for example, or overcome an obstacle that has stopped you for as long as you can remember–don’t stop to congratulate yourself. Don’t stop at all. When you’re gaining ground on a better life say, “You can’t escape me. I’m on your trail.” Just keep moving in the only direction that matters–forward toward your goals.
- Don’t delude yourself into believing you have the advantage when you don’t. Life is to be looked at in one way–squarely in the eye–and a fool’s paradise is hell in disguise.
- Maintain a powerful spirit–confident and daring–that cannot be stopped however far away from you the advantage has swung. It couldn’t matter less how often you’ve lost the advantage or how far away from you it swings, only that you have it when it matters most.
Is there any area in your personal or professional life right now in which the advantage has swung away from you? What will you do to get the advantage back? Whatever it is, don’t delay. Run straight toward it zan totsu–boldly.
© 2020 David J. Rogers
For my interview from the international teleconference with Ben Dean about Fighting to Win, click the following link:
Order Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life eBook by David J. Rogers
Order Waging Business Warfare: Lessons From the Military Masters in Achieving Competitive Superiority
12 responses to “The Swing of the Advantage ”
“a fool’s paradise is hell in disguise.” Nicely put, David.
Sue, it’s so good to hear from you. Thank you very much. Your comment pleases me because if there’s anyone who knows good writing, it’s you.
Thank you, David.
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David, you found me just where I am today. Fibromyalgia flare, left hand and forearm in a brace for the next six weeks to try to avoid surgery, chronic fatigue, and computer corruption caused massive proofreading setback for my nonfiction book in progress…. I’ll bounce back soon. I always do. I always have, but can I do it again? I’ve been thinking lately how much simpler my life would be if I just gave up on my novel. After all, I’m 67 years old. Was I delusional to write a novel and think I could get it published? Are these self-doubts or a reality check? Is all this just 2020 fatigue? Not sure what the future holds. Ready for the pendulum to swing in the other direction for a while.
Janet, I am so sorry that you are suffering. Those are awful things you are enduring. But you could do the novel project again from scratch–five times more if that’s needed. All people who have an exceptional project like a novel fall into deep self-doubt at times. But your novel is in a way your assignment. It’s yours to finish, not to go halfway, your role to persist and write it skillfully enough that someone will publish it. The great majority of writers quit before the job is done. You don’t want to be just one of the crowd do you? Alexander the Great called his destiny to rule the world his “star.” It is your star to, with indefatigable faith in yourself and hard work, hard as you are able, to see your book published.
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Thank you for your words of encouragement, David. The novel has a hold on me that I can’t explain. It’s on my mind constantly, even on — no, especially on days I don’t/can’t work on it. I guess it is my star! I can’t seem to quit.
Janet, I think there are good and bad things about being in your state of mind when your writing is always in your thoughts. The good thing is, the more your mind is working om the work, the better the work is going to be. The bad thing is that when you write a novel, everything you encounter during that time seems to be relevent to your book. You see a tree and think, “I can use that tree,” and hear a chime and recall one Christmas day when you were twelve and think that too would be perfect for your book. And on and on. Your mind gets cluttered.
A wonderful and inspiring post. Thank you.
Something that is very clear to me is that there will always be ups and downs….times of advantage when we feel as if everything we touch turns to gold, and then of course the swings in the opposite direction. What I have learned is that all of it is key to the creative’s journey. All of it nurtures us and ultimately spurs us on. I try to record these moment and find that when I look. back on my notes, sometimes years later, they always help and put wherever I am at that time into prespective.
I hope you and the family are all well….We are in a second national lock down….but it’s OK…we do what we have to do, and I for one feel very grateful that I can paint and write throughout.
Happy writing my friend….and my very best wishes to you and all the family. Janet :)X
Your comment is optimistic, wise, and says something I’d not thought of but all of us should–the wonderful things that happen to us and the awful are both reflected in our creative work. I’ve read so much I’ve for gotten where I read it, but an idea of one writer along similar lines is that the person who has the most to say to us is the one who has experienced most intensely both the breadth of experience and its depth. You always have so much to say about creative experiences that I value and pay attention to, and I know many others do too.
I am working on a short story that is no more fiction than my nose–it is direct from my life. It is piecing itself together before my eyes without much conscious direction. It is telling me, “Don’t interfere. Just stay alert, get out of the way, and write what I tell you to.” Great pleasure and fun for me.
Thank you for your concern with us here. So far, so good with my family though the national news is grim. But we are being extremely careful, as are you, I hope, dear friend. Thanks for letting me know what’s on your mind,
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I look forward very much to reading your short story….sounds fascinating. I know that when I get out of the driver’s seat – good things tend to happen:). Stay well and wash hands……X
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Dear David, I’m sorry I missed this post. You have my gratitude for sharing these words of encouragement. I guess that sometimes we find things at the times when we are best able to “hear” them. I hope all is well in your world. Hugs on the wing!
Thank you for your comment, Teagan. I’m glad the post came to you at a good time. I’ve been thinking about you and hope you are well. Yesterday my wife and I Zoomed with all my children and grandchildren. It was great. Are you getting together with loved ones on Zoom?
Hugs to you too.