If you are not already familiar, Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵, c. 1584 – June 13, 1645) is arguably one of Japan’s most famous swordsmen. He is the author of Go Rin No Sho, or The Book of 5 Rings, one of the most widely read yet probably least understood guides to strategy ever written.
The Book of 5 Rings is divided into (as you might expect) 5 chapters. Within the first chapter, The Ground Book (or “earth” depending on which translation you read), is one of my all time favorite Musashi quotes. As he outlines his broad principles of strategy, he gives 9 principles for those who wish to study his way:
1.Do not think dishonestly.
2.The Way is in training.
3.Become acquainted with every art.
4.Know the Ways of professions.
5.Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.
6.Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything.
7.Perceive those things which cannot be seen.
8.Pay attention even to trifles.
9.Do nothing which is of no use.
He then goes on to say how important it is to set these broad principles in your heart in order to begin learning the way of strategy. While I agree with Musashi that each one of these principles is important and deserves greater exploration, in this post I want to hone in on my favorite one, number 9, “Do nothing which is of no use.”
Do Nothing Which is of No Use
Wow. Read that again. What an unbelievable qualifier on how to live your life. Imagine if you could actually take this principle to heart and follow it every day for the rest of your life. How much would you accomplish? To what great heights would you soar? Think about this deeply…
If you really followed Musashi’s advice to do nothing which is of no use, what would change?
How would your job change is you eliminated all the superfluous crap that you do on a daily basis? The busy work that seems urgent, but is not very important. The mundane tasks that you somehow inherited that really contribute nothing to your overall productivity, but you still have to deal with day after day. What would transform in your job or your business if you simply eliminated them because they are of no use?
How would your relationships with other people change? Would you continue to make time for people who are a complete drain on your life and your energy? Would you choose your relationships differently be they business relationships, friend relationships, or intimate relationships? How much closer and stronger would your real relationships grow if you could push aside and remove the ones that were of no use?
How would your training change if you did nothing which is of no use? Where would you focus your time? What unbelievable results could you obtain if you only spent time on the training, the exercises, the movements that contributed the most to your overall development as an individual martial artist or athlete or complete human being? How fast would you progress towards and achieve your goals if you eliminated the things which were of no use?
How would your entire life change? Think about it. Put it into practice. Live it. Do Nothing Which is of No Use.