Embracing Defeat

So I’m still thinking about Japan… 🙂 I bought a book on Amazon I saw in an airport (no time to buy, catching a flight : ) called “Embracing Defeat” which is a book about how Japan recovered after the second WW. Then I started reading a copy of Bloomberg Businessweek I had bought (in an airport : ). In their “Opening Remarks” section there was an article called “The Cataclysm This Time,” that reiterates what I’ve been saying about Japan:

Japan historians often note that major earthquakes in 1855, 1923, and 1995 coincided with, and perhaps caused, significant national turning points. This is the hope of those who think Japan must set itself on a new trajectory to compete in the 21st century, that disaster might be transformative.

The most famous example of Japanese resilience is the recovery from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From the ashes of history’s only two nuclear attacks came a new democratic constitution and a zeal for creating a vibrant trading economy.

As all good Diamond Cutter practitioners know; I’d take issue with the use of the word “caused” here, but the fact remains that “disasters” seem to be a prelude to great positive change for Japan. So what does Japan need to do to use this time as transformative and spark a comeback like they have done after other similar disasters?

The article gives some suggestions: The country’s leadership is aging and “coddles the elderly,” Japan’s political establishment has been “reluctant to tap its female workforce,” and incentives “protect national champions and at the top of the corporate food chain at the expense of startups that would create wealth and jobs at the other end of the economy.”

So this is my standard modus operandi; are any of these causes for success or failure?

Can taking care of the elderly be a cause for economic loss? No. Taking care of people only plants seeds to see yourself taken care of. Barking up the wrong tree there.

What about tapping the potential female workforce? I like that one. Creating opportunities for others would only create opportunities for yourself. Geshe Michael has taught that by hiring women at a time in the States when it wasn’t popular to do so, what his business experienced was a sudden growth in a sector that suddenly had disposable income–young woman who could afford to buy diamond jewelry. 🙂

What about cutting incentives to big companies so that little guys can compete? I don’t see any cause and effect there. Sure, encouraging small startups might improve things, but it seems to me that the success or failure of Japan’s economy rests in the hands of the big electronics and automotive industries that put Japan on the map in the first place. Helping them be successful isn’t going to hurt anyone. I might look at other ways to encourage small business…

But really, what’s the main thing? How do we plant the seeds to be successful?

Of course, help others be successful. 🙂

I was reading in “Embracing Defeat” that for all the things Japan did right post WWII there was some tragedies as well:

Similarly, once sentimental effusions had been dispensed with, the war’s youngest victims were treated abysmally. War orphans and homeless children almost by definition became “improper” children. Forced to scramble for daily survival on the streets, they became treated as incorrigible delinquents. Long after the war ended, the government not only had no effective policy for caring for these children, but scant grasp of the dimensions of the problem… A February 1948 report put the number of orphaned and homeless children combined at 123,510.

So the answer for me is, look for somebody–orphan, elderly, young and disillusioned–and help them reach success. And whether we’re in Japan or not, we can do it for someone and dedicate the seeds.

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4 Responses to Embracing Defeat

  1. Peter Axtell says:

    Wisdom wisdom wisdom. We just can’t hear this enough. It’s inspiring to me to be part of the change in correct world view. Sometimes it seems counterintuitive and that’s what makes it really interesting. Keep writing, you are planting great seeds for all of us to plant more seeds and gradually destroy doubt. Great stuff.
    PS: one disturbing thing i noticed though….what’s up with the capital “I”???…:)

  2. Chuck says:

    Here’s my “2 cents”…when we’re writing for other people, we need to try to help people focus on what we’re saying, not how we’re saying things. Especially when we’re writing about serious things – like how people around the world can keep food on the table and gas in their cars. If people start noticing non-standard use of spelling, grammar, syntax in what we write, their minds will not be focused on what we’re trying to convey. The next thing you know, they’ll be thinking about us – not what we’re saying. And we’ll be wasting their time.

  3. Chuck says:

    I will paraphrase one of the great thinkers of the past, in this case probably an Ancient Greek:

    “Know Thy Audience”.

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