How Have You Seen Integrity Modeled for You?

Does it Include Focused and Intentional Action?

Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

The Bushidō code is a combination of 8 different core virtues that directed the samurai on how to live. I have researched these virtues and have adopted and blended them into the context of the time we are now living. I have also discovered that focusing on these eight virtues is a pathway to finding Work: Life Harmony for ourselves and living a life with more overall satisfaction.

I will be writing eight different articles, one for each virtue: Justice, Courage, Compassion, Respect, Integrity, Honor, Loyalty, & Self-Control. This is Article #5, Integrity.


Integrity is a natural byproduct that comes after showing respect for others and yourself. When you respect the journey that you’re on, you become much more aware of the actions you’re taking or not taking.

It gives you visibility into yourself and those around you. Being able to live with Integrity is a critical aspect of the Bushidō code. It is important to me because it shows others how I live my life and how I carry myself.

The word Makoto is used for Integrity in the Bushidō code. Makoto can also be thought of as sincerity, honesty, and fidelity. When you look at the individual parts of the kanji character for Integrity (誠), it reveals the meaning of turning our words into action.

Taking action can look different for different people. For the purpose of this article, I want to zero in on focused action.

Zanshin can be interpreted as: “The mind with no remainder.” It is about focused action. Being constantly aware of your body or mind and the environment you find yourself in. You are able to do this without experiencing unnecessary stress.

It leads to the ability to be vigilant with your mind and your body without expending a lot of effort. This illustrates practice and discipline in action.

The samurai did this well; and leaders can also understand and practice this state of mind. When you are experiencing a state of Zanshin, you are focusing only on the current task, not getting lost in a hypothetical future, and standing back up when you are knocked down.

The samurai practiced with their weapons so often they were able to use them no matter what conditions were present. So much so there are stories of samurai being able to use their bows and arrow to hit a target in the pitch-black dead of night. The muscle memory and discipline take over in this moment, which leads to the next state of mind.

Tips for Building Integrity with Zanshin

Here are a few tips to consider when you want to live with more Zanshin in your life:

  • Don’t let heuristics rule the day: We all have heuristics at work at every moment of the day. Our brains are always looking for mental shortcuts to give the thinking center of the brain as many breaks as possible. To combat this, it is important to remain a student and stay curious about what is happening around you. Just because the day might look like a day that has already happened, it is, in fact, new, and the situation has changed from the last time. Stay curious to find out what has changed.
  • Practice personal kaizen: Personal kaizen (change for the better) is the discipline needed to succeed in life. We are going to fail at things at some point, it is part of the natural stages of learning. Don’t back away from the idea of failing, embrace it. Learn how you can fail fast and gracefully so you can quickly move on after being knocked down.
  • Practice self-reflection: The Japanese word for self-reflection is hansei. There is a hansei practice I recommend all of my clients practice daily or, at the very least, weekly. It is an opportunity to learn what things I said I was going to do but didn’t, how did I show up as a leader of myself and my team, what things I did do particularly well, and where I have opportunities for improvement. Staying curious about things includes ourselves and the reasons we respond to different situations the way that we do.

If you’d like to learn more about Integrity or the other seven virtues of the Bushidō code, check out my book “Always Improving: Lessons from the samurai.”

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