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They can't kill you if you're already dead

The Samurai had a guiding principle called Hagakure, which goes something like this:

Begin each day by pondering death as it's climax. Each morning, with a calm mind, conjure images in your head of your last moments. See yourself being pierced by bow and arrow, gun, sword, or spear, or being swept away by a giant wave, vaulting into a fiery inferno, taking a lightning strike, being shaken to death in a great earthquake, falling hundreds of feet from a high cliff top, succumbing to a terminal illness, or just dropping dead unexpectedly. Every morning, be sure to meditate yourself into a trance of death. 

The idea being that, if a samurai visualizes his own death deeply every morning, when he is actually faced with one of these scenarios, he isn't surprised, shocked or otherwise faced with an emotion that can affect clear thinking. When you have visualized every possible scenario and are ready for the worst of it, no matter what you face, you will do it with a calm and rational mind.

While starting every morning visualizing the different ways in which our lives may come to an end is a bit extreme, we can definitely put the power of visualization to our use.

Scared of going up on stage and giving a talk? Hesitating to go ahead with a decision you know you ought to? Fearful of hitting publish on that email or that blog post?

Use the power of visualization to imagine all of the ways it could go wrong, and you will see that they aren't the end of the world.

And if you're ready for the worst of it, you'll go ahead and do what you need to with a calm and rational miind.



(Hat-tip to Ben Horowitz)

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