In the blogs I write, I share lessons that I have learned spending twenty years in Japan. Here I want to look at integrity. The standard of integrity Japan achieved during the reign of the samurai is unparalleled in history. The rules of the shogunate and the feudal lords were precise and clear. The people followed the ethical standards that were the law or they were punished in a quick but often painful death. The Japanese as a whole are still the most moral people in the world.
Public behavior was regulated and visible for everyone to see. Morality was not based on religious doctrine but on very strict secular tenets that were designed to build a specific type of harmony in Japanese society. This is now generally referred to as “Japanese etiquette”. This was enforced by law, by custom, and by the acute sense of shame, the Japanese felt when they failed to live up to these social standards.
How does this promote success? By adhering to moral and social standards we are left with no doubt as to the correct way to act. There is absolutely no uncertainty or ambiguity about one’s behavior, everyone can focus on what has to be done.
Combined with other positive distinguishing features of the samurai character, loyalty, discipline, honesty, & perseverance, absolute integrity is crucial to achieving success, while maintaining the virtues of a moral society.
When someone has integrity he/she lives an honest, trustworthy and honorable life. Others are treated with respect, served to the highest possible extent, and treated as if he / she is the most important person in the world. This is how Japanese people live every day. I was so impressed when I went to a department store in Ginza Tokyo. From the moment I stepped through the doors I was greeted with a warm welcome, the staff spoke very politely and the quality of items was world class. The items were carefully wrapped like a beautiful work of art. I left feeling like a million dollars. This showed me a real glimpse of what it must be like to live in Heaven.
When people lose or forget things in public areas, they do not worry that someone will steal it. The item is either left for the person to return and get it as it was left, or it is handed into the local police box. Japan is the most respectful, sensitive, and punctual country I have ever lived in.
Another example of how integrity plays out in the workplace. In Japan, they work as a family. If a co-worker is slow and finds a job hard to do, the other workers help the person and no one leaves until all the work for the day has been done. There is no sarcasm or workers criticizing their managers. If there is a problem they meet and work it out with a go-between. Everyone knows their place and the companies work striving to make things the best that they can be.
If we all had that mindset there would be less time to squabble about petty, insignificant things. Until next time I wish you peace, love and success. Martin Acton sensei