In one's thirties one is in the prime of life. A company prospers through the efforts of employees in their thirties who support the section chiefs and department heads, who are in their forties and fifties. The dramatist Zeami (1363 - 1443) wrote in his Fushi Kaden (The Transmission of the Flower of Acting Style) that Noh actors reach the peak of their career at the age of thirty-four or thirty-five:
For if during these years the actor thoroughly studies the fine
points of dramatics and masters the mysteries of his art, he will
no doubt become known for his mastery and acquire fame. If at
this time society's approval is not forthcoming and he does not
attain the reputation he aspires to, however skillful he eventually
becomes he must know that his blossom has not yet reached its glory.
Someone who works hard in their teens and twenties will surely bloom in their thirties. However, Zeami says above that even though you have perfected your professional skills, if the people around you do not recognize it, you have not yet become the genuine article.
Every opportunity I have to speak to young people, I tell them they should try to be "number one" at their place of work. Some may think this is expecting the impossible, but it is not. All one has to do is become the very best at something. This is not restricted to the young; it is equally important for people in middle age. "When it comes to knowing products, that's the person to go to." "If you need some calculating done, she's the best." "When it comes to dealing with wholesalers, he's your man." "For straightening out difficulties, that person is tops." Even such matters of skill will do. Or it might be a matter of character. "If it's serious, he's your man." "She's tops when it comes to persevering." "When it comes to kindness, no one is kinder." In any case, it is important to try to be the best at something. If you can be above average in even one thing, you will feel more confident. That becomes a source of strength. Once you have set your sights on what you want to accomplish and devote all your energy to it, your true worth will become apparent.
Many years ago the critic Daizo Kusayanagi expressed a concern that society had entered an age of "low hurdles," in which most people were lowering the hurdles they had to jump over and were satisfied to do so. Although they thought they were making full use of their potential, they were putting out only 60 to 70 percent. One can hardly expect growth in such a situation.
Each person makes some kind of effort in their life. For those of us who live in society and hold jobs to earn a living, that is perfectly natural. The degree of effort depends on our determination to use uncompromisingly whatever strengths we possess, in order to grow in our jobs and achieve breadth and depth as human beings. Moreover, when we throw ourselves heart and soul into one particular thing, we cultivate honesty and confidence.
If we broaden our vision further, we discover that our various endeavors are intricately tied together in the mesh we call society. Since many people in society contribute and render service to everyone else by doing better than average and more than is expected, society blossoms, filling with vitality, exuberance, inspiration, and a sense of purpose.
Everyone has some ability that is beyond the ordinary. There may be some who lament that they do not, but they are mistaken. The simple fact is that they have not developed their potential.
In the Buddha's time there was in India a powerful kingdom called Kosala. Its queen, Mallika, was of common origin, and as a young girl she worked in a flower garden where hair ornaments were made. One day while Pasenadi, the young king of Kosala, was walking in the garden, he happened to notice Mallika and asked her for water to rinse his feet. The lukewarm water she brought soothed his feet. The king then asked for water to wash his face. This time she brought water that was slightly cool, and it felt very refreshing on his face. Increasingly delighted, the king then asked for water to quench his thirst. The water that Mallika brought to him was very cold, and pleasing to the throat. When the king inquired into the matter, she replied, "The water for your feet was from the surface of the spring, warmed by the sun's rays. The water for your face was from lower down, and the water for you to drink was from the depths." The king promptly decided that she was just the one to be his wife, and he took her to his castle and made her queen of Kosala.
Everyone knows that the temperature of a body of water varies according to the depth, but only someone unusually considerate would use that knowledge to please someone. Because Mallika was that kind of person, she found unexpected happiness.
Shigenobu Okuma (1838 - 1922), the founder of Waseda University in Tokyo and twice prime minister of Japan, is said to have had poor handwriting. When he was young his calligraphy teacher was a useless drunkard and did not teach his pupil well, and Okuma took a dislike to writing. He completed his studies at the Saga fief school, the Kodokan, and went on to a school of the Dutch and English languages in Nagasaki. He so disliked writing that he took no notes of the lectures, but instead did his best to remember them. This strengthened his memory, and later as a politician he never forgot even the most complicated discussion. This is an example of a man who developed his skill through his own efforts.
Another example is of Kiyoshi Ichimura (1900 - 1968), the founder of the Ricoh-San-Ai conglomerate, known as an "idea president" and a master of management. Shortly after World War II, several years after he started out in business, he spotted a large plot of vacant land in the Ginza district of central Tokyo, and repeatedly asked the elderly woman who owned it to sell it to him, but she always refused, saying she could not part with land that had always been in her family. Undaunted, Ichimura continued to call on her. Deciding to refuse him once and for all, she went to call on him at his office. The day was cold and sleeting. When she arrived at the office, a young female employee greeted her with a smile and politely offered her slippers to change into. These were ordinary courtesies. But the young woman also took out her handkerchief and wiped the hem of the older woman's kimono, which was wet from the sleet. The old woman was impressed by such thoughtfulness and decided that she liked the kind of company that would hire such employees. She changed her mind on the spot and told Ichimura she would sell him the land. The young woman was unusually considerate. Her kindness and the way in which she received visitors contributed greatly to the company's future.
Knowing and developing your own special talent will give you confidence and a sense of strength.
Copyright © by Rissho Kosei-kai. All rights reserved.