Inamori’s Principle For Life: KDDI Founder Shares Secret to Success

Kazuo Inamori is one of the most distinguished business leaders in Japan. He founded Kyocera and KDDI. He is now restructuring JAL, accepting request from Japanese government. Yes, he is still an active businessman in his late-70s.

I once heard that he had created very unique corporate culture. I now understand what that meant. Little old-school, but he does have refreshing messages for us.

In this book, he summarizes his philosophy about life and business, how the right thinking can lead to success. He also talks about spirituality, a subject Japanese tend to avoid.

Some of my favorite Inamori’s laws.

Formula for success in life and business: Mindset x Passion x Ability

This is multiplication, not addition. Even if you are not the smartest person in the industry (ability), if you are full of energy (passion) and work with the right attitude (mindset), you can stand out. We should note that the value for mindset can be negative, so if you have wrong mindset, well, you can ruin everything.

Think HARD about your goal until you can visualize them in COLOR

They say you become what you think about, but I used to wonder how long should I be thinking? This might be the answer. Until you can visualize them in color.

Hey, didn’t the protagonist in Black Swan see very vivid dream in the beginning? Obsession, or even madness, might not be a bad thing. Maybe they are required in some sense.

Simple principles tend to be ignored

Inamori-san said he was sometimes ridiculed when he talked about his philosophy. His philosophy sounded childish to some. Like something people teach in elementary school. Inamori-san points out that this is exactly the problem, how people undervalue simple lessons, like Be Honest, for example.

We lie all the time in business. It is considered to be a part of business practices. But what I keep seeing these days is that these business lies accumulate. Eventually it overflows, and causes bigger problem.

We keep hearing about all those business and political scandals. Most of the times, they could have avoided the worst case only if they were at least honest about it from the beginning.

I once heard Guy Kawasaki saying, “I mean what I say, and I say what I mean.”

I should ponder this…

When faced complex problem, go back to simple principle

Not only lying, we all love to make things complicated. Most of us believe that will somehow makes us complicated being. Smarter. That is partially true, but out of complexity, we must find simplicity, like all scientists do.

Rather than being economic/military superpower, we should build country of “virtue”

I have been thinking about this since Tohoku Earthquake this year. Maybe what we need is not to regain our old-self as economic giant. Maybe it’s time for us to shoot for next level of wealth. Be a country of virtue. We have a good history of being anti-nuclear bomb. Good start. We can redefine what each country should strive for… OK, obviously I have no idea what that is in details, but I do believe the real future is there…

Fabric called Life is woven with Causality and Destiny

Sometimes good action does not cause good result on time, as one expected. One suspects, after all, life isn’t that simple. Well, that might not be true. That might just mean destiny is in the way.

There is one variable and one constant for life; Causality and Destiny, respectively.

Inamori-san believes there is a destiny for everyone, but you can still control your life, using the principle of cause and effect. Important thing to note, he said, is that causality is slightly stronger than destiny. That means we can always control our lives. (I am not so sure about it, but yes, I like to believe so…)

If you don’t work on it, your destiny will control your life. You just ride on it. If you do something about it, think and work hard, you could even change the most stubborn destiny of yours.

That’s a nice, well-balanced way of looking at life, don’t you think? I love this notion.

稲盛 和夫
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