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The Shibumi Strategy: A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change Hardcover – November 16, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

With this short, simple fable, Matthew May manages to illuminate an all-too-common career crisis with Zen insights and concepts that not only provoke thought but also give readers powerful strategies to tackle change, challenge, and opportunity.”
—Gretchen Rubin, author, The Happiness Project

"Matt May has written a little book full of big ideas.  Drawing from ancient Zen practice and applying those principles to modern life, he shows how you can turn the obstacles in your path into opportunities to transform your career, perhaps even your life."
—Daniel H. Pink, author, Drive and A Whole New Mind

“Matt's done it again: shown us how to break out of constraints and get the job done. He's also proven how Japanese practices and Zen principles that are difficult to translate can explain everything.”
—Guy Kawasaki, co-founder, Alltop.com and author, Reality Check

"The holy grail for any leader is to reach a state of clarity and peak performance. Through the power of story, The Shibumi Strategy shows us how, and sheds an invaluable light on the role (and potential) of the everyday struggles we face."
—Scott Belsky, founder & CEO, Behance and author, Making Ideas Happen

"What an exquisite story! Matt May deftly weaves ancient wisdom with modern realities, revealing how each of us can embrace the struggle inherent in any meaningful breakthrough—and use it to transform our own potential in work and life."
—Sally Hogshead, author, Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation

“This is a treasure of a book, and just the kind of uplifting medicine that’s needed right now. It’s about something that in the west we don’t even have a name for, and yet it holds the key to finding our way in challenging times. When you know how to look at the events of your life, everything is there to show you what you can’t see on your own, and offer you opportunities that you normally walk right by. No matter your life circumstances, this is the kind of book that can (and almost certainly will) change your life.”
— Sarah Susanka, author, The Not So Big Life and The Not So Big House series

The Shibumi Strategy is a simple but affecting tale—a must-read for anyone looking to make sense of breakthrough change at work and in life.”
— Ori Brafman, coauthor, Click: The Magic of Instant Connections

The Shibumi Strategy tells a touching story with a universally resonant message you’ll want to keep close to your heart and share with others.”
— Maddy Dychtwald, author, Influence: HowWomen’s Soaring Economic Power Will Transform Our World for the Better

“This exceptional book is a game-changer. Read it. Apply it (fast). And step into your next level.”
— Robin Sharma, author, The Leader Who Had No Title and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

From the Inside Flap

"What if we are constantly being sent signals and offered opportunities, but because we are so involved in our mad rush to survive the day that we simply don't receive them? What if we're stuck, asleep at the wheel, and we just don't know it, because our conventional ways of thinking, rigidly structured routines, and solidly set minds block us from discovering what the universe is calling us to do?"

From the introduction

The Shibumi Strategy is a little book about a big breakthrough. It tells the story of Andy Harmon, a hardworking family man who finds himself in crisis when his company closes. Through his struggle, and guidance from unlikely sources, he learns subtle lessons in Zen principles, coming to understand that it is often the unexpected setbacks that harbor the power to transform. When approached as an opportunity, these unforeseen trials can often result in a life-changing breakthrough. For Andy, it comes in the form of shibumi—a Zen concept without direct translation in English but connoting effortless effectiveness, elegant simplicity, and the height of personal excellence.

Engaging and enlightening, The Shibumi Strategy provides a pathway for a five-phase cycle, encompassing lessons on commitment, preparation, struggle, breakthrough, and transformation. Also included are short insights, practical takeaways, and exercises for incorporating this philosophy in everyday life.

Designed to strike a universal chord, Andy's journey toward shibumi enables individuals to adopt their own interpretations of the concept and create meaningful changes in their lives. For those navigating difficult transitions, struggling to overcome internal setbacks, seeking to regain balance, or simply taking new directions, The Shibumi Strategy offers a fresh perspective on the challenges we all face at some point in work and life.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (November 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470769505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470769508
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #588,136 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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By Robert I. Sutton on December 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am one not a Zen or touchy-feely guy, so I began reading this book with considerable skepticism. But once I got past the first page or two, I was hooked, the story is great, it feels authentic and emotionally compelling, and as it unfolds it teaches you how to apply the Zen mindset and concepts to be more effective at what you do, more patient, to avoid pushing too hard, to keep pressing forward during tough times, and always, to chip away at small wins. It is nothing like a typical business book, and as a result, far more fun, satisfying, and useful then most other business books. It is a bit like Randy Komisar's The Monk and the Riddle, which is a great book that sold a lot, but it is even better and I think even more useful for most of us.

Bob Sutton
Stanford Professor and author of Good Boss, Bad Boss
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Format: Hardcover
Einstein's observation correctly suggests the importance of eliminating non-essential complexity. Rather, focus on whatever is most important to achieving the given task, to answering the given question or to solving the given problem. This is what Marcus Aurelius has in mind when suggesting, "Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul; and observe how all things have reference to one perception, the perception of this one living being; and how all things act with one movement; and how all things are the cooperating causes of all things which exist; observe too the continuous spinning of the thread and the contexture of the web." Therefore, "Look to the essence of a thing, whether it be a point of doctrine, of practice, or of interpretation."

In his latest book, Matthew May offers a business parable and this is quite a bold departure from his approach in two previous books, In Pursuit of Elegance and The Elegant Solution. Briefly, the protagonist (Andy Harmon) is in his 40s, married with a family, and suddenly finds himself unemployed in Twin Falls, a "one company town" that has lost its largest employer, Mega Box Electronics. Should he relocate to another area in which jobs are more plentiful or remain and take his chances, such as they are? Either way, the risks are daunting. After giving the situation a great deal of thought, he decides to work for a local automobile dealership.

In this context, I am reminded of one of the most thoughtful books I have ever read on the subject of coping with setbacks, delays, frustrations, "crucibles" and even tragedies: Seth Godin's The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick), published by Portfolio/Penguin in 2007.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Shibumi Strategy is a little business novel with a strong Japanese and Lean influence (coming from the authors years of work with Toyota). The novel is about finding your way and achieving Shibumi, which doesn't have a good translation but roughly translates to flow or perfection (according to the author).

The story is about Andy who is a sales manager in a company in a small city in the US. His company decides to move the work to another location and hence everyone who worked there is laid off. The city is a small city however and there aren't much jobs available. Andy needs to decide whether to stay and find a new job or move back to the city. He decides to stay and applies to a job for a car dealer (as a car salesman). He has never worked as a car salesman before and will need to prove himself in this new job. He is out of balance, will Andy find his balance again? (I won't share the end of the story).

The Shibumi strategy is a well written and engaging small novel. It is only about 140 pages, so it is a quick read (and a worthy read). I enjoyed reading it a lot and would recommend it, especially when you like the business novel genre. I didn't find it perfect and didn't like it as much as e.g. The Lean Manger (from Balle and Balle). There was also at times a bit too much Japanese terms being used with little description or explanation of its in-depth meaning. Still, worth reading! 4 stars.
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It is amazing how a small book can hold so many life-changing thoughts. A quick read, but don't fool yourself - you'll be thinking about what you read for days - weeks - months. Sort of the opposite of traditional business books that are long reads but could be condensed down to a few pages. Highly recommended if you want a different perspective on your life and career and are willing to change.
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Small book brimming with potentially life-changing ideas. The story format is a wonderful vehicle for the personal Zen principles that the character is shown as he needs them. A nice hero's journey with astounding change in store. Many books that purport to teach Eastern philosophic principles are dry as dust, but this little package of dynamite is the exception. Highly readable, illuminating, and I believe will be very helpful for beginning my own journey.
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Format: Hardcover
I am not a big fan of business fable books. Usually too much fable, too little substance. But I enjoyed May's last book and so got this one. Glad I did.He clearly communicates the basics of Buddhist business thought:continuous improvement; relfection on performance (even when---especially when---you are doing well);understanding that what may appear as failure is often a disguised opportunity. It is a different and effective way of thinking.The message:it is simple but simple is hard. Buddhist bottom line:change the way you think and you change the way you act Short and can be read in one sitting,and so will be re-read. Useful appendix.
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