Miyamoto Musashi understood the value of contrast when he wrote:

“By knowing the large, you know the small; and from the shallow, you reach the deep.” 

Contrast helps us to learn. Contrast helps us to grow.  

Early in my career, I learned what not to do. Could I design and build a commercial building with ease? No. But I could tell you the problems, challenges, and mistakes of men and women who had 30+ years of “experience.”

By studying failure with a relentless focus, I learned more about success. 

Construction and development are tough. Today’s world is adapting and evolving at a fast pace. 

But human nature is not that unchanged. The principles needed to outperform are as true today as they were in Japan during The Edo Period (1603-1868).

“If you do not know others, it is difficult to understand yourself.”

– Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

Do you have a broad enough perspective about your field, your people, your market? Now think about what you know in the context of over 3,000 years of human history. Your 30 years of experience is no longer that impressive.

How can Musashi be such a proficient swordsman, painter, poet, and writer?

He understood himself as well as those around him. He learned techniques and skills within the martial arts that also applied to the creative arts. 

Discipline. Perspective. Wisdom. Courage. Humility. 

These are words you rarely hear in our modern world, but I would argue are more important than ever. How else did small teams overcome incredible odds?

“Do large and small forces not meet in battle? There are many examples of small forces defeating large ones.”

– Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

Bigger is not always better. Some of the largest failures in the construction and real estate industry are from “big” companies with thousands of employees. You will hear people say we never saw this coming. 

What they are really saying is that we did not have proper perspective. We did not understand the value of contrast. We did not know where we were strong or where we were weak.

No one truly knows the value of winning, until they lose. No one truly understands the importance of preparation until they show up unprepared. 

Do not let fancy rhetoric and marketing talk fool you into thinking one company is better than the other. Size is important. But so is skill. 

Do you know the value of large in contrast with small? Do you know the value of a disciplined team compared to an undisciplined team? Do you know the value of a focused team member in contrast to a distracted team member?

Contrast is critical. Try to cultivate a broader view and better contrast in how you see your world today, tomorrow, and in the years to come.

The Real Con 021

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