Most mornings I read Seth Godin’s blog.  Godin is a marketing guru who frequently focuses on issues relating to art and creativity, but I also see him as a
philosopher.  He usually writes something worth thinking about.  This morning he talked, briefly, about “losing” because of self-doubt and self censoring.   Godin used the word “kamiwaza,” which I had not previously come across.  So I googled it, and found a conversation between Seth and John Wall on the Ronin Marketeer that discussed Godin’s book the Icarus Deception, and not only defined kamiwaza, but provided good advice to any artist on how to take a chance, be brave, and really put yourself out there. Since hesitancy to put myself “out there” is one of my problems, I thought others may also hang back, and I should share Godin’s insights.  An excerpt from the interview is below.  You can read the full interview at Ronin Marketeer.

Seth Godin:
We’re afraid to stand up because we’re afraid that someone’s going to say, “How dare you? What right do you have? What hubris for you to stand up and say you know anything?”

To be open means being vulnerable to feedback. Vulnerability ignites the enemy of arts and creativity, which is shame. Everyone carries some shame around. We don’t want it activated. We don’t want to be called out for flying too close to the sun. So it’s easier to just hunker down and wait for things to get back to normal.

The stories of the gods are stories of what we could do and what we could become. The Japanese have a term for this, which is “kamiwaza.” “Kamiwaza” means god-like, with no wasted motion, with confidence, and yes, with hubris. And so, when we see a cheetah running through the jungle, we see kamiwaza, because the cheetah could not run any better, any more fluidly, any more perfectly. But when human beings set out to do it, we check ourselves. We hold ourselves back. We imagine that a platform is for other people, not for us, because we haven’t been picked. It turns out that in this new fluid economy, waiting isn’t going to be a particularly productive plan. [end quote]

To take this to heart, some of my recent creative attempts are included.

Badlands in Petrified Forest National Park from the Nizhoni Point overlook

Badlands in Petrified Forest National Park from the Nizhoni Point overlook. Filtered with “find edges”.

Badlands taken from Blue Mesa overlook in Petrified Forest National Park

Badlands taken from Blue Mesa overlook in Petrified Forest National Park and modified with finding edges filter.

2 thoughts on “Kamiwaza

  1. Thank you so much! I had read Seth’s blog this morning and was stuck on the meaning of kamiwaza also. When I Googled it I could find a definitive result. With the explanation you provide this blogs resonates even more for me than I had originally thought.
    Cool pics!

  2. Kris – thanks for your comment. I knew there was at least one other person who could benefit from Godin’s insights. Now you need to act on it!

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