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Sunday, February 06, 2011


The Shibumi Strategy by Matthew E, May - Book review

The Shibumi Strategy

A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change

By: Matthew E. May

Published: November 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 176 pages
ISBN-10: 0470769505
ISBN-13: 978-0470769508
Publisher: Jossey-Bass

"There are times in life when if fortunate we experience a moment of utter clarity", writes renowned thought leader and speaker on innovation strategy, design thinking, and corporate creativity.Matthew E. May in his delightful and idea packed business fable The Shibumi Strategy: A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change. The author creates the moving and inspirational tale of Andy Harmon, who faced with a life altering career challenge, must discover deep within himself the breakthrough necessary to achieve success.

Matthew May shares the story of how Andy seeks guidance and advice in what are seemingly the most unusual of sources. The life lessons arrive in the form of personal Zen, which reveal deep truths about himself and the world around him. Faced with a devastating job loss, Andy finds himself confronted with the daunting challenge of selling used cars. With an unpaid month to prove his his sales ability, Andy struggles with the setback and its impact on his life. What Andy discovers, over the course of the parable, is that the most difficult obstacles and set backs are the most likely to result in that epiphany of clarity. For Andy, that moment is when he discovers shibumi, and realizes its importance to his own life.

Matthew E. May (photo left) presents the shibumi strategy as graceful effectiveness, elegant in its simplicity, and scaling the peaks of personal excellence. Through clarity, balance, and a connectedness to work, other people, and to the entire world, shibumi creates a feeling of oneness that is both realized and part of a greater whole. There is a sense of paradox about the nature of shibumi as well. When effort seems to be at its lowest point, effectiveness reaches an unprecedented zenith. These shibumi moments must be recognized when they occur, and the narrative of the story follows the essential elements of shibumi toward those critical moments. Those aspects of shibumi are:

* Commitment
* Preparation
* Struggle
* Breakthrough
* Transformation

For me, the power of the book is how Matthew May offers the deeply profound and ancient wisdom of the shibumi strategy in a thoroughly modern context. The author, through the vehicle of a business parable, sets the principles of shibumi in an understandable and recognizable context, that engages the reader. The story, while simple on the surface, contains many layers of ideas and nuances that reveal themselves more fully with each additional reading. To combine effectively the often esoteric concepts of Eastern philosophy, with the latest Western discoveries in neuroscience, presents the author's own clarity of thought and mind as well. The core value of the book is letting go of preconceived ideas, and both the narrative and the author's own style, utilize that principle very well.

Matthew May not only presents the story of personal leadership resulting in a moment of clarity, and the ensuing breakthrough. An important part of the book is placed at the very end of the business fable. This addition describes the steps necessary, and the process of personal change that takes place, in each of the five shibumi states of being. The principles, as presented in the story can then be applied to one's own life and individual circumstances. Since everyone has times in their lives of upheaval and difficult challenges, this book offers an effective and deeply personal solution to finding a breakthrough and transformation. In these difficult times, this book is a necessary and essential addition to any personal development and leadership library.

I highly recommend the valuable and fascinating business parable The Shibumi Strategy: A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change by Matthew E. May, to anyone who is facing challenges and setbacks in their lives. The application of Eastern wisdom to overcoming your personal and business obstacles provides a fresh approach that can yield substantial breakthroughs and clarity.

Read the wonderful and powerful business fable The Shibumi Strategy: A Powerful Way to Create Meaningful Change by Matthew E. May, and put the clear thinking of the shibumi principle to work in your life and business. The transformation will be deep, rich, and ultimately life changing and empowering.

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