The Making of Ronin (Case Study: Ronin #2)


When I was first told about Ronin training I asked a few questions and the discussions went on until it was finalized. I would have to join the trade show for about six months to complete the training. In my case, furniture trade show was chosen because furniture has very difficult people both on the trade show and the customer sides. The basic idea is one has to get all the stuff, pack them, load them and fly to the destination for only a few days. Then everything has to be unpacked, set up and the work itself takes all hours of day and night. When the show is finished, some packing is done and on to the next show. Attending the show pays enough to qualify as more than an okay job but the trainers are also paid by the firm that sends staff for training. It works well for all parties except it is hard, long and thankless for the trainee. One of the basic requirement for going on trade show training is the height of the person. The person must be at least 6 feet tall. The spirit of training is that of handling conflicts which imply physical also. If training was done in another country, the height would be different but in US the minimum height is about 6 feet. I am 5′ 7″ but was told I can go because I have plenty of hard business experience. Shorter height makes the training much harder but if the person can handle the extra pressure so be it. The point is the challenge is not any less but is more. The only problem was nobody is sure if I need the training or not. The actual training develops a mindset which a person with extensive business experience may or may not already have.

The thankless job of being part of the trade show circuit forces an average person (with potential hopefully) to have a very hard time until no hard time count. This person has to get up everyday and dress for work in a strange hotel in a strange city where he and other unfriendliness stay for only a few days. Everyone and everything is strange. People get used to the familiar but the mind endures stress dealing with what is out of ordinary. The trade show travel requires appearing in a new location each time and the daily routine is new for each location. The routine is a big part of the training because things always go wrong. Something is left behind. Something does not work. Something breaks. And all other ways that things can go wrong and will. When a person does something in the same location the same way, a routine is developed and work follows habit and less stress. We tend to switch to an auto mode. Trade show training results in never working in the auto mode. The mind is fighting every second and minute because something can be wrong or go wrong. Once things are set up and the show is on, the person has to deal with customers and others. The very important point is competition is too big. One is in a strange location of a strange city and strange people who do not care, are waste of time, are rude and so on everywhere. The training requires long long hours of day and night dealing with them. This process wears the person down and is part of the Ronin training. Once the person is very stressed and tired, the mind switches to a different mode and that is the objective of all this travel and show activities. The trainee has to arrive at the stage where one is so tired that everything that makes one an ordinary person leave the mind. He is not now tired, angry, tense, worn out and the only thing left is one’s emotions. One has to function by using emotion as a resource.

Ronin or the stray dog are wanderers. They constantly move around from one strange place to another strange place. They hardly find peace because every minute of the day and night is a challenge for survival. They have to endure the stress because the alternative is death. They stay in this state of mind for so long they don’t have to leave. They are able to think by feeling what is like to be tired, worn out, desperate, miserable and having to go on. The emotion makes the mind work and work very well. They don’t have to think or feel, they just do things by instinct. The trainee has to reach this state of mind. One does not live in a civilized city any more and is not supported by the comforts and certainties of the modern world. The trainee is in the no-man’s land. He is in the middle of nowhere and everything is strange and unfriendly. He could leave and go to where life is peaceful and certain but nothing happens there. The real world could be any place in the world and what happens there can be anything. One has to go there and face what is there to get what is possible. The worst thing that can happen is by that time one is so tired, worn out, miserable and desperate this person does not care about anything in the world as one was once brought up to care. This person functions on emotion and can move mountains. The ability to think rationally has left him temporarily because the mind functions on emotion and tackles the hardest things without understanding how hard they really are. The emotional mind does not understand things as rational mind does. The rational mind at this point has been drained of all juice and the mind has switched to the only resource left which is the emotional mind.

The basic process of the training is that simple. The person has to become so tired and drained that no alternative exists but to go on and in order to keep going one has to get strength from some resource and emotion is what is left. A person possessed by emotional mind is very strong and able and can do unbelievable feats compared to a person that has to think and rationalize to do things. At this stage, all the previous life training, which applies in normal life but not in the real world, has been erased temporarily. The longer the person stays possessed of the emotional mind, the longer the person is able to function this way. That is the mindset of Ronin. It requires practice until one stay there permanently and function hundreds of times better than the rest. The tradeshow training forces the person to leave one’s life and thinking and enter this realm of thought. One has to be drained daily by long hours, labor, abuse and stress until one either quits or keeps going and begins to use emotion as a resource. The longer one stays in the state of functioning by emotional mind, the longer one can do it and eventually becomes a permanent state. The big problem is the process of reaching this state is difficult because the rational mind interferes regardless. The rational mind has to be shut off by draining the body (brain is a muscle) of all energy and strength. At that point, the body uses whatever resources available to SURVIVE.

The big question in my case was whether I need to undergo six months of trade show training because the overwhelming opinion was I have developed the Ronin ability through my work experience in retail and restaurants. I pass on many scales but still not 100% clear pass because I have never roamed. Ronin is a wanderer and so is the stray dog. They go from place to place to place. The opportunities are in new places because they are recognized in a place they have been to. The trade show training requires roaming. This roaming is integral to developing the abilities of Ronin by the enormous hardship that is caused by doing business from place to place. Too many things will go wrong each time one sets up in one location, does the work or waits endlessly for many long and abusive hours, and then packs to go to another place. One can develop the ability to reach the emotional mind as a resource as I have by working too many long and thankless hours (or waiting too many long and thankless hours) but one cannot quite stay in that mindset by sheer will. That is the big thing about trade show training. Roaming is a very big part of the training. I was given the option to find something really disappointing to do. A basic routine is whatever one can do where one is told ‘no’ too many times for business. A person can go job searching or canvassing for new business but in my case they probably would not work because people would be nice. The idea is to drain the body of energy and still keep going which does not happen around friendly people. A last option was to go back to retail.

I hate retail and think my retail job was the worst job that I ever had. That qualified as a good choice for this training. Retail involves waiting around for too many hours endlessly or working non-stop forever with no end in sight until one is drained. If this person has to drop the wait-all-day or non-stop work after a few hours and go to another job which does the same the body will reach the drained state. That was the decision that was made. I have to work retail but have to find another thankless job (bartending?) to follow the retail hours. The effect of draining the body would work but I still would face much repetition in my daily routines and stress would disappear. Roaming is the solution to take out the certainty and comfort from the routine. The solution for that is I have to attend all possible events that relate to me. The two jobs will drain me of all energy and I land in the realm of the emotional mind which I have been to plenty before but never stayed long enough. The process of fitting outside events of all kinds into my schedule would mean uncertainty. I would have to beat all odds to reach some location at some time to do something (most of which are waste of time by my standards). Things always go wrong and even if they don’t the mind is stressed of dealing with all of them and in a tired body the mind stays in the emotional mindset which is the survival mode.

I have started on the retail job and goes well and will probably work more hours as my training brings me up to speed with my old level of experience and performance. Retail can be a lot of fun however. When I first started it was noted I have a great time at work and I was told in the actual trade show training the cure would be to slap me around a few times until I wouldn’t have a good time. In my case, I am told to watch the news in the morning (I don’t watch TV) because it is always bad and am certain not to have a good day after being screwed up by the news program. That is the proper mindset for a wandering Ronin. I have no doubt I will annex my schedule with a bartending schedule though I doubt that will get to me. I can handle both and won’t bother me but the going from place to place will make me nuts. Two schedules (and my blog writing qualifies as a part-time job itself) are too much already and I have to make sure I go places before, between and after the jobs. I have to hit the trade tasting, visit competition, attend city events and most of all volunteer. Volunteering will be the closet thing to trade show training. It doesn’t help that almost every person is nice and friendly and good in all of these places. A very tired, drained, overworked person functions like a machine. I have been there too many times. Every second counts and has to be taken care until some peace is found when eating, resting or not going crazy. That is a state of mind that exists and some reach. One functions so much better for business purposes because business is the realm of action. A person in the emotional mindset is very much into action rather than sticking around. Emotional mind makes one step outside of himself/herself. One simply does not care for one’s upbringing and socialization. The mind is very focused and has no trouble walking, talking and so on but do all in the present tense. This state of mind is what Ronin training is about. I am in the process of experiencing it to make up for deficiencies of my past learning. If it does not work out, trade show floor is where I will have to go.

*This post belongs to this week’s edition of Wine by Cush Magazine blog and published early in World of Cush also.

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