The ‘Daily Misogi’: PREPARE First, Take ACTION! Second

Skip Freeman


Skip Freeman

If you are anticipating being laid off, or have actually lost your job, you are quite likely to have a very strong temptation to take ACTION! This is very understandable and a very human reaction under the circumstances. You want to pick up the phone and call a recruiter, contact people in your social and professional networks. You want to hit the job boards and start sending out resumes by the dozens, if not the hundreds! You’ve got to get something going, and you’ve got to do it NOW!

STOP! It is criticial that you take the time to collect your thoughts, to get adquately prepared and to formulate your plans. Rushing around helter-skelter without first preparing your mind and your spirit and your plan is unlikely to be very productive for you. Let me suggest a method for accomplishing this goal, the daily Misogi.

The Daily Misogi 

The Daily Misogi . . . no, it’s not some kind of Japanese soup. Rather, it’s an ancient Japanese cleansing ritual involving preparation of the mind and spirit for each new day. It’s a ritual that can serve you well in preparing for your daily job search activities.

The majority of us start each day with at least some general plan regarding the activities that we would like (or have) to undertake. But most of us don’t fully prepare our minds and spirits for the day.

Oh, some of us may start our day with prayer, reading a holy book, or even by going to a religious service. But how many of us really ever stop to think deeply and quietly about the issues of the day ahead and make a definite plan of activities?

Misogi as Practiced by the Samurai

My professional mentor and coach, Pat Scopelliti, taught me that ancient Samurai warriors, who were practitioners of Misogi, would get up before dawn every day, sit cross-legged and sharpen their swords, often for a couple of hours. Did their swords really need to be sharpened for two hours? Of course not! While it may have appeared to the casual observer that the warriors were merely sharpening their swords, actually, they were really “sharpening” their minds.

The reality of each new day for a Samurai was that, potentially at least, he lived in a “kill or be killed” world. He would therefore visualize the day ahead, and analyze the results of previous battles. He would visualize victory. He would do “success/failure” analysis. What must he do to replicate past successes? What had he learned from past failures?

Applying Misogi to your job hunt

Preparing for the “job hunt” each day requires this same kind of intense, daily preparation of the mind and spirit. And once you find your next position (or even if you are currently employed), you would do well to continue such daily preparation.

Before the start of each new day’s activities, you should quietly and deeply reflect upon and then set “drop dead” targets and/or goals, i.e., those things that you positively, absolutely must accomplish, as a minimum, for the day. Equally importantly, you should also quietly and deeply reflect upon the targets and/or goals you set for the previous day.

Ask yourself, “What successes did I achieve?” “How do I replicate those again?” “What failures occurred?” “How do I learn from those failures?”

There are two types of failure: Honorable and dishonorable.

Honorable failure means that you didn’t achieve your objective(s) for that day. However, you analyzed the failure(s), discerned lessons, applied them and simply collapsed on “the battlefield,” exhausted, having failed, but still knowing that you didn’t “surrender.”

Dishonorable failure means one of two things. Either you didn’t learn from your failures or you simply surrendered (quit) before completing the task(s) (“drop dead” minimums) that you had set.

How I practice Misogi

Here is how I practice Misogi. When I get up in the morning it is still dark. The coffee has automatically brewed. I savor the aroma. I stumble downstairs and pour a large cup, groggily make my way back upstairs and turn on the shower as hot as I can stand it. I get in the shower, sit down with my legs crossed, let the hot water flow on my neck and back, and I slowly sip the coffee. (Taking care not to let water from the shower get into my cup, of course!) I am still groggy and sleepy. I let my mind wander. I think of the known issues of the day ahead. I think of the successes and failures of the past day.

After sitting in the shower for about twenty minutes, suddenly the synapses in my brain start firing rapidly, “dots” are instantly “connected.” Ideas surface that I hadn’t previously thought of. Solutions to persistent problems seemingly occur out of nowhere. My mind and my spirit are on full steam ahead by the time I exit the shower.

None of these things would likely have happened had I merely jumped out of bed, hopped in for a quick shower, dressed, grabbed a cup of coffee and made a mad dash to get out the door and head for my office. For what? So I could quickly fire up my computer and check my email, taking the day largely as it unfolded? Or, another way of putting it: I would be letting the day seize me rather than my seizing the day!

This isn’t magic, of course, or any kind of strange “voodoo,” but it has proven to work remarkably well, time and time again for me, and it can also work for you, although it wasn’t until just the last couple of years that I learned that the practice (now a habit!) actually had a name—Misogi. (Some “purists” may debate me on this and say that I am not actually doing a Misogi. But again, the point is not what we call it. The point is that we do something each day to prepare our mind and spirit for the day ahead!)

Remember: Misogi—a Whole New Way of Preparing for the Day

Again, Misogi is different from praying, reading a holy book or a “how-to” or motivational book. This is a practice of intensely focusing on the day ahead and the specific tasks that must be accomplished, in light of both the successes and failures of the previous day, in order to develop creative solutions.

So, whether you do what I do or get coffee and just go sit in a swing or rocking chair on the porch, find a way to spend about twenty minutes waking up slowly, keeping your eyes closed and truly, thoroughly contemplating the day ahead. Consider some “hard” questions/issues such as these:

  • What interviews do I have today?
  • If I don’t have any interviews, what must I do to start getting them?
  • How do I best follow up on the ones I have had?
  • How do I identify new companies and hiring managers to contact?
  • What can I do today that is unique versus the other “job hunters” out there, so that I will be perceived as adding value to a potential employer?

This is how I have uncovered the secrets for hiring: I would ask myself questions such as, “Why didn’t the candidate we represented get the job?” Or, “Why was the offer so low?” “What happened to enable the offer to be so high?”—higher, actually, than any of us imagined? By letting the brain ponder such things in solitude and quietness, solutions and answers come together that you probably would never think about otherwise.

The power of the human spirit, coupled with the human brain, is boundless. Overlay that with knowledge and you are ready to begin your job search!


Skip Freeman, author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever!, has successfully completed more than 300 executive search assignments in just seven years. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals in industry, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.

A distinguished graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, he is a lifelong student of leadership, people and the principles of success. While serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chemical Corps, he also earned a Master of Science degree in Organic Chemistry from The Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration degree in Marketing from Long Island University.

 Visit or contact Skip at his book website,

Comments (7)

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  1. Well I definitely liked reading it. This tip provided by you is very helpful for good planning.

  2. maryo says:

    love the way u put the problem, the spot on the i!

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  4. maria andros says:

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  6. Daniel says:

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