You probably came here because you were curious about the meaning of "Gambarimashoo!", which is my email signature. I frequently get asked about it, and so I thought I'd set up a small web site explaining it - and of course showing how to write the word in Japanese.

The word "ganbaru" means "to try hard", "to do one's best". Instead of wishing you "good luck", Japanese people will encourage each other by saying "gambatte kudassai!", literally meaning "do your best!" or - translated more freely - "go get 'em". I prefer the Japanese term, because "luck" is something you usually have not much influence on. As to the pronounciation: the middle "n" ist pronounced somewhere between an "n" and an "m". And the proper answer is "thank you", not "Gesundheit!".

The suffix "-mashoo" adds the meaning of "let's...". This is a concept I found quite comforting, to try together to cope with something. It reflects a Japanese way of thinking (or possibly just my illusion of an understanding of Japanese thinking), were it is not so important how well one single individual performs in comparison to how much the individual contributed to the performance of the whole group and how well the group worked together. This is, of course, not the view of all Japanese people; in fact, quite a few times I got comments about not wanting to hear that damn gambarimashoo again...ever.

In the western world, there often is sort of a struggle to achieve distinction, to be "different" from others (and, of course, appear "better" in the eyes of the boss). The problem with that may be that quite often a lot of effort gets lost in that struggle for being or even just appearing to be "the best", instead of trying to solve a task together. What I believe to be even worse is that people in competitive environments like in those "up-or-out-companies" allegedly employing only "the best of the best of the best" or under tight deadlines and severe financial constraints quite often start fighting internally against each other instead of working together, towards a common goal or solution - thus literally causing numerous "casualties" and a lot of destruction on their way to something I would not call "success" any more.

I found that especially highly gifted people frequently may get hurt in the process because they often try to work on "the thing" itself instead of dealing with the politics of a project.

My personal view is that most achievements in human history were not obtained following Darwin's principle of the survival-of-the-fittest, but by using our ability to band communicate and to cooperate. Examples of what can be done together are of course the Internet, the free encyclopedia Wikipedia, the infrastructure of cities like Tokyo and any functional family. Science - which is the word I would use to roughly describe my current occupation - rarely yields useful results when being carried out by a single individual. The time for the solitary genius has gone forever. Well, mostly.

To express it in a stronger way: I do not think we are just being nice to others because we just want to be nice without reason, but because being nice yields better resultsfor us all in the long run than trying to strike that best single deal for yourself by aggressively pushing others, reducing their share of the deal as much as possible. In other words: it may be a huge evolutionary advantage to be nice to others, and that could be the reason why we see this behaviour. It may yet be the most efficient way to achieve positive results, and I strongly believe the true egotist is a very social person, because that is how you get the most from others. There is nothing wrong with that, since others get more that way, too. At times, it may very well be the only way to take the next step. One tiger will almost always be able to kill a single human. But 20 tigers don't even need to face 20 humans, as they will feast on each other first. This may also be the solution against those who think they can bully others. Once identified, the antisocial person fails.

So, to conclude this not-so-short philosophical brainstorming, by using the signature, I want to express an idealistic wish for true team work. I know this often is not possible, but if we try, I'm quite sure we can make it. Okay: sometimes. Since you got this link, you probably are someone who already knows my way of thinking and you know that you may take this excursion with a grain of salt and a smile. Here it is: :-)

By the way: if you want to have the image of the word in a resolution suitable for printing, just click on the picture above. Feel free to use - I won't charge for it.

Gambatte kudassai. And find your own path.