Ganbatte 頑張って, or Chibariyo チバリヨー! 

For centuries, in Japan and the Ryukyu Kingdom (modern-day Okinawa), an inspiring encouragement to do your best has been echoed: “Ganbatte Kudasai” or “Chibariyo”. But what does it mean to strive for excellence? To rise above mediocrity – striving towards our utmost potential by pushing ourselves further than we ever thought possible; this is what doing one’s best truly means.

Striving for excellence, our goal requires more than just putting forth effort – it necessitates a commitment to personal growth and exploration. By pushing ourselves to be better, we can ensure the quality of our work is consistently high while also remaining open-minded enough for new ideas that may take us even further.

The magic words, Osu and Hai.

押 to push 忍 to endure are Japanese kanji characters that manifest Osu, meaning “push or strive”. It symbolizes the combat spirit, the importance of effort and the necessity to overcome all obstacles, push them aside and advance with a steady positive attitude.

Osu is a powerful expression of commitment and tenacity, originally developed in the Officers Academy of Imperial Japan’s Navy. In addition to its military history, it was seen among Bushi warriors from the Saga Clan during the 18th century. On Okinawa this usage proved unpopular due to associations with mainland oppression. Regardless, osu speaks volumes about those who use it; an enduring testament to strength and dedication that resonates even today. It should be noted that the word Hai… delivers the same meaning and feeling, when delivered in a spirited manner.

Affirmations and sacred words encompass the ancient Japanese belief of Kotodama, which draws on spiritual energy held within language. Beyond dictionary definitions, Osu and Hai express power through their sounds as incantations to manifest positive change. By practicing affirmations regularly we can tap into our reward system in the brain—tooling up with confidence-building capability that enables us to take charge of difficult life situations with newfound self-empowerment.

With a few simple words, you can inspire and motivate others. Demonstrate your encouragement with Gambatte or Chibariyo to encourage people on their path; not only will they feel bolstered in their pursuits, but so too will you when an emphatic Osu! or Hai! is returned.