5 years, 8 months, and 14 days. Believe in something greater than yourself.

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Despite its provocative title, Crazy Rich Asians willfully relegates money to the corner while crowds in tuxedos, Marchesa gowns, and million-dollar earrings look away to instead focus on abstract debates of “Chineseness.” Aphorisms are declared throughout with the purpose of introducing rudimentary Chinese and American cultural differences. Unlike Americans, who follow their “passions” and selfishly pursue their “own happiness”, Eleanor—with cold, weary eyes—states that “we” put “family” first, and “understand how to build things that last.” Regardless of its basis in reality, this age-old positioning of an individualistic American dream as opposite to a Chinese nightmare of constant sacrifice—the phrase “filial piety” is uttered derisively at least once—for the greater good is an American projection that frames the United States as innately free. By presenting this as an irreconcilable division, Crazy Rich Asians erases the fact that U.S. institutions likewise demand sacrifice with the promise of future success, a structure that echoes the Christian notion of an afterlife rewarded to those who suffer.

https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/review-living-in-a-material-world-jon-m-chu-s-crazy-rich-asians

 

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

As with everyone else, Ms. L. and I loved Crazy Rich Asians.  Although not without flaws, CRA is a smart movie, filled with interesting characters who struggled about the meaning of life and that age-old question of whether our first duty is to ourselves or others (namely our families).

Consider, for example, the directive on airplanes to take care of ourselves before taking care of our loved ones.  As you know, pre-take-off procedures require air attendants to inform passengers that should cabin pressure drops, gas masks will drop and passengers are to don masks on themselves first before helping their children and loved ones.  This directive is totally logical (how could we help others if we were to become incapacitated ourselves), but I suspect the reality is that most mindful and doting parents would willingly inconvenience themselves while they help put the masks on their children and loved ones first.  I know I would put the masks on you guys before putting it on myself.

But, the reality, at its core, is there is no conflict here.  Parents live for their children, to ensure their children have a bright future, etc.  That is our primary and overarching duty.  We are supposed to put your needs before ours, to go without while giving you the last morsel of food, to endure the cold while wrapping you in the only blanket available, to tread water while securing you safely to the life ring, etc.  Being in an airplane doesn’t change our overriding duty to care for you first and foremost.

Sometimes we, as a society, create false dichotomies where none exists.  With respect to the quoted language above from CRA, we should be cognizant that at its core, our families ultimately want what is best for us: happiness, health, and financial and personal security.  Whether they agree or disagree with our choices about what makes us happy or about whether something would afford us the financial and personal security we deserve does not present an adverse interest: they want the same thing for us as we do, only they disagree with our choices and methods.  Sometimes, their, or our, personal insecurities and fears may animate poor choices, but those poor choices do not negate the underlying love we have for one another.  Despite their weaknesses and frailties, they want what’s best for us as we do.  To borrow a phrase from Twilight, “There is no conflict here.”

The preceding statement is true if, and only if, that the parents believe there is more to his or her life than his or her survival.  In other words, the statement that “there is no conflict” is true only if the parents in question believe in something greater than him- or herself, e.g., the safety of his children, the importance of carrying on the family line, the need for the perpetuation of the human species, etc.

Thus, the underlying message here — the meaning of life — is that we must believe is something greater than ourselves and our momentary pleasures.  This is true whether we are talking about Asian traditions or Christian beliefs.  With rare exceptions (as in psychopaths), American parents, for example, ache no less than Asian parents at the loss of their child, at the sight of their children suffering immense pain, etc.  Self-sacrifice is part of what it means to be human.  (Apparently, lesser creatures on God’s Earth also exhibit the trait of self-sacrifice.  https://www.nytimes.com/1988/07/05/science/some-thoughts-on-self-sacrifice.html.)

Assuming we are willing to consider the needs of others before ours, conflicts may still arise because we humans are susceptible to having lapses in judgements.  Passion and lust often have a way of overcoming our senses and our better judgements.  Thus, in the throws of passion, it is often best to step back and think objectively about things.  However, that is easier said than done under those circumstances; thus, it is best at this point to seek the wise counsel of those who love us most and know us best … our family members.  Here, their dispassionate eyes serve as useful tools for us to more clearly see things as they are instead of how we wish them to be under rose-colored lenses of love/passion/lust.

It is also best under these circumstances … under most circumstances, for that matter … to be mindful of the long-term consequences of our decisions and the ripple effects of those decisions.  As mentioned previously in other posts, your cousin A, on your mother’s side, closed himself off to the familial advice to avoid running with the bad crowd.  Regardless of whether he hung out with them because they were fun and exciting or because he had no one else to hang out with, the reality is one or more or all of them was/were engaged in drug trafficking, and they were all arrested and burdened with felony convictions.   His life is now ruined and the trajectory of his life is forever and irrevocably altered.  Their family is also shamed for having a felon within their rank.  (But, as the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.)

When I was growing up, we were given many strictures — stay away from bad elements, be self-disciplined, be loyal to those who have helped you, and PROTECT THE FAMILY NAME.  Being mindful of the last directive helped me avoid numerous problems.  I’d give thought to how it would affect the family if it were discovered that I got caught doing so and so — untoward and unseemly things, not necessarily arising to the level of illegality.  (The equivalent Christian approach would be to ask, “What would Jesus do?”)

In other words, I believed in something greater than myself, and that made all the difference.  It wasn’t all about me.

Today, I still live by that code.  It’s not about me.  It’s about you.  It’s about leaving a legacy for you.  It’s about those around me and how to help make their lives better, our community better, etc.

As I’ve stated previously, we, as human animals, are insatiable black holes. There can never be enough to please us.  We always more, better, and different.

Remember the story of the fisherman and the magic fish.  (See below.)  Be wise. Use your head.  Let your heart guide you, but know that she may lead you astray as she can be tunnel-visioned at times.  Use your head always.  Be wise.

All my love, always,

Dad

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The Fisherman and His Wife

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Once upon a time there were a fisherman and his wife who lived together in a filthy shack near the sea. Every day the fisherman went out fishing, and he fished, and he fished. Once he was sitting there fishing and looking into the clear water, and he sat, and he sat. Then his hook went to the bottom, deep down, and when he pulled it out, he had caught a large flounder.

Then the flounder said to him, “Listen, fisherman, I beg you to let me live. I am not an ordinary flounder, but an enchanted prince. How will it help you to kill me? I would not taste good to you. Put me back into the water, and let me swim.”

“Well,” said the man, “there’s no need to say more. I can certainly let a fish swim away who knows how to talk.”

With that he put it back into the clear water, and the flounder disappeared to the bottom, leaving a long trail of blood behind him.

Then the fisherman got up and went home to his wife in the filthy shack.

“Husband,” said the woman, “didn’t you catch anything today?”

“No,” said the man. “I caught a flounder, but he told me that he was an enchanted prince, so I let him swim away.”

“Didn’t you ask for anything first?” said the woman.

“No,” said the man. “What should I have asked for?”

“Oh,” said the woman. “It is terrible living in this shack. It stinks and is filthy. You should have asked for a little cottage for us. Go back and call him. Tell him that we want to have a little cottage. He will surely give it to us.”

“Oh,” said the man. “Why should I go back there?”

“Look,” said the woman, “you did catch him, and then you let him swim away. He will surely do this for us. Go right now.”

The man did not want to go, but neither did he want to oppose his wife, so he went back to the sea.

When he arrived there it was no longer clear, but yellow and green. He stood there and said:

Mandje! Mandje! Timpe Te!
Flounder, flounder, in the sea!
My wife, my wife Ilsebill,
Wants not, wants not, what I will

The flounder swam up and said, “What does she want then?”

“Oh,” said the man, “I did catch you, and now my wife says that I really should have asked for something. She doesn’t want to live in a filthy shack any longer. She would like to have a cottage.”

“Go home,” said the flounder. “She already has it.”

The man went home, and his wife was standing in the door of a cottage, and she said to him, “Come in. See, now isn’t this much better?”

There was a little front yard, and a beautiful little parlor, and a bedroom where their bed was standing, and a kitchen, and a dining room. Everything was beautifully furnished and supplied with tin and brass utensils, just as it should be. And outside there was a little yard with chickens and ducks and a garden with vegetables and fruit.

“Look,” said the woman. “Isn’t this nice?”

“Yes,” said the man. “This is quite enough. We can live here very well.”

“We will think about that,” said the woman.

Then they ate something and went to bed.

Everything went well for a week or two, and then the woman said, “Listen, husband. This cottage is too small. The yard and the garden are too little. The flounder could have given us a larger house. I would like to live in a large stone palace. Go back to the flounder and tell him to give us a palace.”

“Oh, wife,” said the man, “the cottage is good enough. Why would we want to live in a palace?”

“I know why,” said the woman. “Now you just go. The flounder can do that.”

“Now, wife, the flounder has just given us the cottage. I don’t want to go back so soon. It may make the flounder angry.”

“Just go,” said the woman. “He can do it, and he won’t mind doing it. Just go.”

The man’s heart was heavy, and he did not want to go. He said to himself, “This is not right,” but he went anyway.

When he arrived at the sea the water was purple and dark blue and gray and dense, and no longer green and yellow. He stood there and said:

Mandje! Mandje! Timpe Te!
Flounder, flounder, in the sea!
My wife, my wife Ilsebill,
Wants not, wants not, what I will

“What does she want then?” said the flounder.

“Oh,” said the man sadly, “my wife wants to live in a stone palace.”

“Go home. She’s already standing before the door,” said the flounder.

Then the man went his way, thinking he was going home, but when he arrived, standing there was a large stone palace. His wife was standing on the stairway, about to enter.

Taking him by the hand, she said, “Come inside.”

He went inside with her. Inside the palace there was a large front hallway with a marble floor. Numerous servants opened up the large doors for them. The walls were all white and covered with beautiful tapestry. In the rooms there were chairs and tables of pure gold. Crystal chandeliers hung from the ceilings. The rooms and chambers all had carpets. Food and the very best wine overloaded the tables until they almost collapsed. Outside the house there was a large courtyard with the very best carriages and stalls for horses and cows. Furthermore there was a magnificent garden with the most beautiful flowers and fine fruit trees and a pleasure forest a good half mile long, with elk and deer and hares and everything that anyone could possibly want.

“Now,” said the woman, “isn’t this nice?”

“Oh, yes” said the man. “This is quite enough. We can live in this beautiful palace and be satisfied.”

“We’ll think about it,” said the woman. “Let’s sleep on it.” And with that they went to bed.

The next morning the woman woke up first. It was just daylight, and from her bed she could see the magnificent landscape before her. Her husband was just starting to stir when she poked him in the side with her elbow and said, “Husband, get up and look out the window. Look, couldn’t we be king over all this land?”

“Oh, wife,” said the man, “why would we want to be king? I don’t want to be king.”

“Well,” said the woman, “even if you don’t want to be king, I want to be king.”

“Oh, wife,” said the man, “why do you want to be king? I don’t want to tell him that.”

“Why not?” said the woman, “Go there immediately. I must be king.”

So the man, saddened because his wife wanted to be king, went back.

“This is not right, not right at all,” thought the man. He did not want to go, but he went anyway.

When he arrived at the sea it was dark gray, and the water heaved up from below and had a foul smell. He stood there and said:

Mandje! Mandje! Timpe Te!
Flounder, flounder, in the sea!
My wife, my wife Ilsebill,
Wants not, wants not, what I will

“What does she want then,” said the flounder.

“Oh,” said the man, “she wants to be king.”

“Go home. She is already king,” said the flounder.

Then the man went home, and when he arrived there, the palace had become much larger, with a tall tower and magnificent decorations. Sentries stood outside the door, and there were so many soldiers, and drums, and trumpets. When he went inside everything was of pure marble and gold with velvet covers and large golden tassels. Then the doors to the great hall opened up, and there was the entire court. His wife was sitting on a high throne of gold and diamonds. She was wearing a large golden crown, and in her hand was a scepter of pure gold and precious stones. On either side of her there stood a line of maids-in-waiting, each one a head shorter than the other.

“Oh, wife, are you now king?”

“Yes,” she said, “now I am king.”

He stood and looked at her, and after thus looking at her for a while he said, “Wife, it is very nice that you are king. Now we don’t have to wish for anything else.”

“No, husband,” she said, becoming restless. “Time is on my hands. I cannot stand it any longer. Go to the flounder. I am king, but now I must become emperor.”

“Oh, wife” said the man, “Why do you want to become emperor?”

“Husband,” she said, “go to the flounder. I want to be emperor.”

“Oh, wife,” said the man, “he cannot make you emperor. I cannot tell the flounder to do that. There is only one emperor in the realm. The flounder cannot make you emperor. He cannot do that.”

“What!” said the woman. “I am king, and you are my husband. Are you going? Go there immediately. If he can make me king then he can make me emperor. I want to be and have to be emperor. Go there immediately.”

So he had to go. As he went on his way the frightened man thought to himself, “This is not going to end well. To ask to be emperor is shameful. The flounder is going to get tired of this.”

With that he arrived at the sea. The water was all black and dense and boiling up from within. A strong wind blew over him that curdled the water. He stood there and said:

Mandje! Mandje! Timpe Te!
Flounder, flounder, in the sea!
My wife, my wife Ilsebill,
Wants not, wants not, what I will

“What does she want then?” said the flounder.

“Oh, flounder,” he said, “my wife wants to become emperor.”

“Go home,” said the flounder. “She is already emperor.”

Then the man went home, and when he arrived there, the entire palace was made of polished marble with alabaster statues and golden decoration. Soldiers were marching outside the gate, blowing trumpets and beating tympani and drums. Inside the house, barons and counts and dukes were walking around like servants. They opened the doors for him, which were made of pure gold. He went inside where his wife was sitting on a throne made of one piece of gold a good two miles high, and she was wearing a large golden crown that was three yards high, all set with diamonds and carbuncles. In the one hand she had a scepter, and in the other the imperial orb. Bodyguards were standing in two rows at her sides: each one smaller than the other, beginning with the largest giant and ending with the littlest dwarf, who was no larger than my little finger. Many princes and dukes were standing in front of her.

The man went and stood among them and said, “Wife, are you emperor now?”

“Yes,” she said, “I am emperor.”

He stood and looked at her, and after thus looking at her for a while, he said, “Wife, it is very nice that you are emperor.”

“Husband,” she said. “Why are you standing there? Now that I am emperor, and I want to become pope.”

“Oh, wife!” said the man. “What do you not want? There is only one pope in all Christendom. He cannot make you pope.”

“Husband,” she said, “I want to become pope. Go there immediately. I must become pope this very day.”

“No, wife,” he said, “I cannot tell him that. It will come to no good. That is too much. The flounder cannot make you pope.”

“Husband, what nonsense!” said the woman. “If he can make me emperor, then he can make me pope as well. Go there immediately. I am emperor, and you are my husband. Are you going?”

Then the frightened man went. He felt sick all over, and his knees and legs were shaking, and the wind was blowing over the land, and clouds flew by as the darkness of evening fell. Leaves blew from the trees, and the water roared and boiled as it crashed onto the shore. In the distance he could see ships, shooting distress signals as they tossed and turned on the waves. There was a little blue in the middle of the sky, but on all sides it had turned red, as in a terrible lightning storm. Full of despair he stood there and said:

Mandje! Mandje! Timpe Te!
Flounder, flounder, in the sea!
My wife, my wife Ilsebill,
Wants not, wants not, what I will

“What does she want then?” said the flounder.

“Oh,” said the man, “she wants to become pope.”

“Go home,” said the flounder. “She is already pope.”

Then he went home, and when he arrived there, there was a large church surrounded by nothing but palaces. He forced his way through the crowd. Inside everything was illuminated with thousands and thousands of lights, and his wife was clothed in pure gold and sitting on a much higher throne. She was wearing three large golden crowns. She was surrounded with church-like splendor, and at her sides there were two banks of candles. The largest was as thick and as tall as the largest tower, down to the smallest kitchen candle. And all the emperors and kings were kneeling before her kissing her slipper.

“Wife,” said the man, giving her a good look, “are you pope now?”

“Yes,” she said, “I am pope.”

Then he stood there looking at her, and it was as if he were looking into the bright sun. After he had looked at her for a while he said, “Wife, It is good that you are pope!”

She stood there as stiff as a tree, neither stirring nor moving.

Then he said, “Wife, be satisfied now that you are pope. There is nothing else that you can become.”

“I have to think about that,” said the woman.

Then they both went to bed, but she was not satisfied. Her desires would not let her sleep. She kept thinking what she wanted to become next.

The man slept well and soundly, for he had run about a lot during the day, but the woman could not sleep at all, but tossed and turned from one side to the other all night long, always thinking about what she could become, but she could not think of anything.

Then the sun was about to rise, and when she saw the early light of dawn she sat up in bed and watched through the window as the sun came up.

“Aha,” she thought. “Could not I cause the sun and the moon to rise?”

“Husband,” she said, poking him in the ribs with her elbow, “wake up and go back to the flounder. I want to become like God.”

The man, who was still mostly asleep, was so startled that he fell out of bed. He thought that he had misunderstood her, so, rubbing his eyes, he said, “Wife, what did you say?”

“Husband,” she said, “I cannot stand it when I see the sun and the moon rising, and I cannot cause them to do so. I will not have a single hour of peace until I myself can cause them to rise.”

She looked at him so gruesomely that he shuddered.

“Go there immediately. I want to become like God.”

“Oh, wife,” said the man, falling on his knees before her, “the flounder cannot do that. He can make you emperor and pope, but I beg you, be satisfied and remain pope.”

Anger fell over her. Her hair flew wildly about her head. Tearing open her bodice she kicked him with her foot and shouted, “I cannot stand it! I cannot stand it any longer! Go there immediately!”

He put on his trousers and ran off like a madman.

Outside such a storm was raging that he could hardly stand on his feet. Houses and trees were blowing over. The mountains were shaking, and boulders were rolling from the cliffs into the sea. The sky was as black as pitch. There was thunder and lightning. In the sea there were great black waves as high as church towers and mountains, all capped with crowns of white foam.

Mandje! Mandje! Timpe Te!
Flounder, flounder, in the sea!
My wife, my wife Ilsebill,
Wants not, wants not, what I will

“What does she want then?” said the flounder.

“Oh,” he said, “she wants to become like God.”

“Go home. She is sitting in her filthy shack again.”

And they are sitting there even today.

https://www.pitt.edu/%7Edash/grimm019.html

 

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5 years, 4 months, and 14 days. Keep your eyes on the prize.

 

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The Man in the Arena by Theodore Roosevelt

theodore roosevelt pointing speaking president early 1900s

TR’s life shows us that hard work, tenacity, and a desire to do the right thing can get you far in life. In the most memorable section of his “Citizenship in a Republic” speech, Roosevelt captured his life philosophy in just a few sentences. “The Man in the Arena” tells us that the man we should praise is the man who’s out there fighting the big battles, even if those battles end in defeat. In our day, when cynicism and aloof detachment are considered hip and cool, TR reminds us that glory and honor come to those “who spend themselves in a worthy cause.”

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/manvotional-the-man-in-the-arena-by-theodore-roosevelt/ (emphasis added)

My dearest dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I apologize for the absence.  The days have been challenging.

When the going gets tough, I seek comfort in the words of T.R. Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech.  It is far better to have tried and failed (even failed greatly) than to have never tried at all.  People can bitch and moan all they want, but unless they are willing to pitch in and help bring about improvement, they are just wasted breath.

Unfortunately, too many these days are but useless talking heads.  I shall never forget a Superbowl ad I saw years ago:  two consultants were pitching an action plan to a company executive who replied, “Great!  I want you guys to execute that plan.”  The two consultants then laughed and said something to the effect of, “We are consultants.  We come up with the ideas, but we don’t know how to do it.”

Consultants these days are a dime a dozen — many are fresh out of college.  Without substantive knowledge and experience, on what are they basing their critical thinking and analytical skills?

Can critical thinking actually be taught?  Decades of cognitive research point to a disappointing answer: not really.  People who have sought to teach critical thinking have assumed that it is a skill, like riding a bicycle, and that, like other skills, once you learn it, you can apply it in any situation.  Research from cognitive science shows that thinking is not that sort of skill.  The processes of thinking are intertwined with the content of thought (that is, domain knowledge).

….

Thought processes are intertwined with what is being thought about.

Willingham, Daniel T., “Critical Thinking: Why Is It So Hard to Teach?” American Educator (Summer 2007), 8-10.

Thus, the lesson of the day is two-fold: gain substantive knowledge, and use it.

Be good, my sons.  Live well.  Be happy.

All my love, always,

Dad

P.S., I leave you with two additional thoughts.

 

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5 years and 4 months. Extend yourself, and empathize with others.

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“Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth… Love is as love does. Love is an act of will — namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Love is a choice.  Choose to love … life, the good people who positively affect your lives, the forests that clean our air, the ocean that provides for and recharges our soul, etc.  Go forth.  Experience life.  Extend yourself.

There are many whose advice is contrary to mine.  Ignore them for their words come from fear.  To them, the world is a dangerous place, where their feelings might get hurt, where they might get hurt, where they might be lead astray, etc.  “Might” is the operative word here.  All things are possible, but few are probable.  Do you lock yourself away from the world and live in a cocoon for fear of something improbable?

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/12/131219-lottery-odds-winning-mega-million-lotto/

Based on the above information, do you not go to the toilet because there is a 1 in 10,000 chance you could get injured by it?  In other words, if you go to the toilet 10,000 times, you may get hurt by it one time.

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Do you never step foot into the ocean because there is a 1 in 3.7 million chance that you could get killed by a shark?  Do you avoid going outside for fear of dying from a bee sting … even though the likelihood of that happening is 1 in 6 million?

Bad things CAN happen.  It’s possible.  However, the bad things that most people fear are often unlikely to happen … if they take the usual precautions.  For example, the likelihood of getting hit by lightning is 1 in 3,000.  However, if you are foolish enough to go out during a thunderstorm and stand in a pool of water on an empty field while holding an umbrella or metal club, then you’ve drastically increased your chances of getting hit by lightning.

All of the good stuff happens in the little moments where you just say to yourself, “A “heck with it, I’’m going for it.” When you extend yourself beyond what you thought was possible.

You’ll never see what the Grand Canyon looks like from an eagle’s perspective unless you have the guts to step out onto the Skywalk.

http://www.successful-blog.com/1/extend-yourself/

Everyone searches for success, however it is defined by that individual.  Often, social acceptance (e.g., being famous or popular), social rewards (e.g., making a lot of money), and happiness are components of how most people define success.  Yet, they act contrary to their goal by contracting into themselves instead of extending themselves to others.  You are unlikely to be successful sitting by yourself in a cave.  Your chances for succeeding are better if you go forth into the world and try your best.

Empathy is also a key to success.

This article by Dr. David Tobin, Senior Lecturer in Communication at Rice Business, was originally published as part of the curriculum in his class, Leadership Communication.  

In the business world, the problem with empathy is that too many people don’t understand what it really means and how big a factor it is in successful communication.

Houston Chronicle business columnist Chris Tomlinson sums it up well: “Surveys show that many managers consider empathy a sign of weakness or femininity, not the kind of thing macho businessmen embrace.” Quite simply, these managers are wrong. “Researchers who study leadership and corporate culture are turning up more and more evidence that empathic leaders build better teams, negotiate better deals and produce happier clients” (26 July 2015).

New York Times columnist David Brooks, who was the Rice University commencement speaker in 2011, makes the same point when he describes the rise of the “relational economy.” Computers are doing more and more of the cognitive tasks that used to be accomplished by lawyers and financial analysts–but they fail dismally compared to humans when it comes to handling a position of authority or accountability, or being part of a team. “Empathy becomes a more important workplace skill: the ability to sense what another human being is feeling or thinking” (4 Sept. 2015).

Here’s Tomlinson again: “Empathy is not mollycoddling, and it’s not a synonym for sympathy. It’s not solving someone’s problems for them or feeling pity . . . Empathy is an advanced communication skill that requires . . . understand[ing] the other person’s perspective by identifying his or her problems, needs, feelings, thoughts and values.”

Sound familiar? In Leadership Communication, we call it audience analysis. You know the mantra: “Business communication is goal-oriented and receiver-focused.” The best business communicators try very hard to know what their receivers are thinking, feeling, and worrying about. This knowledge (which, again, is not the same thing as sympathy) shapes how they communicate.

The last word on empathy I’ll leave to a Houston physician. Internist, hospitalist, and essayist, Dr. Ricardo Nuila spoke at a Rice TEDx event about the importance of paying attention to patients’ stories. Inevitably, empathy came up: “Teaching doctors to empathize,” he said, “is modern medicine’s Higgs boson [the elusive “God particle” of subatomic physics] – how do we keep our doctors competent and simultaneously empathetic? . . . This is the essence of empathy: using your brain to extend yourself into someone else’s story” (14 February 2015).

The problem with empathy is the assumption that it’s mostly about flexing your emotional muscles–but it’s not. It’s about using your brain.

https://business.rice.edu/wisdom/commentary/empathy-about-using-your-brain (emphasis added)

 

Empathy is the ability to share another person’s feelings and emotions as if they were your own.

noun

1. 

the projection of one’s own personality into the personality of another in order to understand the person better; ability to share in another’s emotions, thoughts, or feelings
2. 

the projection of one’s own personality into an object, with the attribution to the object of one’s own emotions, responses, etc.
Sympathy

1. 

sameness of feeling; affinity between persons or of one person for another
2.  Rare

agreement in qualities; harmony; accord
3. 

a mutual liking or understanding arising from sameness of feeling

In other words, empathy is putting yourself into another’s shoes.  If you are to reach your audience and truly understand the person you are speaking to, you must empathize with him/her.  “Seek first to understand,” remember?

All my love, always,

Dad

I leave with one last article

Extend Yourself

snowThe half life of an average new year’s resolutions is about a day or so. Just my guess, since that’s what this type of resolution usually looks like in my mind. “Tomorrow I’ll start to diet.” “Come Monday I’ll plan to go to the gym three times a week.” “I’ll meditate every morning.” “I’ll call one of my old high school friends once a week.” Blahblahblah.

It’s not about planning to get started. It’s about doing it. Right now. There is no time like the present time.

Our self improvement culture is relentless. We all get caught up in those muddled thought loops about what we should do and how to be a better person. It takes up an enormous amount of time and space – energy that could be spent to get up and just engage in whatever you think is good for yourself.

Engaging is not always easy for the Gentle Self. We get self conscious and are plagued by self doubts. It’s very tempting to just withdraw and avoid what makes us uncomfortable. We come up with all kinds of deals that we try to make with ourselves. Ok, I hid away all day behind my desk at work, but tomorrow at the family party, I’ll finally talk to uncle John. I’ll think of something to say, other than the weather…

Never mind that these plans mostly go unrealized, so we feel bad about it, and we come up with a plan how to make up for our failures. And fail again.

Engaging doesn’t have to be scary. It’s just a small piece of life we are looking for, and in order to get it we have to extend ourselves. Stretch yourself a little. Step out of your comfort zone, even if it’s just an inch.

All it takes is turning off your computer, pack yourself in some warm clothes and step outside the house. Breathe in the cold afternoon air. Notice the birds up in the sky. Touch the bark of a tree. Put your hands on your eyes and pay attention to how your senses sharpen. Play with your neglected cat. Meet the gaze of a person in the street, or at the supermarket register. Crack a smile. Make contact with the world.

There are millions of ways to engage, many of them too subtle for our clumsy minds to even recognize them. Extend yourself. Just a little. Again and again. Stop planning. Just do it.

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/gentle-self/2012/01/extend-yourself/ (emphasis added)

 

5 years, 3 months, and 8 days. Make a good first impression: be well-informed.

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/8d/3d/f5/8d3df5811f95ef9b368922c04aaae691.jpg

https://shoshandjaialai.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/facb2-32bfactors.jpg?w=656

https://i1.wp.com/goldprsocialmedia.com/invisalign/print/invisalign_infographic_1.3.jpg

A Harvard study revealed that it typically takes eight subsequent positive encounters to change another person’s negative opinion of you.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2015/02/10/the-do-over-how-to-correct-a-bad-first-impression/#3dece3f055f6

 

 

Recognize that changing someone’s perception will take time. As stated earlier, no matter who you are, you will inevitably make a less than positive impression on someone. While some have suggested that it can take months or even years to erase a bad first impression, a Harvard study suggests that it will take eight subsequent positive encounters to change that person’s negative opinion of you. In this context be persistent and patient.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140424005629-3411076-how-to-overcome-making-a-bad-first-impression

 

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

People are often full of shit.  Many will bluster or drone on and on about that which they know little.  They may cite one study or one source to validate their point.  Be not like them.

Be well-informed.  Read voraciously.  Read from diverse sources from different continents to combat biases and to gain greater perspective.  Think deeply and critically about what you read, see, and hear.  Never swallow wholesale what someone pitches; everyone has his/her biases.  Figure why they’re saying what they’re saying (e.g., are they paid to say it?), what they are omitting, what their assumptions are, etc.

One of my favorite dialogues are from the movie, The Negotiator, with Samuel Jackson and Kevin Spacey:

Now you're a history buff?
                 
I generally read histories and biographies.       

Don't believe everything you read.              

I didn't say I read just one book.                

I try to read all books on a subject.  You know, try to get all the facts...                

...and then decide for myself what really happened.

http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/n/negotiator-script-transcript-kevin-spacey.html (emphasis added)

Too many people are careless with their reputation.  They say or repeat nonsense and expect there to be few consequences for spouting crap.  They are wrong.  People of caliber notice.  They, then, give wide berth to the uninformed for, except as sheep and mindless consumers, not much good come of being uninformed.

Remember, everything we say and do reflect well or poorly on us, as individuals.  Everything about us communicates something about ourselves.  Thus, strive to make a great impression.  Speak well.  Be thoughtful.  Be well-mannered.  Exude confidence.

Bad first impressions are extremely difficult to correct: people rarely give you eight chances to counteract that one bad first impression.  Their impression of you will color their view of all you do.  If they think you are smart, they will pass off a mistake as a one-off event and not let that affect their judgment of you.  Conversely, if they think you are an idiot, they will think something you did well is but a fluke and you remain an idiot.

Life is hard enough as it is.  Why would you choose to make it harder on yourselves by giving bad first impressions?  Don’t do it.

Be well-read, thoughtful, well-mannered, and kind.  Make a great first impression.

All my love, always,

Dad

P.S., all is not lost if you made a bad first impression.  It just means you have a lot of hard work ahead of you to correct it.

The Do-Over: How To Correct A Bad First Impression

 Last year I wrote about the nature of first impressions. We’re continually told of the importance of making positive first impressions, especially given how quickly we determine them. Some research suggests that first impressions can be so powerful that they’re weighed more heavily than fact. We know that making a good first impression is critical to success in both our jobs and personal lives, but the fact is that sometimes we flub them. Whether because of pressure, nervousness, a wrong approach, or distraction, we don’t always show up the way we intended.

The question then becomes, how do we correct a bad first impression?

Here’s the good news: impressions evolve over time. You may not get a second chance to make a first impression, but you can create an opportunity to correct one. Here are five ways to do so:

Realize that an initial impression is just that – a beginning.

We’ve all changed our opinion about someone the longer we’ve known them. Consider a colleague that you initially thought was standoffish, but after sharing a project realized was someone who just took a while to warm up.

If we look at first impressions as make-or-break opportunities, then it’s easy to make excuses for not trying to correct them. Instead, consider that impressions continuously evolve with multiple touch points. If you want someone to get to know the real you, then put yourself in front of them. Ask the person to lunch or volunteer to help them. By witnessing your skills and personality over a longer period of time, their perception of you can grow.

 Remember that repeated, small interactions build trust fastest.

A Harvard study revealed that it typically takes eight subsequent positive encounters to change another person’s negative opinion of you. So be persistent and play the long game.

Further, small, predictable interactions increase trust greater than a one-time splashy event. Take the pressure off yourself to knock someone’s socks off, and instead focus on demonstrating your value over an extended period of time. Strive to be consistent, follow up, and follow through.

Ask for a chance to correct.

Being straightforward can help minimize misunderstandings and reframe the discussion. Consider simply saying, “I feel like we got off on the wrong foot. Can I take you to lunch?”

Honesty can be a game changer in any relationship and goes a long way toward changing someone’s perspective. If you feel that there’s a failure to connect interpersonally, provide your view of the situation and then vet it with the other person. Admit what caused your behavior that may have led to a wrong impression. If you have a family issue that caused you to be disengaged during a meeting, then say so. If the other party is as open minded as most people hope to be (more on this next), then they should give you the benefit of the doubt.

Remind the other person how open-minded he or she is.

Many people have what psychologists call an egalitarian goal, which means that they work hard to be open minded and fair in their interactions with others. Research shows that when you remind someone of their fairness, they will more conscientiously work to live up to that assessment.

Practically speaking, this means that after a less than stellar first interaction, you can send a follow up email and compliment the other person on their open mindedness or fairness in evaluating people. Or recognize how their perspicacity must be a real asset in their job. Reminding the other person of their egalitarian goal will help them remember to be more open minded in their perceptions of you.

Ask them for advice – on anything.

According to Wharton School professor Adam Grant, asking for advice is a smart way to be influential. Grant discusses one study in which researchers asked people to negotiate the possible sale of commercial property. When the sellers asked the buyers for advice on how to meet their goals, 42% were able to come to an agreement that made both sides happy.

“Asking for advice encouraged greater cooperation and information sharing, turning a potentially contentious negotiation into a win-win deal. Studies demonstrate that across the manufacturing, financial services, insurance and pharmaceuticals industries, seeking advice is among the most effective ways to influence peers, superiors, and subordinates,” Grant writes.

If you feel that you didn’t make a positive impression, follow up and ask the other person for advice on some aspect of work. This also allows you to get in front of the person again and make a new impression. Psychologist Robert Cialdini says that by asking for advice, you suddenly “have the basis of an interaction.” Advice can always be returned, as can a thank you.

Comment here or @kristihedges.

Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker and author of The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others. She blogs at kristihedges.com.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2015/02/10/the-do-over-how-to-correct-a-bad-first-impression/3/#7bbbb0f874de

 

5 years, 3 months, and 6 days. Be kind to your audience.

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https://i2.wp.com/quotescloud.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/The-size-of-the-audience-doesnt-matter.jpg

 

Pity the readers.

https://kmh-lanl.hansonhub.com/pc-24-66-vonnegut.pdf (emphasis added)

http://kmh-lanl.hansonhub.com/pc-24-66-vonnegut.pdf

My dearest and most precious Shosh and Jaialai:

Kurt Vonnegut said it best and most succinctly:  “Pity the readers.”  Be kind to your audience.  They occupy not your life and live not in your head; thus, they have the difficult task of trying to follow your thoughts — be it in written or oral form.  Help them.

First, know your audience.  Who are they?  What do they want out of the interaction with you?  What are their interests?  What are their levels of education?  What is their frames of reference?  For example, if you were talking to high school graduates who are sports fanatics, and you peppered your conversation with quotes from a philosophy book, do you think your audience would be hooked by your presentation or bored?  Know your audience.  Speak their “language” — be it words, anecdotes, imagery, etc.

Second, as the speaker or writer, IT IS YOUR JOB to communicate your thoughts clearly to your audience.  Don’t shirk your duties.  Worse, don’t blame your audience for your failure to do your job.

For example, your job as the writer is to help your readers understand what you are saying by clearly giving them roadmaps and textual clues for them to follow along.  Thus, use signals – such as commas, and words like “but” – to tell readers what to expect and to better help them understand your points.

Shosh, when you were a toddler, you visited me at the office and scared my staff.  Ms. T asked why you liked construction equipment or something that simple.  You responded with, “Well, I like them for three reasons.  First, …”  Your detailed analysis as well as clear and organized thinking freaked them out.  Mr. D said he’d rather have kids who are not as smart since they would be easier to teach.

In life, you will find that if you care about your audience, they will care about you in return.  Do the hard lifting and complicated analyses for your audience and explain complex ideas in simple terms for your audience, and they will knock down your door to get to you and your services.  I promise.

Be well, my sons.  Live well.  Be happy.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

5 years, 3 months, and 2 days. Trust not the talking heads and marketers: they have no love for you, only themselves.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg got into an awkward exchange with a top Democratic senator on Tuesday when the lawmaker began asking him personal questions.

During the blockbuster hearing on Capitol Hill, Sen. Dick Durbin asked Zuckerberg, “Would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?”

“Um,” Zuckerberg said before a long pause. “No.”

The audience and panel of senators erupted in laughter at Zuckerberg’s hesitancy to answer the question, but Durbin used it to make a point about personal privacy, which was the focus of the joint hearing between the Senate’s Judiciary and Commerce committees.

“If you’ve messaged anybody this week, would you share with us the names of the people you’ve messaged?” Durbin asked.

“Senator, no, I would probably not choose to do that publicly here,” Zuckerberg said.

“I think that might be what this is all about — your right to privacy, the limits of your right to privacy, and how much you’d give away in modern America,” Durbin said.

http://www.businessinsider.com/dick-durbin-asks-mark-zuckerberg-what-hotel-he-stayed-at-2018-4 (emphasis added).

https://seekersportal.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/no-facebook1.png?w=527&h=527

https://shoshandjaialai.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/b8ca3-1484256_10203163319311787_1544780957_n.jpg?w=656

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Zuckerberg allowed a full eight seconds to lapse and grimaced and chuckled before he finally said he admitted that he wouldn’t share the name of the hotel he stayed at the night before.  http://metro.co.uk/2018/04/11/mark-zuckerberg-got-flummoxed-asked-share-something-private-7456950/.  We’re talking about just the name here, not even the room number.  Yet, Zuckerberg was unwilling to share that information while his company (Facebook) not only scanned your postings and data-mined them, but sold and shared them with complete strangers who used that information to manipulate you, to target you for ads and misinformation.

(To be clear and to be fair, Facebook claims it gives you control over your data, and you can opt out.  However, such controls are often buried in obscure provisions under mounds of legalese that would bore most people to tears and cause most people’s eyes to glaze over.  So, did Facebook effectively give you control, or only the illusion of control?

This strategy is nothing new.  At the Enron of Healthcare, despite insurance laws requiring insurance policies to be written in clear and easy to understand language, they buried and obfuscate critical provisions such that they were able to tell policy holders certain benefits were not covered when, according to internal emails, they knew full well those benefits were covered.  They knew full well few people have the time, resources, and ability to fight them.  They bank on that.)

How is that right?  Does Zuckerberg care about you, one of the billions of Facebook users?  Does he give damn about your privacy, your protection?  No.  His actions speak much louder than his words: he wouldn’t share with the public even the name of his hotel, yet he mined all of your posts and sold them to complete strangers.  He cares about himself, not you.

That’s reality.  Businesses and business owners are there to make a profit for themselves.  That’s their primary motive.  If their interests and yours should align, then that’s a bonus.  However, if their interests and yours diverge, know that they will protect their business interests and profit motives first and foremost.  Only fools think otherwise.  Thus, be not surprise that a businessman sold you out for profit.  You were a fool to think he wouldn’t.

Don’t be fools.  Never trust a business or businessman to have your best interest at heart regardless of what he says.  He only has his best interest at heart.  Remember that always.

Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, said he’s left Facebook on account of its data collection practices.  https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2018/04/08/apple-co-founder-steve-wozniak-says-hes-leaving-facebook/497392002/.  Others have also.  You may wish to consider doing similar.

You have a voice.  Use it.  Vote with your feet and/or your wallet as appropriate.

Remember, you are responsible for teaching others how to treat you.  If you let them abuse you, then you must accept responsibility for allowing it — and they for their misdeeds.

Now, let me be clear that I’m not a fan of Facebook.  I dislike it for several reasons.

First and foremost, studies have found Facebook use positively correlates with depression.  See, e.g., http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0069841; https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/21st-century-aging/201308/facebook-depression;  https://www.forbes.com/sites/amitchowdhry/2016/04/30/study-links-heavy-facebook-and-social-media-usage-to-depression/#385bdfa64b53; https://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/how-facebook-makes-us-unhappy.

Second, Facebook creates echo-chambers and encourages users to limit their exposure to the world.  For example, studies show that more than 60 percent of Americans get their news from Facebook and Twitter.  http://www.niemanlab.org/2015/07/new-pew-data-more-americans-are-getting-news-on-facebook-and-twitter/.  The danger is that the algorithm for those social media sites limits and tailors what they post to each user’s based on the likes and preferences of that user.  In other words, you will only see and hear what you want to see and hear.  Echo-chamber.

The danger of echo-chambers cannot be over stated.  For example, America’s first attempt at creating a union under the Article of Confederation failed because the states balkanized.  Today, the nation is fractured because people balkanize by confining  themselves to silos of only like-minded individuals.  In other words, they limit themselves to echo-chambers.  Facebook plays a significant role in creating this phenomenon.

We while away the hours with phantom “friends” on Facebook instead of walking down to the local park to hang out with our neighbors, or to the local outdoors market and expose ourselves to the wide variety of people who inhabit our communities, our country, our planet.

Groupthink causes all sorts of problems.  It can whip us into a frenzy because outside perspectives are disallowed or discouraged — they are not part of the echo-chamber.  Groupthink encourages mob mentality, and that is never a good thing.

No, my sons, limit your use of, and exposure to, Facebook and other social media.  It’s a tool.  Use and control it, instead of allowing it to control and use you.

As I have said before, limit your screen time to no more than a couple of hours a day — including TV, computer, smart phone, video games, etc.  Step outside.  Enjoy the fresh air, grass, and people.  Embrace life.  Don’t live vicariously through others.

Now, turn off the computer and grab your brother to go for a walk around the neighborhood as we used to do.

All my love, always,

Dad

https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/b/relax-barefoot-enjoy-nature-green-lawn-hyde-park-london-united-kingdom-uk-45667001.jpg

https://beafunmum.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/enjoy-nature.jpg

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5 years, 2 months, and 30 days. Live your passion and aspire to be better.

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https://image.slidesharecdn.com/only2commandments-13438724310121-phpapp01-120801205638-phpapp01/95/only-2-commandments-6-728.jpg?cb=1344317147

My dearest and most precious Shosh and Jaialai:

Today, I write with a heavy heart.  It just is.  But, it’s ok.  Sadness is a part of life.  Accept it, deal with it, move on.

It’s apt as, today, I’d like to talk about being positive.  They say, “Misery loves company,” but that is true only for the miserable person.  Unless we’re down in the dumps, who among us enjoy hanging out with someone who is always mopey and miserable?  Not I.  I suspect not you either.  It’s probably true of most people.

Misery exhausts us.  It’s draining.  It takes our life force.

Thus, be a good friend and empathize or sympathize with your friends as necessary when they face difficulty.  However, at all other times, focus on the positive.  (Thus, Jesus, when addressing a more enlightened crowd, distilled the more negative 10 Commandments given to a people during the infancy of their civilization — after years of slavery in Egypt — to the two life-affirming Two Commandments of “Love God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”)

Life is miserable enough as it is without you feeding the beast called Misery.  Feed Joy and Beauty, and you shall be well-rewarded.  Focus on that which uplifts you, makes you happy, and makes your life worth living.

a recently-published study by Toshimasa Sone and colleagues at Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Sendai, Japan. In a seven-year longitudinal study of 43,000+ Japanese adults, these researchers found that individuals who believed that their life was worth living were less likely to die than were their counterparts without this belief.

One focus in this study was the Japanese notion of ikigai, translated by the researchers as believing that one’s life is worth living. In Japan, ikigai is apparently a common term for what English speakers might term subjective well-being, and it includes purpose and meaning, with connotations of joy about being alive. So, one’s hobby might provide ikigai, or one’s family, or one’s work.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-good-life/200809/ikigai-and-mortality (emphasis added)

What makes your life worth living?  Numerous talking heads, philosophers, and thought leaders offer countless solutions.  See, e.g., https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hot-thought/201002/what-makes-life-worth-living.  But, they can’t help you.  Only YOU can decide what makes you happy, gives your life meaning, and makes your life worth living.

Find your ikigai.  How?  Live.  Experience life.  Embrace it.  Find joy where ever you are.  Stop and pay attention: it’ll reveal itself to you, be it a leaf that flutters vigorously while others are still, a bird song, or the murmur of the grove.  Find your passion.  Find what gives your life meaning.  Do all the positive things that makes life beautiful and avoid, to the extent possible and practicable, all things that detracts from the beauty of life … including hours wasted on video games and social media (where, studies show, you end up more depressed from all the false fronts “friends” post on their feeds).

Others have other suggestions for finding your ikigai.  I leave you with two.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

Discover Your Passion — Or ‘Ikigai’ — With 4 Simple Tips

,

Earlier this year, a friend from Denmark shared with me how she felt contented and happy in all areas of her life except for her career. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do and struggled to discover her passion.

The question, “how do I know what my passion is?” is one I have asked myself many times and is something I often get asked. I once thought that it was only the younger generation (i.e. Millenials or Gen Y’s) who were concerned about this. But research from IBM Institute of Business Value (2014) says otherwise. Millennials (20%), Gen X’s (21%) and Baby Boomers (23%) see doing work they are passionate about as an important long-term goal.

Finding your passion can seem like a very western concept but it actually isn’t. In Japan there is a term called “ikigai,” which means, “reason for being.” This is similar to passion but holds a strong “purposeful” connotation. Ikigai is also believed to be the union of 4 elements: What you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. The Japanese see the discovery of your ikigai as requiring a deep, long search within yourself that can bring about satisfaction and meaning to life.

So how can you go about discovering your passion or ikigai? Here are some tips that will help you:

Tip 1: Find a purpose you strongly believe in

People discover their passions or “ikigai” through a number of ways, such as going through life-changing experiences (both positive and negative), deep inner-reflection, by chance or by an inner-determination to make a change. Finding a strong purpose or something you deeply care about will keep you on the path to staying true to yourself and focused on persisting through difficult times. A great starting question to reflect on is, “what would I like to see different in the world?”

Tip 2: Stop thinking and start doing

If you are someone with many passions or you’re waiting for the right moment, there is no perfect time or age to pursue your passion. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook FB -1.34% aged 19 and Charles Flint on the other hand founded IBM IBM -2.25% at the age of 61. The only way you can find your true passion is through trying. Every small step counts and will lead you closer to discovering your passion.  And if you’re passionate about many things, narrow it down to the top 2 and try those long enough so you can decide if that is what you want to do.

Tip 3: Speak to people with similar passions

Speak to people with similar passions, interests and even those who have been there and done that. You may be surprised by the complementary ideas they’ll share with you, the opportunities to collaborate and even the mistakes they’ll share with you from their journey (which you can learn from). But if you are blazing an unknown trail, don’t underestimate the impact you can make. Malala Yousafzai, an inspiring female activist for girl’s education in Pakistan, was one of the few who would speak and write about this from the young age of 11. When she was 15, a Taliban gunman attempted to murder her. But she didn’t stop campaigning for girls’ education and is now the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.

Tip 4: Accept that setbacks are normal

Whilst pursuing your passion or reason for being, you may experience many set backs such as the lack of support from peers, your ideas being dumped, not receiving financial help, etc. Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, shared that he was rejected from Harvard Business School 10 times but that didn’t stop him from starting his company, which is now valued at $264.9 billion. Recognize setbacks as normal and learn from them, dust yourself off and keep moving forward.

Discovering your ikigai, or passion, can be one of the greatest journeys you will embark on. It will be challenging and there will be many ups and downs.  Just remember it won’t happen overnight. As Diana Ross once said, “you can’t sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream, you’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.”

 

How To Find Your Ikigai And Transform Your Outlook On Life And Business

,

One of my favorite things about my work at BodeTree is the fact that I get the chance to learn from amazing entrepreneurs every day.

Recently, one such entrepreneur by the name Maria Turco, Chief Yogini of Honor Yoga and a client of BodeTree, introduced me to a concept that I’ve been unwittingly searching for my entire life.

The concept is called Ikigai, and it is a Japanese term that roughly translates to “reason for being.”

I was immediately intrigued and set about learning everything I could about this framework and how it applies to my life as an entrepreneur.

What I discovered helped to bring into focus a “theory of everything” that I’ve struggled for years to articulate on my own.

What is Ikigai?

 Ikigai (pronounced “eye-ka-guy”) is, above all else, a lifestyle that strives to balance the spiritual with the practical.

This balance is found at the intersection where your passions and talents converge with the things that the world needs and is willing to pay for.

 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt a certain existential frustration that stemmed from the conflicting desires. One one hand, I wanted to live a life of meaning and consequence. On the other, I wanted to enjoy the lifestyle that came along with money.

The result was an infuriating struggle between the things that made money and the things I truly cared about.

I set out to solve this with a concept I called “Enlightened Entrepreneurship,” which tried to find the right balance between these seemingly conflicting goals.

However, I always felt it was missing a certain something that I could never put my finger on.

I now believe that Ikigai is the refined version of the concept I was looking for. It is, simply put, your reason for getting out of bed every morning.

Discovering your Ikigai

One of the many mistakes I’ve made in my life was believing that money led to fulfillment. That’s largely why I went into finance in the first place.

When I think back on those days, I can’t help but think of the James Taylor lyric “you can play the game and you can act out the part,even though you know it wasn’t written for you.”

It never felt right, but I thought that if I had money, then I could have an impact on the world.

What I learned, however, is that form follows intent.

To discover you Ikigai, you must first find what you’re most passionate about. Then, you find the medium through which you can express that passion.

Steve Jobs is a fantastic example of this idea. It’s easy to think of Jobs as a titan of technology, but that would be inaccurate. Jobs was a lover of fine craftsmanship, first and foremost.

Whether it was a matter of collecting handmade Japanese tea cups or obsessing over design details of various products, he wrapped himself in his passion for finely made items.

Apple and Pixar were merely his chosen mediums of expression.

This is something that I can relate to. I’d be lying if I said that I always cared deeply about finance, technology, or franchising. Truth be told, those things are not particularly meaningful to me in and of themselves.

What I am passionate about is transparency, truth, and helping people live up to their highest potential.

My company is simply the vehicle through which I can take these passions, apply them to the things that the world needs, and make a profit in the process.

In other words, BodeTree is my Ikigai.

A transformative realization

This is not to say that work is the most important thing in my life. That honor falls to my faith and my family. While I’m far from perfect, I strive to make sure that they are the center of my life.

However, there’s a difference between the things that are important in your life and your life’s work.

Ikigai is about finding joy, fulfillment, and balance in the daily routine of life.

 It’s all too easy to fall victim to siloed thinking, that our job, family, passions, and desires are all separate and unrelated aspects of our lives.

The fundamental truth of Ikigai is that nothing is siloed. Everything is connected.

This realization has changed my outlook for the better. Whether you call it Ikigai or Enlightened Entrepreneurship, the truth remains. It is possible to be true to your passions, live a life of consequence, and still use business as a medium of expression.

At the intersection of all of this are feelings of peace and lasting happiness that can sustain us throughout our entire lives.