Is Kodawari the enemy of diversity?

I was enjoying listening to Ken Mogi talk to Nick Kemp on the great Ikigai Tribe podcast this morning and I had such an epiphany I nearly stopped running (fun fact: having epiphanies is Ken Mogi’s Ikigai!).

Firstly, what is Kodawari?

“Kodawari is a personal standard, to which the individual adheres to in a steadfast manner. It is often, though not always, used in reference to a level of quality or professionalism to which the individual holds. It is an attitude, often maintained throughout one’s life, constituting a central element of ikigai. An approach whereby you take extraordinary care of very small details.”  –

Ken Mogi

The two men were talking about the apprentice model. Mogi san shared a few anecdotes about how Kodawari influences on the job training and learning of a skill or craft. At around the 21 minute mark, they begin to discuss Jiro Ono, the famous Sushi restaurant owner. Mogi san describes the lack of feedback as the “default way to learn…observe your master and steal it”. In many traditional Japanese crafts, sports and hospitality settings, “nobody teaches you from a theoretical point of view”.

Nick goes on to comment, “It draws out the best in the apprentice or the student and I guess that it draws out the best apprentice”. Nick highlights the need for mindfulness and persistence to continuously observe the master and steal from them. No feedback, constructive or positive to give you guidance, just continuing to watch and learn.

And it was at this point I had my epiphany! I reflected on the way that this spirit of kodawari is still very much at large in the modern white collar workplace. Companies still retain some of the practices of a “jobs for life” culture. In this long term employment scenario, I have plenty of time to “observe and steal”. My manager is not required to fast track my learning and I can continue along the apprentice path at a slow pace, with plenty of overtime built in to continue this in depth learning journey. My manager also learned in this way so is merely using a tried and tested way to pass down information “Observe and Steal” and “the hidden thing to be discovered” a common trope in Japanese literature according to Mogi san.

And this is why kodawari can be seen as an enemy of diversity.

Not all talent has the luxury of the time required to “observe and steal”

If I’m a woman, I don’t have the flexibility to “observe and steal”.

If I am planning a family, I need to move up the organisation as quickly as possible before I face the maternal wall. I need to accelerate my learning so I don’t fall behind my male peers if I take any type of childcare leave.

If I already have caregiver responsibilities, I can’t keep watching to find the mystery revealed, to stay late every day only to be told “You might end up being a good manager one day” (To paraphase the Jiro example from the podcast)

If I’m a foreigner, my limited time working visa does not allow me the luxury of this type of apprentice path. I need to grow and to prove my competence and usefulness to the organisation before my visa renews. And depending on my cultural dexterity I also have to shift through many layers of what may seem to be “atarimae” (common sense) before I can understand the nuances of what are being taught.

So when kodawari is tied up with an OJT, apprentice style power dynamic, it can really exclude those who do not reflect the lifestyle of the “master”.

What can you do about it?

If you want to develop yourself as an inclusive manager then take a look at how you develop talent.

Giving direct constructive feedback is really helpful when delivered in a timely, specific and growth oriented manner.

And start practicing how to give positive feedback, catch them doing something good and reinforce that behaviour.

According to a Harvard study, the average employee ideally needs 6 positive pieces of feedback for every negative review received

How about in your team? In your relationships? What are your ratios looking like? I often ask this in Feedback training for Managers and am usually met with some sheepish grins. I raise my own hand and admit my ratios could be better too. I’ve been trained to focus on the negatives and overcome my weaknesses. It is still an ongoing reprogramming for myself to look at how can I double down on my strengths and use those for growth.

Go out and have a go. See what giving a 6:1 ratio feels like. How does it change you? How does it change your relationships?

So what do you think? How might “kodawari” spirit be limiting opportunities for diverse talents in Japan? What can you do about it in your organisation?

Seize September

Make March Matter Part VI: #AccentuateAugust wraps up

This free online community was created on February 27th as a way to support entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners affected by Coronavirus cancellations.

Our aim is to provide connection, accountability and inspired action. It is a community that brings smiles, cheerleaders and new ideas.

What happened in August?

  • 215 people in the Facebook group . Our doors are always open to new members who need support and community.
  • 9 Regular Meetings –  Monday Morning Accountability Kick Off, Friday Evening TGIF Week in Review. The bookends of the start and end of the week are powerful motivators.
  • 3 Guest Speaker Content Sessions  –”How I became a self-published author in 4 d, 8 wks and 38 yrs” with Angela Ortiz and “Finding Insight through Art: Tangle Pattern Meditation” with Kristen McQuillin and Tracey Northcott at Drawing Meditations, and “The Devil in the Details—the translation game explained” with Phil Robertson of Honyaku Plus – Full Replays of the guest sessions are available at Make March Matter
  • 6 Virtual Co-working Sessions hosted by Katheryn Gronauer and Jennifer Shinkai – lots of supportive brainstorming and motivation happening in these sessions

We will continue into September!

The theme for next month will be…..

Drumroll please……….:

….

 “Seize September”

Why?

We took a little bit of a mental break in August with the Accentuating theme – focusing on shining a light on a few key areas of our lives.

September though is all about the back to school energy, the change of seasons and the chance to harvest what we have sown as well as lay down ideas to take us into winter. Over the next few weeks, the heat and humidity will start to subside, we may have a few typhoons and then we are into the gorgeous autumn season.

So it’s time to Seize the day and the month. I love a bit of etymology (blame my English Literature degree) and I found the root of the word from medieval Latin sacire, in the phrase ad proprium sacire ‘claim as one’s own’.

What can you do to “claim September as your own”? How will you make it special? What will you be able to say “I did it” at the end of the month?

Seize September: Make March Matter Part VII

September 16th Guest Speaker Announcement

We already have one guest speaker lined up – Profit, Pause, Pivot- Emily Downey, Spartan Global Partnerships. There will not be a recording so don’t miss this exclusive free event to help you pivot into the final quarter of 2020!

See you over at the Facebook Group

How can you support Make March Matter?

1. Contribute

Make March Matter is and will remain a free community. If you are in a position to contribute, I accept payments via PayPal to jennifer.shinkai@gmail.com. Previous contributions ranged from ¥10,000 to ¥30,000 or choose an amount of your choice. Entirely optional and gratefully received.


2. Share your knowledge

I’m actively looking for guest speakers to share your expertise, knowledge and offers to the community. You get a great platform to practice your online facilitation and an engaged and interested audience ready to learn from you. Drop me a DM if you might be interested.

3. Grow the community

Invite your friends and partners who might benefit and bring new ideas to the group.

Share the event reviews on your SNS. 

4. Shine a light

Write a testimonial on my Facebook Business Page https://www.facebook.com/jennifershinkaicoach/

or LinkedIn Page http://jp.linkedin.com/in/jennifershinkai

Ikigai and Starting Small

In The Little Book of Ikigai,  neuroscientist, Ken Mogi approaches Ikigai from the perspective of small and simple daily steps that you can integrate to live a more purposeful and happy life. He shares case studies of artisans, sushi chefs and shinkansen (Bullet Train) cleaners working with purpose.

He outlines 5 pillars of Ikigai that are foundational rituals and daily practices:

Pillar 1: Starting small

Pillar 2: Releasing yourself

Pillar 3: Harmony and sustainability

Pillar 4: The joy of little things

Pillar 5: Being in the here and now

Pillar 1: Starting Small

This is such a powerful and freeing idea when approaching Ikigai. Sometimes the hunt for purpose can be overwhelming. A Herculean task that requires strength, resources and boundless energy.  The concept of starting small allows you to just try a small step, a tiny pivot. It aligns beautifully with  concepts from design thinking: quick iterative prototyping and learning from experiments.  We can think about the MVP, Minimum Viable Product, for the situation we are in and “ship” that. We don’t need to wait for the all-singing, all-dancing, bells and whistles version.  We can try it on for size. See what works and what does not. Then we can iterate and improve.

We don’t need to wait for the all-singing, all-dancing, bells and whistles version.  We can try it on for size.

By starting small, we are taking action but in a manageable and sustainable way. You are not running a marathon, you are starting day one of the couch to 5K! You are not banishing sugar from your diet, just buying and choosing a different afternoon snack. Starting small allows you to replicate the outcome or experience more easily and then ladder up as you learn what works for you and your lifestyle.

Starting small reduces the barrier to entry.

Starting small reduces the barrier to entry. From a Japanese corporate culture context it is a helpful approach as it reduces the perception of risk. Perceived risk is a powerful way to keep you stuck. How about trying a small pilot with a few people to learn and get feedback? Instead of investing hundreds of dollars in the perfect website, you can bootstrap a facebook page to gauge interest. Instead of creating multiple SKUs, just try one and see what happens.

Starting small allows you to be more playful.

Starting small allows you to be more playful. You can be freer in your execution as there is less skin in the game. Reducing your expectation of outcomes allows you to take action more quickly and move forward.

For example, when I was thinking about transitioning back into L&D, it had been 7 years since I led a group training session. I started small by leading a free Lean In Circle for women in managerial roles in Japan. There was a cap on number and the content was freely available at leanin.org. so my role was purely facilitation and marketing. I ran the group consistently for 12 months whilst working my day job as a Marketing Manager.  When I started the group I did not know that I wanted to pivot into L&D but I felt a strong call to do the work for women’s empowerment for the community and also for myself as it was what I needed as I was returning to work after 16 months of maternity leave.

In another example of “starting small”: I approached a different audience with a different topic. I began running in-house sessions about online personal branding for the sales people in my recruitment company. It was aligned to my work as Marketing Manager and useful for the business. I got feedback on my facilitation style and developed the content and my confidence. Then I raised the stakes, but still playing it safe, by delivering the session to 30 professionals as part of FEW Japan’s Career Strategies Seminar.  It was an event I had attended as a participant in the past so I knew that it would be a kind crowd!

When I transitioned out of my corporate job, I started small by working with training partners and delivering their content. I was not involved in the sales and just focused on delivery. 5 years in,  most of my corporate revenue comes from working directly with clients which fulfills my Ikigai by allowing me to create new custom programs.

Starting small gives you space to experiment and reduces the barrier to entry. Starting small allows you to integrate Ikigai actions fast!

How can you “start small” and integrate your ikigai?

Share your Ideas in the comments!

Accentuating August

Make March Matter Part V: #jumpstartjuly wraps up

This free online community was created on February 27th as a way to support entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners affected by Coronavirus cancellations.

Our aim is to provide connection, accountability and inspired action. It is a community that brings smiles, cheerleaders and new ideas.

What happened in July?

  • Almost 215 people in the Facebook group . Our doors are always open to new members who need support and community.
  • 8 Regular Meetings –  Monday Morning Accountability Kick Off, Friday Evening TGIF Week in Review The bookends of the start and end of the week are powerful motivators.
  • 2 Guest Speaker Content Sessions  –”The Essential Photos you need to build your business” with Tia Haygood of TopTia and “SDGs for SMEs” with Sarajean Rossitto, Social Impact Architect
  • 14 Virtual Co-working Sessions hosted by Katheryn Gronauer and Jennifer Shinkai – lots of supportive brainstorming and motivation happening in these sessions

We will continue into August!

The theme for next month (after another interesting #hashtag debate in the group) will be…..

Drumroll please……….:

….

 “Accentuating August”

Why?

It’s the 6th month of life with Covid-19 and Make March Matter – and I don’t know about you but I’m a bit tired. August is usually my month to travel to Europe, reconnect with family and friends, escape from Tokyo’s heat and humidity. I basically designed my life to not work in August – part of my Ikigai. But with the slow start to the year, no Olympics and no travel plans, I decided to try to embrace this month and enjoy it in Tokyo.

And words like “action”, “ambitious”, “aim high”, “awesome” sounded too much like the endless hustle and grind that has been driving a lot of this years pivoting. I need a break!

“Aspirational”, “abundant” were close contenders but the focus seems to be on something that you don’t have, looking at the lack.

“Analyse” was up there too but who wants to spend the summer holidays looking at spreadsheets.

So “Accentuating August” – it’s about the here and now, appreciating what is right in front of you. It’s about drawing attention and highlighting things. It’s about showing off and slowing down. There’s something soft and sensual about it that reminds me of my Covid curves! Enjoy this time, focus on what you love about your business, your customers, yourself.

What do you want to give prominence to in your life this month?

Health? Relationships? Business Development? Content Creation? Systems?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Make-March-Matter-1.png
Accentuating August: Make March Matter Part VI

See you over at the Facebook Group

How can you support Make March Matter?

1. Contribute

Make March Matter is and will remain a free community. If you are in a position to contribute, I accept payments via PayPal to jennifer.shinkai@gmail.com. Previous contributions ranged from ¥10,000 to ¥30,000 or choose an amount of your choice. Entirely optional and gratefully received.


2. Share your knowledge

I’m actively looking for guest speakers to share your expertise, knowledge and offers to the community. You get a great platform to practice your online facilitation and an engaged and interested audience ready to learn from you. Drop me a DM if you might be interested.

3. Grow the community

Invite your friends and partners who might benefit and bring new ideas to the group.

Share the event reviews on your SNS. 

4. Shine a light

Write a testimonial on my Facebook Business Page https://www.facebook.com/jennifershinkaicoach/

or LinkedIn Page http://jp.linkedin.com/in/jennifershinkai

Ikigai Myth Busting

In the popular TV show, MythBusters, the team perform intricate scientific experiments often accompanied with fire, explosions and cool gadgets. I’m going to take a more sedate approach and base my Myth Busting on my experience as a coach and the examples I have seen of people who are on the journey of successfully integrating ideas of Ikigai into their daily lives.

My ikigai is set in stone. 

This is one of the most limiting of the myths about Ikigai. 

There seems to be some feeling that I need to set my path, decide my Ikigai and then stay on that path until the day I die. And there also seems to be a lot of shame and feelings of mediocrity or failure if you are not on that path already. Sure there are people who set out on a path of mastery and are able to commit to that for their entire life. More power to their elbow. 

But for the rest of us who are still wondering “what do I want to be when I grow up?”, the pressure to settle on one clearly defined purpose can feel heavy and restricting. 

By being kinder to yourself you allow yourself the space to explore. As Mogi defines it “releasing yourself” is a great place to start on that.

I coached a single mother who was looking for ways to move from a well paying but unfulfilling corporate job to setting up her own freelance business as a translator. When she realized that it was not only “OK” but better for her not to be tied to a single ikigai, she was able to lead with her values.  She could focus on designing her life with her son. They travelled, created a beautiful life and a successful business emerged naturally out of that.

Your ikigai is also going to shift as you learn and gain life experiences.

The world around you changes. 

It may only be after experiencing a crisis, a loss or an unexpected opportunity that you discover the magic mix of the elements brought together to make you feel fully connected to your ikigai.

What seems like a disaster can be the opening to a new perspective and new opportunity. I am writing this in the during the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. 

In April. With the kids at home, a state of emergency announced in Tokyo, the days felt endless and it was impossible to plan.  It made me look at how I spend my time, what I want my home and relationships to be like. How can I reduce my consumption? How do I increase my mindful connection with others when I can’t be in the training room with them? What does the shift to online communication mean for my Ikigai?

You may be able to find your Ikigai in a dark time. Loss of a loved one, a job, health can be the catalyst or the start of your awareness of a calling, a different view on what is important to you

In times of crisis, you can realise truly what matters to you and why you are here. You may be able to use this shift in your environment to invest in the inner research necessary to move forwards. To turn the low level hum of awareness to a full chorus of action and implementation of behavior change.

For example, Glen Wood became an activist against “Pata Hara” (Paternity Harassment) in Japan as he became embroiled in his own court case with his employer. With his personal experience and being a Japanese speaking foreigner, Glen was able to give voice as a change maker to many Japanese who felt they could not upset the “wa”, the harmony. 

If you find that the idea of a single ikigai, a singular purpose to answer the question “Why am I here?”, restrictive, fear not! 

You and your environment are constantly shifting and adapting. New levels of awareness are emerging. Your task is to be open and alert to opportunities. Look out for patterns and hints about what, who and which moments are making you feel most alive.

Ikigai is only about work 

What if I am retired? On a career break? Can I not have an ikigai?

I hear this myth a lot when I work with expat spouses in Japan who are not able to work due to visa restrictions. 

Of course you can have a reason to live! Ikigai originally did not have a context of income and the Venn Diagram only added an extra element by incorporating what you can be paid for. So you have some choices here.

1. Expand your idea of “payment”  – does it need to be monetary? Can it be in recognition? Thanks? Status?

2. Remove the question from your discovery process. You are the boss of your life. If it does not feel relevant, then remove it. 

However, do ask yourself, why are you removing it? Is it because you don’t like the idea of sales? Or that you think your service has no value?

Is that releasing yourself or are you focused on a limiting self belief? I encourage you to challenge your resistance and ask “What is really happening here?”

Ikigai is nothing about work. It’s a spiritual practice.

It is a spiritual practice, correct. And you can integrate this practice into your work and how you approach your career as an essential part of your life

One of the phrases I hate the most is work/life balance. Last time I checked, my pulse was still beating whilst I was at work. And I have days when I feel so completely ALIVE at work, when everything is going smoothly and I am getting paid to do what I love, am good at and the world needs. 

Of course, what people mean when they say work/life balance is about making free time, time for family matters, hobbies and so on.  In 2017, Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo  said, “The term ‘work-life balance’ has been used in Japan for the past 20 years, but the concept has yet to take hold. Given this, I think we should take the initiative and change this phrase to ‘Life-Work Balance’, as I believe that ‘life’ should come first. “ 

I like to think that Koike was talking about Ikigai here and that meaningful, engaging work can be seen as an integral part of a well-balanced life.

Following my Ikigai means I have to join NPO as a volunteer

Did you miss the memo about the money question “What can you be paid for?” There is nothing in the original cultural concept of Ikigai that suggests that you need to be a starving artist or live like a monk.  Indeed, for many years post war Japan projected an image of having a very large middle class but in recent years income inequality has risen with Japan having the third highest income inequality in the G7 behind the UK and the US in 2019.

I believe that you can be comfortable and live a life of purpose with an integrated ikigai.  This is what makes this venn diagram model of Ikigai more powerful than other concepts about purpose. Many of us were raised that to follow our passion means that we will not be able to have financial freedom. I think that the Venn Diagram model of Ikigai gives us the freedom to explore what is possible without compromise.

I want to add a caveat to all of this. My experience is coming from a place of English, white privilege. I was raised in an working class turned entrepreneur’s family. My sister and I were the first generation to go to University straight after school but we were privately educated. I had many advantages before me. I have not had to fight past hardships based on the color of my skin in my home country.  Then even as a foreign business owner in Japan, now a minority, I still have white privilege. And I have a supportive partner who wants the freedom of choice that a dual income gives to him.  My coaching clients are generally successful corporate professionals, university educated and with more than their basic human needs covered. I talk a lot about gratitude for what we already have as well as being comfortable with believing that it is OK to want to live life differently.

Following my Ikigai means that I have to quit my job and start my own business

Entrepreneurship or freelancing might be the answer for you but it not the only way! In fact you can have such huge social impact when you are in a large corporation. 

I ran a workshop for high-potential women in a global FMCG manufacturer. One of the participants shared that she was passionate about sustainability. She had considered the idea of starting her own NPO but then realized that setting her sights on becoming the Director of SCM would allow her more impact.  Within a large scale organization she could leverage her talents and align them with the company sustainability goals and have huge impact at the source of the issue. Instead of building awareness in consumer behavior, she chose to focus on the way that she could influence that behavior through design of the supply chain.

Ikigai is selfish navel gazing

Quite the opposite. Ikigai is about finding your place in the world and living it fully. Using your gifts and energy to have a positive impact. 

It is focused on others what does the world need, not only on what you can get from that.

The most powerful impact though of integrating your ikigai is on other people. If more people were balanced and engaged, feeling ready to leap out of bed, can you imagine what an amazing world that would be?

It’s too late for me at 30,40,50,60 to start living my Ikigai

Bullshit! Just google “Late Bloomers” and see the inspiring stories of people who found their Ikigai later on in life. Stop using your age as an excuse. You might have missed the timing to be an olympic gymnast sure, but with a 100 year life on the cards you likely have plenty of time to retrain and refocus in whatever are you want. I don’t say it will be easy but challenge this belief that it is impossible due to your age. There may be a parallel or connected approach that would work for you.

What are some other myths or limiting beliefs you have or have heard about ikigai? Let me know your thoughts.

Into the unknown! – Starting Year 5 as an entrepreneur

Writing this post reminds me of the recent meme, “Job interviews in 2015: No one got the right answer to the question “Where do you see yourselves in 5 years time?””

As a facilitator and a coach navigating a “With Corona” world, this feels especially relevant. And I know that everyone has been impacted in some way and is feeling “Well this is not how I imagined my life would be like going into summer of 2020!”

Looking back at last year’s post, Integrating my Ikigai in Year 4, I closed off with excitement about the Tokyo Olympics “Unity in Diversity” theme. Whilst we don’t yet know the status of the Olympics for 2021, the global pandemic has certainly delivered a united human experience. Something that was not isolated to one location and one time. It is showing our interconnectedness as a human race.

And the race and gender identity aspects of diversity have also finally become part of a wider dialogue.

I guess that I can put 2020 down as the “year of unlearning”. Unlearning my bias, unlearning my lifestyle, unlearning my assumptions of what “should happen next”

It’s a slow process, with uncomfortable discoveries, constant inquiries and realignment of what I thought was true.

Re-evaluating my Ikigai

I am not going to lie. It’s been a roller coaster since February – as I imagine it has been for you. in the early days I lost myself for a bit. I’m an extrovert facilitator who loves to be in the room with people with plans to speak internationally. I love the mirroring that happens in group work and the ability it gives us to see different perspectives.

What the heck was I going to do? What was my reason for getting out of bed in the morning with all training postponed?

Professionally, launching the #makemarchmatter online community has given me life. Literally a reason to get out of bed in the morning, get dressed and put on makeup as we have 8:30am meetings and co-working spaces. It gave me a place to play and experiment with new online experiences and allows me to feel connected as we work through the new way to be in the world.

Personally, I’ve been studying more (The Copy Cure, Graphic Facilitation, Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute), enjoying access to amazing plays online and checking in on my veranda garden.

And in big news, I send my 15,000 word Ikigai book proposal to an agent in New York yesterday. A big milestone on a real labour of love (and frustration) over the last 12 months!

Resilience

This year has given me multiple opportunities to bounce forward, overcome disappointments and keep on trucking. I think Spartan Racing helped me develop this mindset and find ways to work through obstacles with humour and grace. Keep on, keeping on.

Being open also to the constant changing nature of information, ready for last minute ideas and reducing my focus to the things that I can control and influence have been essential mindsets for me this year.

Agility

Agility is my middle name! (Obviously, it isn’t, it’s Rebecca). Shifting all my offerings to shorter online sessions happened quickly. I had a solid base in virtual facilitation due to leading Lean In Circles online in the past.

Agility for me is also about not getting too hung up on plans turning out exactly as I hoped. I imagined I would be getting amped up for my role as an Olympic Volunteer and ready to make one of “My LIfe’s Wishlist” commitments from November 2019 happen: to hold an Olympic medal. I am going to need to be more creative on that so here is my ask to you: Do you know an Olympian or Paralympian close to Tokyo who will let me hold their medal? Any sport, any year, any type of medal? It would be a true testament to the next item if I can make this happen through my network. よろしくお願いします!

Points of You® Academy Workshops have also moved online. I’ll be delivering my first session in English on July 29, 30 and 31 so follow the Peatix Page for registration info

Community

Together Apart – even though we are physically distanced, I felt super close to a wider community of great people to support me. My family, obviously. My husband cooking, my kids keeping me busy with lego, animal crossing and origami, catching up every day online with my family in the UK. My coach, Sarah Furuya, has created a space where I can share my frustrations and hold the paradoxes of being “OK” (in the grand scheme of things) but also not “OK” (in my personal realm). My clients who have experimented with new formats online and been ready to try out new tools. My Points of You Global Tribe for the weekly uplifting sessions with hundreds of participants and those who have been joining my L2 Practice Sessions from around the world.

So here is to year 5. Into the Unknown! I don’t know exactly what it will bring for the industry but I do know that people still need to connect, to feel included and to develop ways to live meaningful lives together.

My secret to beating procrastination this month

At the time of writing this blog I’ve edited 12,000 words of my book proposal manuscript. I haven’t touched it since the start of school closures in March but this week I’ve been on fire!

The secret to my productive burst?

The kids being back at school?

It certainly helps but they’ve been going every day for certain periods of times since the start of June.

What gave me the practical drive?

justdoitjune, the monthly hashtag theme of #MakeMarchMatter online community?

It definitely helped my mindset. Publicly announcing I wanted to get it out of the door by the end of June has helped my drive.

But the real secret sauce for practical action is….

Drum roll please

Virtual Co-working!

It’s nothing revolutionary but it has been an essential framework for getting stuff done. Talking to a client today I realised that it might not be common practice so I wanted to share how to run a successful virtual coworking session.

Here’s how we run ours over at Make March Matter.

1. Someone takes the initiative to set up a session.

Share the calendar invitation and zoom link with the group. The wonderful Katheryn Gronauer from Thrive Tokyo has been a real leader in setting up regular sessions. We favour an 08:30 to 10:00 slot as it gives us an early win and we can start the day on fire!

2. Online coworking space opens

The first few minutes are a check in. We use Zoom but any video meeting system will do the trick!

A quick “what’s new?” and then the focus question “what are your goals for the session?”

3. Peer coaching opportunity

If people are struggling with what to prioritize, you can get a bit of peer coaching here. We’ve talked about using the session for projects that are Q2 in Eisenhower’s priority matrix (important but not urgent). External deadline focused work tends to get done anyway so how will you use this focused time for something that is different or special? Which feels harder?

4. Work segment 1 begins!

Camera off, Mute on and away we go! Knowing that there is a deadline, other people are working and you made a public commitment really help to keep you in a proactive mood, away from inbox, alerts and focused on the task in hand.

5. Half Time Check In

We get back together after 35-40 minutes and have another check in. Updates, obstacles, reaffirm next steps or actions. You might also do this standing up and stretching!

6. Work segment 2 begins

Again 35-40 minutes. We usually have some peer coaching in the half time check in so this is often 25 minutes but a Pomodoro works for me!

7. Final 5 mins for the Closing check in

Celebrate progress, thanks and done.

So what do you think? How could you use this in your business?

What other ideas do you have to increase WFH productivity with your team?

We didn’t plan our red themed dress code but some days we are just aligned!

#jumpstartjuly

Make March Matter Part IV: #justdoitjune is in the bag!

This free online community was created on February 27th as a way to support entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners affected by Coronavirus cancellations.

Our aim is to provide connection, accountability and inspired action.

What happened in June?

  • Over 210 people in the Facebook group . Yes, we hit the 200 milestone in the middle of the month. Our doors are always open.
  • Many members felt that they were starting to see some uptick in inquiries, changes of customer behaviour and their own mindset. Projects which were just an idea in March have now come to fruition. #justdoitjune was a great theme for me personally to keep things moving.
  • 9 Regular Meetings –  Monday Morning Accountability Kick Off, Friday Evening TGIF Week in Review The bookends of the start and end of the week are powerful motivators. Thanks to guest facilitator Tanja Bach for stepping in to facilitate one session. We experimented with Google Jamboard as a way to gain accountability and focus on the theme of Just Do It June. It was really powerful as a tool to check in with the jamboard in Week 3 and also in the End of Month review.
  • 3 Guest Speaker Content Sessions  – “Building your sales funnel on LinkedIn” with Tyron Giuliani, “Fun Facilitation for Engagement” with Hideyuki Yoshioka and “3 (More) Science Based Practices for Connection” with Jennifer Shinkai,
  • 12 Virtual Co-working Sessions hosted by member Katheryn Gronauer – These were amazing drivers of a lot of #justdoitjune output!

We will continue into July!

The theme for next month (after another interesting #hashtag debate in the group) will be…..

Drumroll please……….:

….

 “Jumpstart July”

Jumpstart July: Make March Matter Part V

July is the start of the 2nd half of the year. I know, right? Are we really half way through 2020? Let’s keep the momentum of #justdoitjune as we move into the hot summer months with #jumpstartjuly. What is something that you can apply a little extra focus on? Is there something that you can kick off and complete within Q3 or H2 of 2020?

See you over at the Facebook Group

How can you support Make March Matter?

1. Contribute

Make March Matter is and will remain a free community. If you are in a position to contribute, I accept payments via PayPal to jennifer.shinkai@gmail.com. Previous contributions ranged from ¥10,000 to ¥30,000 or choose an amount of your choice. Entirely optional and gratefully received.


2. Share your knowledge

I’m actively looking for guest speakers to share your expertise, knowledge and offers to the community. You get a great platform to practice your online facilitation and an engaged and interested audience ready to learn from you. Drop me a DM if you might be interested.

3. Grow the community

Invite your friends and partners who might benefit and bring new ideas to the group.

Share the event reviews on your SNS. 

4. Shine a light

Write a testimonial on my Facebook Business Page https://www.facebook.com/jennifershinkaicoach/

or LinkedIn Page http://jp.linkedin.com/in/jennifershinkai

Are you faithful to your Ikigai?

Views on Ikigai – Mieko Kamiya

Japan is known for both incredibly long work hours and one of the lowest levels of actively engaged workers in the world. It is no surprise that according to a 2010 Survey by Central Research Services,  73% of those Japanese surveyed stated that they “had an Ikigai”, but only 20% said that they actively found their Ikigai in their work. In the same survey, when asked how they would further develop their ikigai, the most popular answer was to find new hobbies and interests or deepen the knowledge and skill in existing ones (46%).  Only 13% thought that their Ikigai could be found in  volunteering or working for the benefit of social good. This is certainly a quite different approach compared to how the Ikigai Venn Diagram positions Ikigai in our life at the intersection of passion, skill, income and social impact!

In her seminal book, Ikigai ni Tsuite, (About Ikigai) Mieko Kamiya, the grandmother of Ikigai, talks about her work with leprosy sufferers and the meaning of Ikigai.

Kamiya talks about ikigai from two perspectives

1. The object of Ikigai – a person, a task, a moment in time

2. “Ikigai-kan” – the feeling of ikigai – of being alive and purposeful

Instead of the four questions of the Ikigai Venn Diagram, Kamiya focuses on two main lines of inquiry

1. What is my existence for? Is it for someone?

2. What is the purpose of my existence? If there is any, am I faithful to it?

Examining the first question, we can see alignment with a Central  Research Service survey mentioned above where people found their ikigai in their family, existing for someone, not in their work, for something.

What is my existence for? Is it for someone?

Humans are pro-social animals. We generally do better in communities, in groups and altruism is our modus operandi. We can align this question about the existence being externally focused, being for someone with the concept of “What does the world need?”.

If our existence is “for someone” then we are more connected to the wider reach of humanity. To me, this allows the perspective that finding your ikigai, rather than being selfish navel-gazing, is actually the most generous and selfless thing that you can do for your family and wider society.

What is the purpose of your existence?

It really is the big question – Why am I here? It is simple and difficult. Possibly and probably you will never know. Maybe for everything, maybe for nothing? Are we just here to procreate and ensure survival of the species? 

But as thinking creatures, this survival story is usually not enough. Why do you want to be here? How do you want to live? How do you want to pass through this life? How do you want to impact others? How do you want to impact yourself? What do you want to leave behind? You are reading this book because you are thinking about those questions seriously and the second part of this question might be the key to your happiness.

If there is a purpose to my existence, am I faithful to it?

Are you faithful to it? 

This is where you have the opportunity to catch yourself. Imagine, you are in the middle of a yet another meeting where the same old office politics derails things and you ask yourself.“Is this it? Is this why I am here? Is being in this room with these people right now connected to my purpose in life?” What might you do differently in your day to day if you consider if each decision, each moment you chose to be in is linked with the idea of being faithful to your purpose, to your Ikigai?

Ask yourself:

Am I acting in alignment with my Ikigai? 

Do the things I do each day support my purpose in life or are they keeping me in a holding patterns or worse, in conflict with the person that I believe I can be?

It is this conflict that leads to the mid-life crisis, to confusion and disappointment, to disillusion and despair. When you are not faithful to your Ikigai, you pull yourself away from your true potential. You refuse yourself the opportunity to exist at a fully integrated level. In the third part of the book, you will discover ways that you can be more faithful to your Ikigai. To integrate in a small way each day and keep the feeling of “iki-iki”.

Ikigai and Fame

Kamiya also talks about the fact that people with Ikigai are not necessarily famous or distinguished. They can be moving simply and deliberately towards their goals. To live your Ikigai is not about a search for riches, fame or status. It is about progress and the journey. 

Kamiya argues that reaching your goal is not the important part. Intentional steps and mindful consistent action are the hallmark of alignment with ikigai and purpose.

For me, this is such a freeing concept when we consider our Ikigai. Your purpose and existence does not need to be grand. It does not need to be compared to others. It is the passion for existence that is meaningful for you. Following this path and being true to it all have a great impact on society and make you feel powerfully connected to your own heart.

Ikigai and Comparison

Comparison is something which I’ve always struggled with and see these high expectations in my coaching clients all the time. The people I work with in my executive coaching practice are always intelligent, driven achievers. Otherwise they would probably not be at a level where they would be sponsored by their company for their coaching! And yet, a recurring theme is often that they are not enough. They compare themselves to their law school classmates, their MBA peers, the other leaders in their industry and they worry, “Is my ikigai big enough? Is it meaningful enough? Will I change the world?”

I love Kamiya’s offer, that your Ikigai doesn’t need to be so “extra”. It can just be. 

When you remove the weight of comparison how does it feel? Lighter? Easier? Then you might be on the right path. Instead of fighting against the voice, “is it enough?”, accept that it is and move towards it. 

Now, I’m not trying to say that you shouldn’t have an ikigai that is broader in scope. More power to your elbow! My offer is to accept that everything is ok. Work with what moves you. You can’t manufacture passion sustainably over time however much you want to so make sure you connect your true self with your Ikigai.

Ikigai and the Path Less Travelled

According to Kamiya, another area where conflict occurs in the search for Ikigai is when our new reason for existence, our enlightenment about our ikigai, seems to be a break with the current mode of existence

The voice of “should be” rises strongly. Social pressures about the correct path based on your previous qualifications and experience, background, gender, age, race, sexual orientation, ability etc all start to come into play. A common refrain from my Ikigai Coaching Clients is the fear of external judgement, “What will people say if I do X?” What if people say “Who do they think they are?” 

Often the cruelest and most powerful judge is our own inner critic, holding us back to keep us “safe”, maintain the status quo rather than approaching the new mode of existence.

Ikigai and a Second Life

This new mode of existence, a renewed ikigai, can reveal itself at any time. It can be a nagging thought, a recurrent call to action or a lightening bolt upon having a new experience. And it can come at any age. It is very powerful to find role models of people in the public eye or in your community who have shifted their Ikigai at different stages of life. 

Ikigai and Internal Alignment

The main message from Kamiya is that those who are faithful to their Ikigai are able to live in alignment with themselves. 

Ikigai can be  a source of contentment and can drive your actions in a meaningful way regardless of your situation.

How are you faithful to your Ikigai?

Where are ways that you are and are not?

How can you find more integration of your Ikigai in each day, each decision, each action?

Stop saying this, right now

#newnormal #lockdown #wfh – COVID-19 has given us a host of new hashtags and vocabulary to deal with what is going on. But there is one phrase that drives me up the wall….

“In Real Life”

If I hear another person on an online meeting say “in real life” when talking about meeting people face to face, I am going to scream.

Let me tell you, when I see you in “real life”, I will grab you by the shoulders and give you a good shake and remind you,

This…. is…. all…. real…. life.

Whether you are chatting over Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, Google Meet, Facebook Rooms or, heaven forbid, our old friend Skype, it is all REAL LIFE.

Don’t be fooled by the “virtual” team jargon. These aren’t avatars. It isn’t a game. Those little boxes represent real humans, with the same fears, hopes and dreams that they always had.

Your words still have impact. The decisions you make still matter.

This is real life.

I’d argue it is more “real” than it has ever been. Limitations on movement and freedom make us look in on ourselves. What do I really value? How do I want to show up? Who do I want to spend time with? What matters to me?

What do I suggest instead? How about “When we are… face to face/in the flesh/at the office/ meeting offline (for a bit of buzzword bingo!).. let’s do X”

(Side note for buzzword bingo fans: We can no longer say “Let’s take this offline” There is no “offline” to take it. And actually, what “Let’s take this offline” really means is “Let’s stop talking about this in front of everyone. Either the topic is making me uncomfortable or you are being an ass. I will placate you by saying we will talk about it later but, yeah, we probably won’t.”

So, stop saying “In Real Life”. Everything that is happening in all your online communications is very real and very powerful.

(Unless you believe we are all in The Matrix… that’s a whole other post!)