No Regrets November

Make March Matter Part VIII: #OMGOctober wraps up

This free online community was created on February 27th, 2020 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 October?

  • The biggest OMG moment! Make March Matter is a nominee for the BCCJ British Business Awards 2020 Responsible Business Award. So proud of our community for grass roots practical and mental support for small business owners in this challenging year,
  • Over 220 people in the Facebook group . Our doors are always open to new members who need support and community.
  • 1 face to face socially distanced lunch for Tokyo members – wonderful to see people in 3D. Thanks to Phil Robertson from Honyaku Plus for recommending the terrace at Bebu where we could enjoy mask free eating al fresco.
  • 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. We also had an entertaining Hallowe’en dress up where Kristen Quillan at Drawing Meditations won the unofficial best costume award as a non-scary clown
  • 3 Guest Speaker Content Sessions:
  • 3 Virtual Co-working Sessions hosted by Katheryn Gronauer and Jennifer Shinkai. We also held our first 50/20/50 Focus Finder session. I plan to do one at the start of each quarter.

We will continue into November!

The theme for next month will be…..

Drumroll please……….:

….

 “No Regrets November”

Why?

After a very active and entertaining call-in to the group for ideas, two favourites emerged for a hotly contested Hallowe’en poll.

Nurturing November got unlucky with 13 votes but I think it resonated as it focuses on kindness to ourselves and our client pipeline.

But No Regrets November won out with 16 votes. Here’s what it means to me:

  1. Just two more months of 2020 left: What are the things that you promised you would do? Can you achieve them in the next 60 days? Perhaps you can tap into the energy of the Unbreakable 90 Day Focus Challenge – which I in my full on Harry Potter fan mode call “The Unbreakable Vow”.
  2. No Regrets – say “yes” to something new, so “no” to something no serving you anymore. Make mistakes and explore the learning. Make a big ask of someone and be ok with whatever the answer is. But whatever you do don’t regret it. What is regret? My good friend etymologyonline.com tells us this
    • “to look back with distress or sorrowful longing; to grieve for on remembering,” late 14c., from Old French regreter “long after, bewail, lament someone’s death; ask the help of” (Modern French regretter), from re-, intensive prefix (see re-), + -greter, possibly from Frankish or some other Germanic source (compare Old English grætan “to weep;” Old Norse grata “to weep, groan”), from Proto-Germanic *gretan “weep.”
OMG October: Make March Matter Part VIII

November Guest Speakers Announcement

You can follow all our events here

How Many Clients? A fireside chat with Maya Ileto, Angela Ortiz and Jennifer Shinkai Wed November 11
Relationships by Design: Constellations with Sarah Furuya Wed November 18

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

Make March Matter: BBA 2020 Nominee!

From inspiration in the shower the day before the schools closed in February to a thriving, free online community of over 200 small business owners, Make March Matter is a nominee in the Responsible Business Award at the British Business Awards 2020. (Still time to register for the virtual awards ceremony on November 5th!)

This community is a living embodiment of my commitment to UN SDG Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.

“The SDGs promote sustained economic growth, higher levels of productivity and technological innovation. Encouraging entrepreneurship and job creation are key to this, as are effective measures to eradicate forced labour, slavery and human trafficking. With these targets in mind, the goal is to achieve full and productive employment, and decent work, for all women and men by 2030.”

Small businesses make up over 84% of companies in Japan and employ over 10 million people and add 3.57Trillion yen in value to the economy (Read the METI report here).

They have also been the hardest hit by the impact of Coronavirus and are the most vulnerable to restrictions.

It has been my absolute honour to support business owners as they show immense resilience, hope and entrepreneurial spirit to pivot their business and cheer on each other. Make March Matter is a way for me to integrate my Ikigai and I look forward to each encounter with excitement to see what might emerge!

Come and join us over at the Facebook group for regular accountability meetings, virtual co-working and content rich guest speakers – all free and powered by the energy and enthusiasm of our growing and diverse community.

What Martin Eden can teach us about Ikigai

Martin Eden is a 1909 novel by American author Jack London. It was recommended to me by one of my coaching clients, and many times in sessions, he would ask “Have you read Martin Eden?” and then “Have you still not read Martin Eden?”

I hadn’t and for some reason I could not access a print copy (although I just looked on amazon JP and here it is! There is some magic going on here about why I could not get a copy before!) My client said that it had really influenced him when he was younger and continued to influence him to this day. I was intrigued by what he had to say, but just couldn’t get a copy.

After almost 2 years of coaching, my client announced that the big day had finally come. He was being transferred from Tokyo to Dubai, and as a farewell gift, he promised me a copy of Martin Eden. He also tried to find a copy in print and could not. Then, in the most beautiful gesture, he gave me his beloved copy. It has traveled around the world with him. It’s so meaningful to receive a pre-loved book. Complete with a few pencilled notes, it’s a bit battered, smells wonderful, and is totally unique. I’ll admit, it must’ve been dusty in the boardroom or perhaps it was allergies? Not a dry eye in the house…

So as well as imagining my client as a young man when he read this and remembering the context of the coaching sessions when he shared incidents that were meaningful for him, I also saw many parallels about the concept of Ikigai.

Martin Eden meets a girl, that’s how so many great books start right? I need to say “spoiler alert” from now on!

When your lover is your Ikigai

He meets a girl. He sees a different type of life for himself, and he starts to educate himself. He’s a sailor, a working class boy and decides he wants to go after this middle -class girl, Ruth. So Ruth, for a while, is the object of his Ikigai, his reason for living. She is his reason for doing everything. He betters himself so that he can come her exalted world and be with her.

Through this course of education, he discovers a love for writing, for creativity and he is producing this work. He also sees a business chance to earn good money based on what he reads in magazines. But, of course, the path to success is not smooth and he receives rejection after rejection. There’s a lot of discussion around that, the challenges of creativity, the challenges of getting recognition, the soul crushing experience of repeated rejection.

But through this journey, Ruth is always very much the North Star. Eden’s reason for getting out of bed is so he can be good enough for her. He faces a lot of criticism from people around him to get a job, get a position, stop this messing around with writing. He’s often living in extreme poverty. He’s losing weight. His clothes are in the pawn shop. He’s in debt with no more creditors and Ruth is this terrible middle-class bourgeoisie girl who has no idea about his struggles. She just keeps saying “come and work for Daddy”. Whilst he believes in her and himself she has no concept of what he’s really doing with her as the object of his Ikigai.

When work turns you from man to beast

There’s a shift at one point in the story where Eden gets a job in a laundry. He’s had enough of the creative struggle and says, “I need to make money. I don’t want to go sailing again.” There is a really amazing description about the transformation that overcomes him with this work. He becomes a beast of a man. He’s so exhausted from the constant machine and the speed. He works and works and works and then they’d go out and obliterate themselves on a Saturday night, come back to work on Monday. Plus ca change, Tokyo in the 21st century.

Alcohol allows him to separate from himself. To not be part of the machine. To escape from the physically challenging, mentally challenging, exhausting work. Through this experience of this endless work where you think you’re done, and then another bag of fancy starch comes in. It’s just not sustainable. Martin quits. Joe (his boss) quits to become a hobo. Martin goes back to his writing. Reading this segment from over 100 years ago really resonated with some of the stories of my clients and how they feel about their work. When your day job takes so much out of you that you can’t even live on the weekend, something is broken. There is more to life than this. What choices are you willing to make?

When your Ikigai betrays you

Later in the book Eden’s fortunes change and he finds wealth and fame. And of course the people who shunned him now court him. And his ikigai crumbles.

He realizes how fake fame is, how fake recognition is, how nobody cared for him with the work that he had already done, how nobody invited him for dinner when he was penniless. And finally (I was screaming “YES!” internally) there’s a rejection of Ruth. He finally realizes, thank goodness that he was just in love with an image of her. It wasn’t the real woman, it was the idea of her. So his object of his ikigai proved false.

And with this loss of ikigai, Eden literally has no reason to get out of bed. He cannot see the purpose of his life. He has everything he said he wanted. He has recognition for the things that he produced. The woman he loved says, “I’ll have you now.”

But her realises it’s just empty and fake. He feels that this object of his Ikigai, his focus on why he was alive, what drove him, is ultimately meaningless. And he is so exhausted that he is not able to find a new Ikigai. All his energy and life force is gone. The focus on a single idea of a possible future meant that he could hardly draw pleasure in the present and then by the time he realised the expected outcome, he had no ikigai left.

Why you need a reason to get out of bed

It reminded me that this concept of having a reason to live is so important. And that also we need to remember the journey is the goal. When we get “there” it might not be what we imagined.

At the end of the book, Eden is tired of life. He no longer has the capacity for joy, he can’t see any hope. It’s heartbreaking and a such a waste of a talented soul.

I don’t want that for anyone in my life. I want people to wake up with a reason to do what they’re doing, to feel they are valued for who they are, to feel loved, to love, and to have the joy of creating something. That doesn’t mean painting a picture or writing a book. It means by being in the world, merely by existing, you’re making a difference to somebody’s life.

I thought that “Martin Eden” raised a lot of interesting ideas about Ikigai, about our purpose, how we choose to live, the stories that we tell.

So my invitation is to think about what drives you. What would happen if you felt that it was suddenly false? How would you handle that “betrayal” of your ideal? Would you put something else in its place? Would you carry on ahead with no different ideas? Or would you say, “Okay, done.”

Need help?

If you need someone to talk to, reach out to a TELL https://telljp.com/lifeline/

Every day for 45 years TELL Lifeline has been providing important connections and support to people all across Japan. We save lives.

LifeLine
03-5774-0992
(9am – 11pm every day)

How I became an Expert thanks to COVID-19

A Points of You® L3 Expert that is!

Am I not already an Expert? Returning to the source!

With new global standards, comes recertification. I had already done a lot of practice and had a Japan certification that allowed me to deliver 3 day certification programmes. I thought that I was done and could continue with delivery and designing my own workshops with Points of You and then, bam, in 2019 the Academy was launched.

And the Points of You® Academy is a good thing! Please don’t get me wrong! It’s really changed the quality of the experience for participants. It has created a way for participants around the world to have a unified experience of the methodology of Points of You®: how to use the tools, how to create workshops, and to really get a standardized version of what the brand experience is all about. There is still freedom for the facilitator to bring their personality and their own stories, but really the Academy gives everyone in the community a basic understanding at the same level. It’s great to feel connected and know that from Tokyo to Toronto we are sharing the same experience. And as a former marketer, I really see the push from a brand equity perspective!

After the Academy was launched, of course, I took the live sessions of the L1 Hello Points in Japanese. I joined the 2 day L2 Creative Practice programme in Japanese. Completed my practice sessions for that and could call myself a “Practitioner” and deliver L1 6 hour workshop. Then the requirement for the L3 level was shared and I realised that I need to do another 18 hours of practice workshops.

A Herculean task?

So it is about October 2019 and somehow I have to figure out how to do the following three times each for 6 different workshops

  • get groups of a least 6 people who would not be potential L2 Creative Practice participants
  • English speaking
  • face to face
  • during the daytime (evenings and weekends are family time)
  • in a spacious meeting room that I can get for free for at least 3 hours!

It doesn’t sound so challenging but add that I am running a business, raising a family and you know… living life!

Some of the contents I see how they can work with my clients as stand alone experiences. But for some of the other processes, it’s a little bit difficult to see how people unfamiliar with the tools can just jump in. Some of the processes are quite deep and complex, and not that entry-level friendly. It is, after all, the Level 2 program.

I had done a couple of sessions with different clients, the “My Life’s Wishlist” and “The Potential Me”. These are two fabulous workshops. I really enjoy them as a way to get people thinking about their experiences and their potential. Through sharing with a partner you get new insights. Alo lots of great internal networking if you run this in organizations.

I also delivered My Life’s Wishlist to a select group of high potentials at one of my clients. I really think this is a magical workshop. Personally, many of the things that I’ve had on My Life’s Wishlist have been achieved. I’ve heard from past participants that yes, they have had success with what they have committed to. The process of dreaming big, imagining the end state and then drilling down on what’s going to help you, what’s going to stand in your way, and then having your time “on stage” makes this process just brilliant and, as I mentioned, it has some strange magical power….

But it’s the end of 2019 and I have done 3 of the 18 workshops… going to be a loooooong road ahead.

Thanks COVID!

No, actually, really. Thanks COVID!

Fast forward into 2020. Yeah, I think you know where this story is going. Of course COVID-19 hit and face-to-face workshops weren’t really an option. Not really even a possibility from a safety perspective, an interest perspective. Just gathering people together was tough.

And it was around this timing in spring 2020, I’m very happy to say, that Points of You® headquarters in Israel did a great pivot and said, “How can we continue to develop these tools and to share the Academy programs in an online form?”

They knew that face-to-face workshops weren’t happening, but still the insights and breakthroughs that all of the L1 and L2 Academy programs allow people to have are really important, especially in the time of a pandemic, especially in crisis, as we look to develop our resilience. So HQ decided to restructure the L1 and L2 and to an online program.

And that also meant that we could do our practice of the sessions online as well!

And it really has been a “Thanks, COVID,” moment for me, because through doing the programs online, I have been able to connect two Points of You® Tribe members from around the world. It’s been amazing to have people from Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, North Macedonia, Greece, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hungary, Croatia and America. So many different countries and cultures have been represented. It really has been an unexpected joy of 2020.

And it’s been fabulous to see how well the processes, the tools, and the ideas connect all these humans together. The things that we have in common is that we all speak English and that we all have interest in Points of You® for professional or personal development.

In these practice sessions we’ve connected despite our different country backgrounds, different ages, different genders, different family situations. Each session has felt so much connection, so much love, and just a great feeling of joy and gratitude to be the person who brought these people into this space. Even though you will hear me complain many times about how buggy Facebook events are as an organiser, I was really grateful for social media in this timing as well. It allowed me to easily connect to these people all over the world.

Points of You® headquarters has created these great and active groups where we can freely share our offerings with other community members from Points of You as well. Truly the spririt of “Pay it Forward”.

What did I learn as an online facilitator?

What I learned through the process as an online facilitator is that, most importantly, you can create powerful connection in an online environment. We mostly did the workshops, or using Zoom with breakout rooms. People want to talk, they want to connect, so let them. Cameras on, mute off, get involved, speak up.

I also remembered the power of the Pause. Super important in this always online world. Many of my clients are coming straight from another meeting into a workshop. There needs to be a moment to arrive, whether it’s three mindful breaths, a head, heart, stomach, check-in, or just asking yourself: Why am I here? Who am I? How am I?

These are really important questions to check in with ourselves on a regular basis, especially in the pandemic situation when we are under constant, low level stress (or high level stress depending on your role and your current situation).

I faced a personal practical challenge during this journey: holding the space. When I am facilitating a workshop in a room, I can see what is happening. I can observe the participants’ reactions, where they are in their journey, what they’re struggling with, laughter, tears, confusion, aha moments. I can observe all of these things.

But in an online session when a lot of interactions are happening in the breakout rooms, the facilitator experience is really different. If you just virtually pops your head in to the breakout room, you really are interrupting the intimacy of that sharing, and the intimacy of that moment. It’s important that you get comfortable with holding the space in the main room whilst the breakout rooms do their thing. The phrase, “Trust the process,” comes strongly to mind.

An Expert at last!

So now I am delighted to announce that thanks to COVID, I was able to complete my 18 hours of practice at the end of September. I was able to connect with a really wonderful group of Points of You® members from around the world.

I look forward to the opportunity to deliver more work online, and to allow people to get over the fact that online connection is not worse than face-to-face connection. You need to bring openness, a willingness to be vulnerable, a desire to connect in that space. So turn your camera on and start sharing!

OMG October

Make March Matter Part VII: #Seize September wraps up

This free online community was created on February 27th, 2020 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 September?

  • 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.
  • 1 Guest Speaker Content Sessions  –No replay of this but you can catch up on all of the guest sessions video links at Make March Matter – October is going to be a guest fest with 3 speakers almost confirmed! Get your study on!
  • 7 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 October!

The theme for next month will be…..

Drumroll please……….:

….

 “OMG October”

Why?

I was on my run this morning and said “OMG I haven’t planned the theme for next month! The flower will definitely be higanbana (spiderlilies) the harbinger of autumn and cool crisp weather. I’ll save the Japanese maple for November. Right so what are some adjectives that begin with O?” And my mind went blank.

And OMG just felt right so here we go:

  1. OMG Q4 already! 2020 has been marked by a mysterious passing of time where days blend into each other and especially in late Q1, early Q2 I hardly knew what day of the week it was. But here we are Q4 – the last 90 days. We have a great challenge going on in the group called the Unbreakable 90 Day Focus Challenge – which I in my full on Harry Potter fan mode call “The Unbreakable Vow”. It was launched on September 26 and runs until Christmas Eve – but just join in from now and add a few days on at the end. Thanks to Catherine O’Connell at Catherine O’Connell Law for starting the challenge and creating the daily prompts. Also thanks to Kristen Quillan at Drawing Meditations who made a great google file where almost 10 members are tracking their progress. It’s really inspiring to see all the ways that people are tackling the challenge and what their business priorities are.
  2. OMG October! How can you inspire a (positive) OMG reaction in your clients this month? How can you get them to say “OMG, thank you! That is amazing!” “OMG, you solved my problem so quickly!” “OMG I need to refer you to all my network, you are fabulous!” ?
  3. OMG October… my mind is still blank of inspiring”O” adjectives and I like the alliteration and the rhythm. Sometimes, simple is best.
OMG October: Make March Matter Part VIII

October 14th Guest Speaker Announcement

We already have one of three guest speakers confirmed for Wednesday, October 14th 08:30 Reopen & Reinvent your business with Design Thinking – Brittany Arthur

You can follow all our events here – Other Guests coming on Wednesday October 7th 08:30am and Wednesday October 21st 16:30pm JST

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

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?

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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.