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!)

Just Do It June

Make March Matter Part III: #makemagicinmay 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 a passionate, connected and inspiring community!

What happened in May?

  • Over 190 people in the Facebook group (so close to 200!)
  • 9 Regular Meetings –  Monday Morning Accountability Kick Off, , Friday Evening TGIF Week in Review – We said a gentle goodbye to the Mid-Week Power Hour. The bookends of the start and end of the week are powerful motivators
  • 3 Guest Speaker Content Sessions  – Business Brainstorm for COVID-19 with Guest Jason DeLuca, Make Magic in May Morning Happy Hour – Guest: Nami Ishihara, 3 (More) Science Based Practices for a Meaningful Life with Me, Jennifer Shinkai
  • 12 (!) Virtual Co-working Sessions hosted by member Katheryn Gronauer
  • The state of emergency was lifted in Japan at the end of May which means another transition for our lives and businesses

We will continue into June

The theme for next month (after I read a very interesting #hashtag debate in the group) will be…..

Drumroll please……….:

….

 “Just Do it June”

Just Do It June: Make March Matter Part IV

This month is all about getting stuff done! I was going to go with JFDI June but decided to keep it PG13. Japan at least is lifting some restrictions so we need to navigate how we do business again – what do you want to start doing? What do you want to stop? What do you want to continue? And let’s do it in June!

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 though, I can accept payments via PayPal to jennifer.shinkai@gmail.com. Previous contributions ranged from ¥10,000 to ¥25,000 or an amount of your choice – you choose and entirely optional.


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 

Make Magic in May

Make March Matter Part II: Action in April 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 April?

  • Over 175 people in the Facebook group
  • 12 Regular Meetings –  Monday Morning Accountability Kick Off, Wednesday Afternoon Mid-Week Power Hour, Friday Evening TGIF Week in Review (Average attendance 8-12) Thanks to Katheryn Gronaeur and David Simpson for their guest host support
  • 4 Guest Speaker Content Sessions  – Katheryn Gronauer of Thrive Tokyo talked about Content Strategy, Jess Kortemen talked about Supercharging that Content with SEO, Jennifer Shinkai presented 3 science backed practices to develop your resilience and Tove Kinooka of Global Perspectives shared Ecosystem Mapping
  • 9 Virtual Co-working Sessions hosted by members Katheryn Gronauer, Tracey Northcott and Joy Fuji

We will continue into May after a few days off due to Japan Golden Week (Stay Home Week) holidays. 

The theme for next month (after I read a very interesting #hashtag debate in the group) will be…..

Drumroll please……….:

….

 “Make Magic in May”

I’m excited to see what we can create! Let’s bring lightness, joy and the wisdom of the group to continue facing these challenging times together.

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 though, I can accept payments via PayPal to jennifer.shinkai@gmail.com. Previous contributions ranged from ¥10,000 to ¥25,000 or an amount of your choice – you choose and entirely optional.


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

ICF ACC Online Badge

Delighted to see that the International Coach Federation has started to share certification online.

I’m currently accepting private and executive online coaching clients. We can talk about how to find and then integrate your ikigai (life purpose) and craft a life that brings you joy. We can focus on relationships and improving communications – how to respond instead of react. We can look at ways to develop your skills as an inclusive leader in a global team. It’s up to you! My role as your coach is to help you create better goals and then achieve them.

Set up a free 30 minute coaching discovery call here

Rethinking professionalism during WFH

It’s been a month since the schools closed down in Tokyo. It seems likely that this will be extended into early May. As an entrepreneur working from home is not new to me. If I’m not delivering corporate training, meeting clients or attending events, I work from home.

Working from home with my kids in tow, completely new experience.

Each day I’m learning and adapting as I’m sure you and your team are. Early in March I found myself getting super stressed when my kids would be around during a conference call. What if my clients don’t think I am professional?

I realised though that this tension was impacting my presence on the call. I was so anxious about possible distractions that I was not focused. I was listening out for any sign of an imminent yelp or too loud burst of laughter.

It was whilst recording the Small Business in Japan podcast that I decided to change my approach.

When my son decided to jump into the shot only in his pajama pants, I just gave up! The whole situation was too ridiculous that I had to laugh. Thank goodness it is an audio not video podcast!

When you listen to the podcast you can also hear that Josh Smith has applied some music to the recording. It’s there to drown out the indoor table tennis tournament and the sounds of my kids getting over excited during the making of the Lego Harry Potter Hogwarts Great Hall that I panic bought after the schools were closed.

So this is my rethink about professionalism when working from home with kids.

  • It is professional to be present.
  • It is professional to be accepting.
  • It is professional to be understanding.
  • It is professional to be human.

According to Google’s Project Aristotle Research :

The most significant element of team success is what’s known as psychological safety: a culture of trust where people feel safe to speak up, take risks, and know that they won’t be ridiculed for making mistakes or dissenting.

https://rework.withgoogle.com/print/guides/5721312655835136/

Whilst you and your team are adapting to new circumstances, allow people to make mistakes, to be less than “perfect” and apply a new perspective to what “professional” means.

You can listen to the Small Business Japan Podcast here Keep your ears peeled for the musical interludes!

Shiawase2020シンポジウム –  Online, Japanese, Co-facilitation!

Early in 2020 I decided to support the Points of You® Japan Tribe by volunteering to be a facilitator at the annual Shiawase2020シンポジウム. I was excited to co-facilitate and introduce Points of You® to a new audience of people and to talk about happiness. And to do all this with a monolingual Japanese team would be a new challenge for me as I often work in a bilingual environment.

Of course, in early March we got the announcement that the session would move online. Points of You® is very much about creating full body experiences. We use sight, sound, smell and touch (maybe taste in the snacks on a longer session?!) How would we bring that to 80 minutes online? It was time for rapid prototyping and innovation.

Analogue and Digital set up! Remember to raise your camera to show your whole face

I had already begun experimenting with online sessions using the Points of You Online tool running sessions about resilience so had some sense that the human connection could still be made and powerful coaching works online. Through open communication within the team of facilitators, a great idea emerged to really make a simple, clear and powerful workshop to work online. It was amazing to see the attention to detail, the commitment and devotion of the team

We surprised ourselves with 3 core ideas of Points of You®:
Breaking patterns with quick skill development
Open hearts for learning and sharing
Creating a sense of belonging in our virtual team and virtual workshop

Whilst I love the use of all the senses at a F2F workshop, we really created a powerful journey online to talk about happiness. Very refreshing in these challenging times! I could feel my ikigai reigniting as I connected with the people in the virtual room!