My Ikigai Journey: from slipped disc to jumping out of bed

So how did this lass from Bury, in the north west of England, become so interested in this Japanese concept of Ikigai?

Of course, moving to Japan in 1999 with proximity to the culture would be a simple explanation but I did not become aware of the concept until 2017. It was only after I discovered my Ikigai that I discovered Ikigai.

I wish I had known about it in 2015. It really was my “annus horribilis”.

The year began with me laid up in bed with a slipped disc. Agony whatever I did, unable to lie comfortably or move around, unable to take care of my family or commute on a crowded train to Tokyo to go to work. I could not sit or stand.  Lying down was not even that much respite. I endured some terrible physio that probably made the issue worse before I asked around locally and finally found someone who could help.

But during these weeks as I struggled with pain and felt let down by my body for the first time in my adult life, I started to sink into depression. I cried when I could not carry my infant son, or even do simple jobs around the house, I could not play with or comfort my daughter. There were no more impromptu dance parties, tickle fights or circus skills. I was never a great cook but now the act of shopping, cooking and cleaning up was more than I could handle.

Who was I as a mother?

So to my husband. He had to take on all the caregiving, as well as his full time job. As a Japanese salaryman, even at an enlightened company, the fact that he could not do overtime every day was beginning to take its toll. And as for intimacy…well, that was very far from my mind.  And not only in the physical sense. I had no energy to listen to his troubles, no fire in my heart to support and cheer him on. I was locked in my own suffering and frustration.

Who was I as a wife and partner?

And then my work. Truth be told,  I was glad not to have the commute. Something had shifted in my engagement and satisfaction. I had been with my company since 2004. They were challenging but enjoyable years. However, after my second maternity leave I came back to a different job, with a different boss. And to be frank, I was underperforming in my role. I had no fire in my belly for the work. More importantly  for the first time in my career I did not feel a sense of belonging and camaraderie with the people on my team. I could not see where the role would take me.

Who was I in my career? What was my role in the firm?

In the key places where I defined my identity,  (mother, wife, professional),  I felt a failure. I felt I had nothing to offer.

There were a few bright spots.  I had an incredibly supportive network of women through my leadership of a Lean In Circle, a peer to peer networking group, that I founded in Tokyo. I also had the camaraderie of my local running group although obviously running was off the cards during this period.

With perfect 20:20 hindsight, I see that the slipped disc was a great way of getting me to slow down. I was forced to take stock of my life and what I valued. 

The slipped disc was certainly a real issue. I have the MRI scans to prove it. I can’t help but think that I was sending myself a warning. Something had broken inside me and I could not get out. Be warned, gentle reader, that I will talk a LOT about listening to your body. The signs that our parasympathetic nervous system sends us are an incredibly valuable message.

Then slowly, slowly, the pain relief started to work. I was able to return to “normal” life and pick up all those roles again. But the seed had been planted and the nagging thought in my mind was there.

“Without these things, these roles that I thought defined me, who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose?”

Big questions with no easy answers. And as a harried working mum with a young family, they were questions that were easy to ignore.

Around the time that I started to recover, I had dinner with a friend, Renee. 

“How are things?” she asked. 

“Not so terrible” I said, trying to reframe my current situation, to put it in perspective of my #firstworldproblems. I wanted to remind my self that in the great scheme of humanity that as an Oxford educated, white woman in a white collar job in Tokyo with a healthy family, a lovely house and many options and support, things were indeed not so terrible.

“But darling, Jen! Not so terrible is not the goal. You deserve more. Everyone does!”

And then it hit me, that I was settling. I started to think about how it was possible to give myself permission to ask for more. It wasn’t greedy or self indulgent to want more and by aiming only for “not so terrible” I was holding myself back. By settling in a role that I wasn’t engaged in, I was also becoming a drain on resources in my firm. I was transforming into the very type of colleague that I most disliked: The safe, the bored, the clock in/ clock out, the ranks of the disengaged. 

Was this the limit of my potential?  Why am I here? What is my purpose?

Around the time of this dinner, a couple of other moments of clarity came to me. Once we start to pay attention, the messages start coming thick and fast. Perhaps that is why you are reading this now?

Realizing that I had been sent a wake up call in the form of a shut down of my body, I had decided to take action. I was working with Anne Good,  an executive coach,  and drilling down on these questions of purpose, strengths and life design. On our regular Skype calls, we focused on creating possibilities for potential next steps. I developed awareness of my unique strengths. I met fabulous people with really interesting jobs through informational interviewing. I clawed back the agency and control that I had lost over the last 12 months. I found that I was improving relationships within my team, meeting inspiring people with interesting stories and leaning into what I loved.

I attended a speech by Dr. Bob Tobin, author of “What do you want to create today?” and he asked the room “What is your dream?” And in that question, I had the saddest realization. I don’t have a dream. I can’t see beyond the hamster wheel of my work and family life. I am coasting, waiting for things to happen to me. I could not believe it but the truth was staring me in the face. I had given up on the idea of hopes and dreams for myself.

And yet, and yet… I started to see something, a power and presence in me that emerged when I was facilitating the LeanIn Circle. There was a monthly moment of flow. It was during those meetings that I felt the most energized.  The most useful. The most me.

From these insights about strengths, possibility, dreams and flow, a new perspective emerged. There might be something else out there for me that could work!

I announced in a session that I wanted to return to L&D and to pursue options in facilitation and coaching. Anne, my coach asked me, “What if you stay in this job and spend the next 6-12 months studying to be a coach?”  

Shudder – it was a  visceral reaction, the churn in my stomach. I may have even been a little sick in my mouth! Overwhelming feelings of dread at the thought of showing up every day and becoming a little more broken each month. 

But then, the practical side of maintaining the status quo held me. What would I do instead? How could I make a living? I was terrified of that too. 

This is where I realized the importance of all those informational interviews. Meeting diverse people who can suggest options of how to live or choices to make that you did not know were possible. I met with Ted Agatsuma, an experienced HR professional who was now working as a consultant. I bemoaned the jobs which I had seen on the market in L&D and Training. 

“I want to be a practitioner, Ted. I want to be in the room with people and see the aha moments with them!

“The only way that is going to happen is if you set up your own company and freelance,” he told me in a very matter of fact way. And just as the words “I can’t set…” started to come out of my mouth, I stopped myself. What if I could? What might it look like?

And from that moment on, it was all systems go. With the support of my family and the promise of paying my half of the mortgage for a year from my husband, I set about planning the launch of my sole proprietorship. 

I had dinner with Ted on February 26th, 2016. Resigned in early May and the business was launched on June 29, 2016 with the help of the first professional I hired, Yasuko Mori, who remains my wonderful and supportive Tax Accountant. 

Looking back on my personal experience,  I see how useful it would have been to use the Ikigai framework. Once I had a clear understanding of what I loved, what I was good at, what I could be paid for and what the world needed, I was able to take action. Once I worked out what would make me jump out of bed rather than battle the pain of a slipped disc, I was able to start moving forwards.

So as I said, It was only after I discovered my Ikigai that I discovered Ikigai.

Lonely old men and ikigai

In November I attended the Mashing Up Conference again. I really love this event because it’s “cool”. It has a casual vibe and is just a bit edgier than your average D&I “empowerment” conference. The team do try to bring some different ideas to the stage as well as some local legends.

I was happy to join two discussions where I could listen to the wry and laser sharp insights of one of those legends, Chizuko Ueno, Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo who used her entrance ceremony speech as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the reality of institutional gender discrimination in Japan. Ueno sensei has an amazing delivery style where she challenges with the sweetest, most innocent question that just stops other panelists in their tracks. It is magic to watch!

In the first session, Ueno sensei talked about the family structure – here is the info from the Mashing Up website.

家族のカタチ2019 – 家族 is the bestという呪縛Family Diversity – Time to Reshape the Family Structure「家族末永く仲良く=素晴らしい」。そんな価値観が強い日本社会で、家族とのつながりに苦しんでいる人がいるのも事実。おひとりさま問題、介護問題、夫婦別姓問題も含めて、家族とはどうあるべきか。そのあり方を問い直します。

“Families that get along forever = wonderful.” This value is strong in Japanese society, but it is also true there are people who are suffering due to their family relationships. What should families be like, including people who are alone, people caring for family members, and husbands and wives having different family names? Those things will be reconsidered.

One idea in particular struck me in relation to my work on Ikigai and creating long and healthy lives worth living.

Talking on the subject of 介護 (elder care), Ueno sensei mentioned that she is hearing many adult children say

“I will look after my mother because I love her. But my father?! No way! I can’t stand him.”

It struck me as such a sad and terrible view. I thought about all the fathers who have been focused on their companies with no time for their families. The result is fathers who are so focused on financially supporting the family that they become alienated from the lack of relationship.

Men’s ikigai and their role in the family

A few weeks ago as part of my Ikigai research, I met with Dr. Akihiro Hasegawa, Associate Professor at Toyo Eiwa University and an ikigai researcher. He told me a similar story. Japanese men who live in multi-generational households with their sons after retirement report a decrease in their ikigai. Dr. Hasegawa explains that this is because their ikigai was so tied up in their self identity as the breadwinner, the head of the household, that when the generational roles shift, they lose their sense of self and purpose. Dr. Hasegawa’s research shows a strong link between having an ikigai and better health, slower onset of dementia and so on.

(As a side note, I asked if there was any impact to living with adult daughters and the answer was no. It seems that the father’s ego can survive that relationship into old age!)

Again, this idea of isolated fathers struck me as so sad and yet also so avoidable if we can change the working style and support people living different types of partnerships at home with an emphasis on family first. Glen Wood is doing a lot to raise awareness on パパハラ(Papa Hara – paternity harassment). It isn’t easy for men to ask for permission to break from the サラリマン salariman stereotype and spend time with their families. But the social and personal costs of isolation in old age for these types of people are no longer sustainable.

What do you think?

How can we start to address this problem? Some efforts are being made at the policy level but what can private enterprises and individuals do to support a healthier and happier second life and what might be the positive impact on society from that.

Why I’m Leaning Out

After 5 years of moderating a monthly Lean In Circle, I’ve made the decision to “lean out” at the end of the month.

For the record, I’m not leaning out because of Michelle Obama, or as part of the pushback on Sheryl Sandberg and her role at Facebook. I’m leaning out because I want to focus on other things (Integrating Ikigai, Points of You), other communities (running club, Spartan Race). Like any leadership role, I feel like I’ve learned what I can learn and I’m ready to transition into something new – a new level of Leaning In, shall we say?

So what did I learn in the 5 years?

1. Are you still learning? If not, move on

I’ve written in detail about my own Lean In journey and reading it now that the decision is made, it is all crystal clear. I was starting not to look forward to every meeting. Sometimes, I felt like I was starting to just dial it in and that was not respectful to others. As soon as I announced I was leaning out, it was like a weight had been lifted. There is also a sense of grief – to give up something that I did love so much and was so tied into my identity.

But sometimes you need to realize that you have graduated from the role, the relationship or the situation. And then, move on.

2. Women do help women

I’ve heard a lot of discussion about women holding other women back, being catty (urgh! What a gendered word!) and competitive with each other. I feel I have been fortunate in my career to only have support from the women around me. (Now I am thinking that maybe it is because I was the bitchy one… I hope not!)

In Lean In Circles, I had an amazing group of peers who only wanted me to achieve my goals. Was it because we all came from different organizations? There was certainly no zero-sum mindset in the room.

It could be because as an all female space, we did not need to resort to association or advocacy based covering. This is where minority groups downplay stigmatized parts of their identity in this case –  avoiding contact with or not sticking up for other women.  We see it when a female leader does not want to be involved in companies D&I programs. It is not because she does not think they are helpful (although that may be part of it!) but, by drawing attention to herself as a woman, she may increase the potential for negative bias.

Women do help women.  A female only space can be a useful place for women to develop confidence and speak openly about their goals and challenges.

3. Fixing the women doesn’t get more women in leadership roles  – fixing your succession planning does

The women who join Lean In Circles are talented and passionate. Each month they share their successes and I see each one of them is growing personally and professionally. And yet, when I announced that I would be leaning out, I wasn’t exactly bombarded with offers to take on moderation of the group. This despite the fact that every regular member contacts me to say thank you and how much the meeting means to them.

This was a failure of my leadership. I did not develop a pipeline of successors. I didn’t earmark people and give them time to get involved.

I thought that I was making it easier for people by taking everything on myself. If I do it all, I reduce the barrier to entry for people to attend. But what I created was a black box – what does it take to run this thing? how does she do it? I became an accidental diminisher of the people in the group.

Fixing the women doesn’t fix the problem of getting more women into leadership roles. You have to fix the leaders to make sure they are taking action about succession and casting the net across all the talent available.

4. Saying “No” to leadership is not always about saying no to leadership

However, on the other side of the coin about Leaning In, I saw a number of women who are strongly creating boundaries, not feeling the pressure to take on extra roles in their already full lives. So instead of assuming that women don’t want to take on leadership roles, how about we look at what they prioritize instead?

In your organization this can be about looking at the other roles that women are expected to take on in the home. Make no mistake these gender-defined roles are alive and well in Japan. And the stereotypes come both from women and men’s expectations of what should be done and by whom. Even as a feminist, I find myself taking on without questioning the roles of being the first port of call for the school. I say it is because as an entrepreneur I have more flexibility in my calendar but I believe there is something deeper going on from a place of bias.

Women are not always saying no to leadership roles because they lack confidence in their competence. Sometimes its just a feeling of overwhelm of the mental burden of wearing so many hats and having so many responsibilities.

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Finally, I’d like to say a big thank you to our venue sponsors who enabled us to keep the meetings free with no barrier to entry. It is very tough to find free meeting space in Tokyo but these organizations supported monthly meetings en world Japan, Michael PageDale Carnegie Japan and Smart Partners K.K

Want to find out more about where you can Lean In?

If you would like to get involved with Lean In activities in Japan, you can connect with the following groups

Lean In Tokyo – Active Japanese language group and the Country Chapter Leader for Lean In in Japan

Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs – will be run by Katheryn Gronauer of Thrive Tokyo

Lean In Tokyo Girls on Fire – taking a hiatus until late summer/ early autumn  but you can request to join the group.

Linked In for Entrepreneur – Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle – July 2018 Event Report

Ah SNS! Which platform? How to optimize? What’s the best SNS for my business? Content marketing is essential as an entrepreneur and at the July 2018 LeanIn Japan Entrepreneurs Meeting we had a deep dive session hosted at LinkedIn Japan’s Tokyo HQ.

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Kaoru Jo and Sayuri Nishimoto from LinkedIn Japan showed us how much Linked In had changed. Whilst yes, of course, there is still a recruitment aspect to the platform, it is taking off as content network where entrepreneurs can build credibility and connections. 2 Million mostly bilingual members in Japan is a great niche to be part of.

It was also great to hear about the Women@LinkedIn initiative helping female professionals in Japan to extend their careers after childcare leave. Very much aligned with the work of the Lean In Japan Creating Change Chapter and the Diversity and Inclusion programmes I run as a facilitator to empower women to develop their careers in Japan.

Main Takeaways

1. Content Creates Connections

There is now 15X more content than job posts on the LinkedIn Feed. Use articles, bilingual posts and be active and helpful in groups to build your credibility. Find out your SSI to know how well your LinkedIn Profile is helping you to sell.

2. Lots of New Linked In Features

LinkedIn Video, Nearby feature and LinkedIn is perfect for networking in Japan. #hashtags also work really well on LinkedIn now!

3. Answer the Public

Not sure what to talk about? Be useful and find out what people want to know about your expert area

4. Check before you delete or accept

 

Most Circle members had received invitations that were completely “random” and sadly sometimes far from professionally appropriate. Before you accept or delete, think about (or even ask directly) what made this person reach out to me? How can we mutually support each other?


Are you an English-speaking  female Entrepreneur in Japan?

If you are an English-speaking, Japan-based female entrepreneur who would like to grow your business, apply online at Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle.

Meetings are held monthly, online on weekday mornings with occasional  hybrid face to face/virtual meet ups in Tokyo.

Upcoming Events

We’ll be taking a break for August but back on from September – date to be announced

 

Celebrate and Innovate

On June 29th, 2018, I’m celebrating the start of my third year in business as a Facilitator and Leadership Coach. I am extremely grateful to my family, community and clients for enabling me to bring so much energy to my work, to help so many individuals improve their own performance as leaders and professionals in Japan. I’m so lucky to have the trust and support of so many wonderful people.

Thank you!

I am intensely focused on working with groups within organisations, developing cross-functional communication and deeper understanding of diverse points of view. I love the passionate discussions, aha moments and feedback about the impact the training had on team performance and relationships.

What has changed in Year 2?

  • I’ve continued to expand my knowledge base – Professional Certified Coach with ICA, Points of You® Certified Trainer, Management 3.0 Fundamentals, Tara Mohr Playing Big Facilitators Course, BerkeleyX: GG101x The Science of Happiness. Constantly learning new ideas to help clients connect the dots.
  • Developed new collaborations with Japanese Facilitators including WinBE (Women In Business Empowerment), Points of You® Japan and fellow independent facilitators.
  • I’ve been able to take on some really interesting clients and projects. I’m really able to focus on work that I am passionate about rather than what pays the mortgage. What a gift!
  • I got hooked on Spartan Racing and completed another 2 races in Japan.

 

What trends have I noticed from corporate clients?

  • Increased desire to support employees through organizational change
  • Focus on creating cultures of open and healthy communication
  • Presenting and influencing others continues to be a highly sought after skillset
  • Maturing of the discussion from diversity as a single-issue gender model to addressing wider issues of inclusion in some clients
  • Developing innovation through inclusion of diverse thought

What can you expect from me in Year 3?

Themes for workshops and support will focus on:

  • Innovation through Inclusion
  • Developing Ikigai within your Organization
  • Resilience during Change
  • Connecting the Unconnected – people, ideas or companies

To support these outcomes, I’ll continue to offer presentation skills, cross-cultural training and Points of You® Practitioner Training. My focus is on developing bite-sized development opportunities with shorter workshop sessions, on the job experiments followed by group coaching and reflection.

I will continue to support work style reform and women’s empowerment in Japan through my CSR activities:

 

Thank you again for being part of the journey. Looking forward to collaborating and learning together.

Please do follow me on Facebook or LinkedIn.  I post articles, videos and event reports regularly about training and development in inclusion, communication and change management in Tokyo.

Sharing Points of You® at the Japan WIN Conference 2018

The Japan WIN conference has a special place in my heart. In 2016 I joined at a special rate for “women in transition” as I was moving from 12 years in a corporate role to begin working on my calling, my ikigai, to use my energy and passion to help people create and communicate change as part of diverse teams. It was at the event at the Shangri-la that I handed out my new meishi for the first time and as I delivered my self intro to over 100 people it can be fair to say that was a large amount of “fake it ’til you make it” tempered with a hefty dose of “imposter syndrome”.

When I realized that the speaker enrollment was open for the 2018 conference I decided that it was time to give back to the conference. thanks to my client testimonials I was selected as a workshop speaker and delivered a session “Rethinking your Strength: Shifting from Capability to Energy”.

Ever since I came upon Marcus Buckingham’s concept that “Strengths aren’t what you are good at. Strengths are what make you feel strong” during a Lean In Circle, I’ve been passionate about the power of doing what gives you energy. I also believe that we have more control about bringing this into our daily life than we may think.

In the 90 minute workshop, participants used cards from Points of You® The Coaching Game, Punctum and Faces to create their “Strengths Photo Album”. As always Points of You® delivered some “unexpected but precise” insights most commonly in hearing others describe their albums – a real view into the blind spot of the Johari Window.

My favourite comment from a participant was “I felt as if the scales had fallen from my eyes”. I have to say that for this to be achieved in 90 minutes makes me so happy as a facilitator and really impressed by how openly the delegates shared their hopes and dreams with others.

There were many great female role models at this event speaking with passion about their chosen topic and as always the Japan WIN conference was a great way to expand a network of like-minded people.

I was happy to see Steven Haynes back at the conference this year. I’m sure its the first time IBM Japan’s Conference  room has had a 100 person conga line!

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Contact me if you would like to offer the “Rethinking your Strength: Shifting from Capability to Energy” workshop in your organization.

Hope to see you at the next Japan WIN Conference!

 

Glimpses of Mindfulness – Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle – February 2018 Event Report

A sign of an engaging meeting where I am full engaged in the present moment  – a complete absence of event photos!

Ann- Katrin Van Schie, Lean In Japan Entrepreneur Circle member, and Holistic Wellness Coach and Yoga Instructor from At Ease, led 4 other members online via Zoom and face to face at Smart Partners K.K.‘s offices in Kinshicho. I managed to grab a selfie of the Tokyo attendees as we left!

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We worked on simple ways to bring glimpses of calm into our day, to find special moments to reset. These are as simple as grinding your own coffee, to focusing on belly breathing, facial massage, use of aroma, using an app like Headspace and so on.

The Circle also discussed the TED Talk “How to Make Stress Your Friend”. The most surprising takeaway from the video was that stress can be seen as a sign of your body rising to the upcoming challenge. Your heightened adrenaline and awareness is your body adjusting to the situation. With this in mind how can you embrace stress as a positive?

Did you also know that stress releases oxytocin? I know! Isn’t that our happiness hormone? Mind blown! That is why we feel the need to connect with loved ones when we are stressed. Having a support group like a Lean In Circle has been a huge help for me to feel connected as a solo business owner. Who is in your support network?

Many thanks to Ann-Katrin for helping us to create ease in our busy entrepreneurial lives!


Are you an English-speaking  female Entrepreneur in Japan?

If you are an English-speaking, Japan-based female entrepreneur who would like to grow your business, apply online at Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle.

Meetings are held monthly, online on weekday mornings with occasional  hybrid face to face/virtual meet ups in Tokyo.

Upcoming Events

2018 – 3/20, 4/19, 5/23, 6,21 (F2F), 7/17

 

Practice Patience Judo – Lean In Tokyo Girls on Fire February 2018 – Event Report

“Patience Judo”? What on earth is that?

In her book, Drop the Ball, Tiffany Dufu talks about its importance when you start to delegate tasks to others.

“We quickly grow impatient when things on our to-do list aren’t done the way we think they should be done.”

She shared the research that when men were asked to do the dishes by their partner, 30% “did it wrong” and 25% were never asked again!

Being able to create space for you to do the work that only you can do, requires you to let go of some control. It’s hard but necessary.

Personally, my challenge for delegation is not just about quality, but also about having things done on my time-frame. I recently created a holding list, “Waiting for DH”, for tasks around the  house which my husband is responsible for. I’ve given myself permission not to worry about them anymore!

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At the February 2018 Tokyo Girls on Fire Lean In Circle, 10 professional women from Australia, China, Columbia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, UK and US, shared our life hacks to get more of our goals achieved, rather than just ticking off items on our to-do lists.

It requires taking a good hard look at what you can do. Last year the Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle covered the same material (Read the Event Report here). The main difference with this circle was really focusing on outsourcing and the need to train team members to be able to take on more responsibility.

We also celebrated a promotion, a first trip to global HQ, successful job change, Professional certification and a new baby. It’s always inspiring to see how much these women are achieving in their careers.

Follow Jennifer Shinkai Coaching on Facebook for up-coming event information.


 

Are you an English-speaking professional woman in Tokyo? Request to join our circle or follow Jennifer Shinkai Coaching on Facebook for up-coming event information.

2017/18 Meeting Dates
Generally held on the 3rd Wednesday of the month, 7pm to 9pm at Dale Carnegie Japan. Meetings are free unless otherwise stated.

2018 3/28, 4/18, 5/16, 6/20, 7/18

Would you like to join an English Speaking Lean In Circle in Japan?

Request to join the Lean In Japan Creating Change Chapter and we will set up a call to decide which circle is best for your needs.

 

Don’t accept the default – Lean In Tokyo GOF November 2017 Event Report

10 Lean In Tokyo Girls on Fire Circle members from Australia, Columbia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the US and the UK met in November 2017 to get in touch with their creative sides with Adam Grant’s TED Talk, “The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers” as the launching point of our discussion.

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With Lean In members from financial services, government institutions, luxury, legal and even a current university student, many people didn’t feel they had much chance to be creative on a daily basis. However, it became clear that we don’t need to be in a traditional “creative” role to be original thinkers. Indeed, many of us bring original solutions to our businesses every day.

A Points of You Ice breaker got us all talking about creativity and thinking about what opportunities we have to be creative at work. We shared our ideas on how to break out of some status quo situations by using creative doubt and pitched our ideas to each other.

Key Takeaways

“What you call procrastinating, I call thinking”

Allowing your idea to marinate a little is not always a bad thing. Just make sure you are not hiding by designing at the whiteboard!

“You don’t need to be first, but you do need to be better”

There is a lot of hype about hustle and first on the market advantage but Grant mentions examples of successful ideas that weren’t necessarily first but were an improvement on existing solutions. This iterative improvement is something that seems to be in the business DNA in Japan. Get someone else to take the risk, push the envelope and then kaizen it to perfection!

 

“People who achieve the most are also the ones who fail the most”

It was interesting to discuss this as mostly foreign women working in Japan. Sometimes we feel we can take more risks than our Japanese colleagues due to our “outsider” status. However, this can also make it difficult to build the social capital around an idea to get it to take root in an organization.

Don’t accept the default

In Grant’s TED talk he highlighted the most original thinkers are those who use Chrome or Firefox? Why? Because they don’t accept the default – they ask questions and go to an extra effort to find and then install the best solution. Wonderful example of questioning the status quo! What “straight out of the box defaults” have you accepted?

Why shouldn’t people support your idea?

Acknowledging the potential downsides up front can clear people’s negative thoughts out of the way and leave them more open to your solution.

 


 

Are you an English-speaking professional woman in Tokyo? Request to join our circle or follow Jennifer Shinkai Coaching on Facebook for up-coming event information.

2017/18 Meeting Dates
Generally held on the 3rd Wednesday of the month  7pm to 9pm at Dale Carnegie Japan. Meetings are free unless otherwise stated.

2018 1/17, 2/21, 3/21, 4/18, 5/16, 6/20, 7/18

Would you like to join an English Speaking Lean In Circle in Japan?

Request to join the Lean In Japan Creating Change Chapter and we will set up a call to decide which circle is best for your needs.

 

 

What is it that only you can do?

As entrepreneurs in the start up phase of business, many Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle members struggle with the feeling of “having to do it all”.  Weird guilt about how it is somehow cheating to outsource, to delegate or simply being worried about cash flow stop us from using a vendor!

In the October Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle meeting we focused on ways to become more productive by doing more of what matters and less of the stuff that keeps us busy and drains our energy.

It was a refreshing take on the idea that you can drop the ball without guilt. Perhaps you can mindfully throw it someone else, let it bounce away from you safe in the knowledge someone else will pick it up or simply set the ball at your feet ” this is not going to get done and I am fine with that”! 

 

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Lean In Japan Entrepreneur Circle Members October 2017 Zoom Meeting

After discussing the takeaways from the video “Drop the Ball: Doing More of What Matters: Find Your Highest and Best Use” By Tiffany Dufu, Chief Leadership Officer, Levo and author of Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less , the circle got into the practicalities of how to achieve the lofty sounding goal of “finding your highest and best use”

Circle members shared some of their own stories of how they had said no, reprioritised, found work arounds, used vendors to make the mental space and physical time to work on what only they can do.

Be Gone foul to-do list!

The process of writing the list of what really mattered personally and professionally alongside what you wish would just go away was empowering. Very refreshing to say “I just wish that no longer existed!”

Highest and Best Use ranking system

Using Dufu’s method of ranking your “to-do” list reduced mine from 21 items to 13. Being honest with myself there were another 3 to 5 items that I could look into outsourcing in the longer term or getting my family to take more responsibility for.

What remained were highest and best purpose – things only I can do and things that I can do well and easily.

Meeting Takeaways

  1. Make time for more of your highest and best use activities -What are the things that 
    1.  only you can do – skills, political savvy?
    2.  you do very well with little effort?
  2. If you pay a vendor, the job will surely get done…not sit on your to-do list! Circle members recommended 99 designs, fiverr, upwork 
  3. When you are feeling overwhelmed get that “to-do” list ranked and be brutally honest on whether that ball really needs to be being juggled at all!

Join Us!

Register for the Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle to get your invitation.

2017- 12/13 (F2F and Zoom)

2018 – 1/18, 2/21, 3/20 (F2F), 4/19, 5/23, 6,21 (F2F), 7/17

 

If you are an English-speaking, Japan-based female entrepreneur who would like to grow your business, apply online at Lean In Japan Entrepreneurs Circle.