Finding Focus

I’m sitting in Tully’s with the purpose of writing this post on my calendar. I’ve been here for 40 minutes and variously scrolled through linkedin, facebook and email and LINE. My mind is jumping around and I’m finding Focus elusive. Two men near me are talking loudly and whilst I can tune out their conversation the voices pull me out of focus.

When I think of focus it brings images of productivity, laser-sharp, relentless drive to be the best at something, to deliver on one thing. It’s GaryVee and endless hustle. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of GaryVee’s tough love to tell me to stop making excuses and yet…

There is no space for multitasking, no pinwheel brain, no dips in energy. Always grinding to drive success.

And I start to feel guilty, why don’t I have more self discipline? Why can’t I keep promises to myself and instead focus on external accountability (which can be hard to find as your own boss!)? I download app blockers and then don’t use them. And I start to feel a bit disappointed in myself.

But then I look at productivity rates and realise that long hours doesn’t correlate with innovation and creativity. That forcing an idea tends to squish it rather than giving it space to grow. I’m reminded of the Tim Urban TED Talk “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator“, and my favourite quotation about procrastination:


You call it procrastinating. I call it thinking.”

Aaron Sorkin

On the other side of the hustle of Focus is “Flow”.

Csíkszentmihályi described flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” (Wired Magazine)

I remember feeling a sense of Flow at the WIN Conference, Tokyo, Japan. May 11th 2018. Completely involved in the activity and “in the zone”
Photographer: Elena Tyutina.

Whilst I find myself achieving flow when I am facilitating, writing, and on a good day running, what I lack is the flow between actions. What to do next? Sometimes just the getting started and that is why I find the Points of You® description of Focus so liberating.

What is Focus in Points of You®?

A conscious choice

Now we focus on our most significant insights. We use guiding questions to clarify and define exactly which of the newly discovered possibilities is right for our journey or for the issue at hand.

” A conscious choice” – One of my words for the year is “Intention” (The other is “I’m enough” which came out of my Points of You 5 day training in November 2018). Intention to me is all about conscious choices.

Who do I want to be in this conversation? How do I want to behave in this meeting? What is my intention behind this next action?

When it comes to focus being “a conscious choice”, asking myself which of the opportunities for action is going to bring me closer to my goals and allow me to integrate my ikigai is a useful north star.

See, I even bought a candle with the purpose of upgrading my intention!

It feels like a gift goal, a concept I learnt from Tara Mohr. When I focus only on the shoulds, the burden of social expectation, I reduce my impact. When I do work that feels expansive, luxurious and enriching, I feel closer to my ikigai. I see that I am making the choice that is right for my journey at this time.

In the Points of You® process, usually the most meaningful focus area jumps out at you. The next challenge is to move that focus to action, to “Doing”.

P.S. I wrote the first draft of this post in 20 minutes. Spent longer procrastinating and worrying about what I was going to write about Focus. As a client said this week “Sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty and something beautiful will appear”

Want to find out more about Points of You® Methods?

I’m running two open workshops on July 16th and currently offering Corporate Experiences with Points of You® at a very special rate.
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Expand your perspective

I thought the session using cards was interesting to see differences between people. It helps understand that people have different interpretations and something they look at things which I do not care about.

2019 Points of You Corporate Workshop Participant

One of the most valuable takeaways that I hear as a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant using Points of You® in my workshops, is when participants are able to internalise that there are multiple points of view in any discussion. Of course, most of us comprehend this intellectually but in my workshops I love to see what really internalising this means to participants, especially in terms of applying that back in the workplace.

And diversity of perspective is not just about other people, how can we expand our own point of view? If we approach a challenge or an opportunity with a different world view, can we influence a different outcome?

What is “expanding” in Points of You®?

Countless points of view

Expanding is the second of four stages in the Points of You® method. It is described on the website as follows:

“In this stage we search for the unknown, not knowing where it may lead us. We allow a shift from our familiar comfort zone– to a world of new opportunities, insights and WOW moments. At the end of this stage we know this:
Anything is possible.”

https://freethoughtblogs.com/thoughtsofcrys/2017/03/02/memes-corrected/ – With a commentary about research and how to reduce ambiguity

5 ways to expand your point of view

Below I share 5 ways to expand your point of view, be open to other perspectives and generally give yourself a chance to get unstuck from self-limiting beliefs…all without using Points of You® 😉

1. Do the trusted ten exercise

Then find someone outside your regular group to talk with. Diverse opinions don’t just happen, we have to reach outside our daily experience.

When was the last time you had a decent chat with someone outside your age group, gender, race, sexuality?

Living as a foreigner in Tokyo offers some amazing opportunities to meet people from all over the world and find out about their world view.

Expanding @ Sun and Moon Yoga

2. How fascinating!

In March 2019, when I was presenting about Ikigai at the Gross Global Happiness Conference at UPEACE in Costa Rica, Juan Jose Reyes M.D, Founder of Mindstay, suggested using this reflective statement to approach our reactions to situations. Notice that you are getting annoyed? Feel your teeth clenching? You chest tightening?

Comment to yourself “How fascinating!”

Observe your physical sensations, what is going on? What is happening here? How is this response serving me? How do I want to be in this situation?

Then you can expand your choice of responses based on this awareness of your body.

3. “Thoughts are not facts”

Lean In Japan Entrepreneur member and owner of Quest Tokyo, Kirsten O’Connor, used to remind me of this all the time!

We tell so many stories to ourselves with our interpretations of a perceived slight, a shady glance, a terrible wrong inflicted on us.

During my work with Tara Mohr on her Playing Big Facilitators Training Programme in 2018, we did an excellent activity forcing us to brainstorm 20 possible…as well as ridiculous… interpretations of the facts of a situation. In individual coaching, Tara suggested that the reason my client hadn’t replied to email was not because my work was terrible but because they had fallen hopelessly in love with me and could not be professional around me! This was so ridiculous but also within the realm of the possible (obviously I’m irresistible) that I could at least see that there were ways I could expand my approach

4. Channel Littlefinger

“Sometimes when I try to understand a person’s motives I play a little game. I assume the worst. What’s the worst reason they could possibly have for saying what they say and doing what they do?”

Lord Petyr Baelish, Game of Thrones
Source: Vanity Fair

Regular readers will know that I am a GOT (and Harry Potter) fan, mostly for the “great conversations in elegant rooms” rather than the bloody battle scenes. Whilst Littlefinger is generally not a role model for me, his approach of expanding his response can be useful. As a proponent of positive psychology though, I tend to think, “What’s the best reason they could possibly have for saying what they say and doing what they do?” This positive expansion helps you to focus on opportunities not obstacles…which brings me to….

5. Obstacles as opportunities

Yes, I do love Spartan Races and I’m about to join the next Japan race on July 6th. Obstacle Course Racing is a great way to build resilience and also to practice “expanding”. Not just about muscles but also about your realm of what is possible for you. The self-limiting belief “I’ll never be able to do this!” can quickly be overturned by the realisation you just nailed the spear throw!

Just this morning, I caught myself saying “I don’t trust myself!” as I jumped up to reach a bar. When I changed my self talk and event went so far as to say it out loud “I trust myself” my performance improved. It might be a placebo, it could just be practice but you know what, I’ll take it! Language matters.

Read about my take on all 4 parts of the Points of You® Method. Pause, Expand, Focus, Doing.

Want to try a Points of You® Workshop with Jennifer Shinkai?

Contact me here

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Why Pause?

“Pause” is the first step of the Points of You® Method

Why pause? I know that you are busy, always on and the fact that you are reading this means you are online.

But being “always on” and the cult of “busy-ness” take a toll on your body and your mind.

Take a moment now and breathe in…yes, a big inhalation for the count of 4. Hold your breath for 4.

And now, exhale for 8.

Make your exhalation longer.

Slow down, reset.

Repeat 5 times and ask yourself “How am I?” What are you feeling in your body? How is that feeling impacting those around you? Can you shift your focus and approach your next interaction differently?

How to integrate a daily pause?

It doesn’t need to be a 30 minute meditation or a mindfulness practice. You don’t need a darkened room, a yoga soundtrack or a tibetan chime. (although these are lovely and I’m a huge fan of the headspace app for guided meditation and a whole suite of mindfulness offerings)

I use a short pause before a meeting or a workshop begins, as I shift from being entrepreneur to caregiver, and before I go to sleep. Taking these moments to check in with myself makes a lot of difference to my approach to my work and to others.

In a workshop, we might listen to music for 7 minutes, focus on the breath or even do 10 star jumps and then check our pulse! Anything that allows you to be in a different state and remove daily distractions helps.

Do you really use a pause in a corporate workshop? Don’t people freak out? Isn’t is a bit touchy feely?

This is such a common question from Corporate clients!

On the contrary, now I’ve delivered Points of You® workshops in so many different settings with sales people, engineers, operations staff, new hires and global leaders, I see that it is so essential to get people ready to be creative, to look for a different approach from the default.

One of the most valuable moments is the few seconds after the Pause where I see that people’s faces have become softer, they are relaxed and ready to take risks, share their experiences. Giving permission to “just be” for a few moments really enables participants to shed a layer of resistance and focus on what is important to them as an outcome for the workshop.

Want to find out more about Points of You® Methods?

I’m running two open workshops on July 16th and currently offering Corporate Experiences with Points of You® at a very special rate.
July 16th Open Courses on Peatix
Corporate Experiences