Old Enough to Be Bold

Face it, you’re not young anymore. Don’t worry, you’re not old either; you’ve still got a long life ahead of you. But you’ve spent enough time on this earth to get it together and should have a clear – or at least opaque – vision for your future.

It’s not like you’ve got to have everything figured out at this point, but it’s time to take a deep, honest look at your priorities. If you keep wandering down the path of what ifs, hoping for something or someone to intervene and place the answers in your lap, you’ll end up lost. Forever searching in the dark for a light you’ll never find.

This time in life is confusing. It’s a matrix at the edge youthful playfulness and stressful, adult decisions. It’s easy to convince ourselves we’re still ripe with age and don’t need to have all of the next moves calculated. But that night out we used to quickly bounce back from now serves up a day-long headache and harsh reminder that we’re not; and that we kind of do. Not all the moves, per se, but at least enough to establish a solid game plan for the future.

Think about your dream job. Is the one you’re at now a stepping stone to get there? Are you surrounded by co-workers who are empowering you with the skills you’ll need to get through that next door? If not, then walk out of this one and into one that will. You’ll experience a world of difference when you work with a team of people who recognize your talents and encourage you to reach your goals.

Are the people in your life like-minded, positive influences that encourage you to challenge yourself while constantly bringing the best side of you to light? If not, it might be time to let go. As hard as it may be to end a relationship or recognize the final straw in a friendship that only drags you down, one day, you’ll cross paths with people who will help you realize the reasons why those individuals are no longer in your life. And at that point, you’ll finally understand what trust, respect and genuine happiness truly feel like.

You’re still young enough to be bold, but old enough to be wise. Each decision you make has the potential to impact the rest of your story, so approach every single one with caution, passion and an end goal in mind.

Crash Course in Japanese Culture

The 15+ hour flight across the Pacific pond proved to be far more than just the business trip I initially set out to take.  Of course from a professional standpoint, the opportunity to finally meet with a client I’ve been working with virtually for more than eight years was incredible.  In just a few short days our Tokyo colleagues taught us so much about their cultural norms and business practices.  But it wasn’t just those I interacted with directly that taught me something.   It was also those I didn’t meet – those walking down the street on the way to work, those that gave up their seat on the bus so that an older person could sit down.

I walked away from this trip with a greater appreciation for those I know and those I don’t.  There is so much we can learn from a culture that is based upon principles of kindness, politeness and respect.

Listen before you speak.  While the word “Hai” can easily be confused with someone profusely greeting those around them to someone unfamiliar with the language, it actually means yes and it’s a word used very often in Japanese culture.  But just because the word is spoken does not mean it’s a commitment like it is here.  A word that’s not so common? No.  It’s not a phrase you’re likely to hear regularly when conducting business, or even a causal conversation, with someone from Japan.  It can be considered impolite to use a negative word such as “no.”  Contradictory to our impulsive society here in the US where the word is quickly tossed out in response to thoughts and ideas, the Japanese listen and often consult with their teams privately, before making a decision.

Lend a hand to strangers.  Although a major metropolitan area, the streets of Tokyo are not filled with floods of Westerners.  The tourists and business travelers alike were easy to spot.  The natives seemed to keep an eye out for those that were from out of town and in need of guidance.  During our short stays in Tokyo and Kyoto, more than a handful of people stopped what they were doing to approach us with an offer for help and literally guided us to where we wanted to go.  It’s one thing to share directions but these kind souls took time out of their day to walk us to our destination to ensure we safely found our way.  Our colleagues were also quick to educate us on their cultural norms – such as always keeping an eye of the beverages of those you’re with, making sure their drink is never empty – so that we were more comfortable and understanding of the meaning behind their actions.

Don’t stand in the way of others.  Another basic observation that has far more meaning than meets the eye.  Upon exiting the subway or train station (something we did a lot of us the trip), you’ll notice that everyone stands to the side.  Everyone.  In a straight file.  This lets those that need to get through quickly do so without interference.  To me this is symbolic of a culture that is so focused on collectivism and teamwork.  Everyone moves together, instead of individually.  Furthermore, the Japanese recognize that decisions can take time to make and need not be rushed, but there is also great value in innovation and sometimes they must step aside to make way for those that are aiming to move forward faster.

Learn from your elders.  This principle often seems long forgotten here in America.  The Japanese are raised with the understanding that elders are sources of great knowledge and should be honored.  Employees respect their superiors.  Teenagers give up their seats on the bus so that the elderly can have a place to rest.  Though these acts are apparent in the US, they are surely not embedded into and practiced by the young generations.

During our sightseeing trip to the historic city of Kyoto (ranked by Travel and Leisure as the number one city in the world), I learned a lot about the country’s rich history and traditions, but the greatest lessons I learned were from observing the kind people of this extraordinary island nation.

City scape

Night Life

2015-08-21 01.59.50kanp2015-08-22 03.50.252015-08-21 23.13.452015-08-22 03.50.192015-08-22 03.53.022015-08-22 03.57.092015-08-22 05.38.272015-08-22 22.48.44GionFish EyesOur gardenDay 1 Kyoto 5