TGW Home | Podcast | Photos | Travel Tales | Videos | About the Tame | Contact | Japanese |

 


The Daily Mumble has moved!

This is an archive copy only and will no longer be updated.

The new edition can be found at www.tamegoeswild.com/words. Please update your bookmarks.

The feed address has not changed - subscribe here if you're not subscribed already!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Time to grow up?

bogey changing belarus 05
Changing the bogeys - crossing the border from Russia to Belarus, Sep 2007. Photo taken from an adjoining carriage that's also jacked right up.

Listening to Branson's autobiography again today has really hit me hard.

That, and talk with my colleague George (who is rapidly becoming an entrepreneur extraordinaire) regarding several ideas for ventures here in Tokyo that is pushing me to face my fears and get on and do what I need to do.

I've come a long way I know, but I still see myself being held back by a big nagging doubt about whether I can suceed in business or not.

The balance between talk and action in my life is way out. Look at me now. I'm blogging, not acting.

Ok, so I've created a (yet to be launched) website for my venture, but I can feel myself resisting stepping forward and acting to do what's needed in the real world. I tend to do things bit by bit, avoiding looking the plan in the eye, skirting the edges. I've built websites before, I can do that. They're within my comfort zone, no matter what the content (within reason).

By going out there and interviewing people, networking in real life, actually producing something other than a website - this is outside of my comfort zone and the fear is only too apparent.

There's never been a better time for action though. I've met someone who shares my passion for my idea, and will make a great co-producer. As of today I'm hooked up with a couple of entrepreneurial networks (via Linked in), and have been invited to speak at an upcoming event for the sake of furthering my idea / carrying out research.

We have no dependents, we can afford to take risks (within reason) - without some risk nothing will change.

I spoke with *Twinkle* tonight about this strong feeling that things have to change - her reaction was one of delight. 'It's about time you grew up' - exactly what I've been thinking myself all week.

She has been concerned that Joseph would never grow up sufficiently to be a father - she's not said this before, but I'm not surprised. I identify wholly with what she is telling me. (I hope you see the irony following my privious post.

It's time I assert myself. Remain humble and eager to learn from others, but stop kowtowing to fear, and stop thinking that everyone knows better than me.

I desperately want to succeed in the business realm. I'm not motivated by money (although the need for money by those around me does motivate me to a certain extent). I'm motivated by wanting to create something amazing that makes a positive difference to others in some way, by the idea of doing what I love every day, being free to put my precious limited time towards what I consider to be the most important thing that I can put my time towards.

It really is time I grew up.




I'd like to express my thanks to my family, friends and Mumblers who have consistently expressed their belief in my ability to realise my dreams. I invite you to continue to stay tuned and see what happens here over the next 1, 3 and 5 years.

Ok. So let's do it.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, January 26, 2009

Taking positive action to bring about change

As many of you may know, I'm an audiobook junkie. Due to my attitude towards the use of time, reading physical paper and ink books is difficult. I feel uncomfortable using my time in that way. If friends give me books, I start to read them, but usually by the time I reach page twenty I've either decided that the book is not worth my time, or that the book is worth getting on Audible. If an audio version is not available, I either pass the book on, or keep it for those rare occasions when I feel comfortable with the idea of reading.

Anyhow, I'm lucky to have a fellow audiobook junkie here in Tokyo - someone with whom I can swap recommended listens. Recently, he recommended 'Manage your tune, Master your life' by Robin Sharma, a very short audiobook that had helped him make some positive changes. I downloaded it this morning (in addition to Obama's speech which is available for free), and listened to it whilst on the train to the city office.

In brief, Robin points out just how precious our time is, and how important it is that we do not postpone the things that matter most to us. He gives practical advice - one suggestion being to join the 5am club. Having started my own 6am club last week, I can vouch for the amazing difference it makes to have an extra hour in the morning. Whereas many people wake up and find that they are chasing their day before it's even started, if you get up that little bit earlier, you will find that not only can you get a ton of stuff done before the daily routine begins, but also that you entire day will be more orderly and productive. From experience, I'd say that's very true.

Listening to Robin's session today, I was finally compelled to do something that I've been wanting to do for about a month now but have been lacking in courage to face - quit one of my part-time teaching jobs. I love the students (and judging by the emotional scenes tonight the feeling was mutual), and found myself learning a lot through working there. But (as I mentioned last night) I've got other projects that represent my passion, and the feeling of frustration in not being able to make time to pursue them has reached epic proportions.

It was funny though. When I gave them notice this afternoon, I felt compelled to re-write my email and explain why I was quitting, and pass on some of the advice from the audiobook. I talked about 2009 being the Year of Change. I wasn't entirely sure why, I'd only ever exchanged very short emails with them about scheduling. But next thing I knew, the member of staff who deals with foreign teachers was asking me to come in a bit early - they needed to talk to me. It turned out they since last week they have been at exactly the same crossroads as me. There were further emotional scenes.

I think we humans are pretty good at knowing when we're not acting in harmony with spirit. If we practice being in touch, we can tell if a job is no longer in congruence with our true paths. But taking that next step - causing inconvenience and possibly upset, stepping into the unknown in the face of (sometimes strong) opposition from those around us, is incredibly hard sometimes. But it has to be taken if we're to move forward.

I'm glad I took that step today. In the grand scheme of things it was insignificant, but carries a lot of meaning for me as I continue on my journey.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thought on New Years resolutions

ri-kun the tortoise_2245

Ri-kun on the tatami

I finished reading Obama's "The Audacity of Hope" this evening. [Wikipedia] [official site]. The New York Times accurately described it as "much more of a political document. Portions of the volume read like outtakes from a stump speech, and the bulk of it is devoted to laying out Mr. Obama’s policy positions on a host of issues, from education to health care to the war in Iraq."

Whilst it might sound like it would be a right yawn for someone like me who has little interest in politics, I liked it a lot (although admittedly, I did fast-forward through some chapters that in which he talked in detail about the US political process). It served to give me a feel for Obama as a person, and I must say, he seems to be a bloomin' nice chap. I also found myself thinking that I'm like his wife, Michelle, in some ways.

I'm now listening to 'Tribes' by Seth Godin, which focuses upon marketing in the age of Twitter and Facebook. It's received mixed reviews, with some people noting that it just reads like a load of blog posts, that there's nothing new in it and that it lacks depth. All true perhaps, but that doesn't bother me. As someone very much interested in the uses of social networking services in marketing / creating communities / building businesses, I find it fascinating - and inspiring too. There's a fair amount of inspirational stuff in it that can be found in many other 'You can do it' books - but I need to hear this.

I am an ideas person, but I fear putting my ideas into action. Ideas for a publishing company. Ideas for a Penguin business. Every day, lots of ideas.

I think much of this fear stems from a fear of what others may think of me, a fear that is utterly ridiculous and serves no useful purpose in my life - it only holds me back. It kind of p*sses me off really.

I know I've come a long way, but I could do so much better. The fact is that those people who really know me know that I'm a good, trustworthy person - with flaws. Thus, they forgive me my errors in judgement and continue to support me, in return for my support and love of them. I don't need to fear losing those who are precious to me (they include all of my friends).

But what of those who think I'm stupid, misguided or deceitful, and then treat me with contempt? I'm scared of being treated with contempt.

But that's ridiculous. Looking back over the past 15 years or so, I can't think of a single occasion when someone important to me has treated me with genuine contempt. Why do I even entertain these ideas? I'm a good person, I know I am, and I don't need to have these fears.

These past few days I have begun mulling over my New Year's resolutions for 2009. One that I've been considering is 'Action without Fear'.

Crikey. That's a bit scary.

The thing is, there's no point in making such a resolution unless I act on it. That will require a conscious effort on a daily basis. I think if I do adopt it, it will need to be classed as an 'experiment' limited to a period of say, 3 months (long enough to see tangible results?), with regular progress reviews built in. You might think that overkill, but when it comes to things that are uncomfortable and require self-motivated/self-enforced persistence, I need to use all the tools available to me to succeed. (Look at me with my iPhone and Jogging schedule).

I also recognise that I need a tangible goal to aim for. It could be having my photos on public display, generating a certain amount of income from Amway, registering a certain number of artists with Three Seeds - it could include all three, and of course more.

I think 'change' will be the key word for 2009. I, like everyone else on Earth, am afforded the opportunity to change almost any aspect of my life every single day, yet I fail to appreciate that most of the time. I subjugate myself to the status quo - it's easier that way.

But that's not good enough! I have a responsibility to be the best that I can be.

No, I shouldn't need a New Year to make changes, but I don't feel strong enough to act alone at the moment. The calendar will be my ally.

Anyway, it's time for bed. We're having our Christmas Day tomorrow as it's a national holiday (emperor's birthday) - everyone is able to gather at the family home just north of Tokyo. Excited!

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Friday, December 19, 2008

Purpose



My sister Jessie (left) and I, age: quite young

Personally, I'm yet to feel the effects of the global economic slowdown. I've not been made redundant, my salary has not been cut, overtime is still allowed.

But I can feel it's just around the corner. Local redundancies are being announced on a daily basis, and the thinking is that it's just going to get worse. One of my private students was telling me how her company, once reluctant to fire anyone (something that is admittedly pretty difficult to do in Japan - the common method seems to be to bully and pressure people into quitting) has just announced 2000 cuts, with more to come in due course. Whilst the nature of the client base that the English & Chinese education company I work for means that we are not suffering so much from this initial phase of the slowdown, this past week there have been some hints that next year is going to be a tough one.

I'm very much a subscriber to Robert Kiyosaki's idea of there being four main types of people when it comes to income, who together make up the 'Cashflow Quadrant'. They are: E - employees, S - self-employed, B - business owners and I - investors.

(For more on the Cashflow Quadrant get hold of a copy of Kiyosaki's incredibly easy to read bestseller Rich Dad Poor Dad)

I've long had a gut feeling that I don't belong in the 'employee' quadrant, and in such economic conditions as these I find this gut feeling being exceptionally noisy. Seeing people in 'secure' jobs being left high and dry makes me question the sense of placing my future in the hands of an organisation that could let go of its staff at any time, for any number of reasons.

If I was working for the satisfaction that the day-to-day work brings, then it would be no big deal. Whilst I do feel real satisfaction in my day job (and before I go any further, I'd just like to state that as well as enjoying my day job a great deal, I see it as performing a very important and necessary role in my development, and I have no intention of leaving), I have a strong feeling that I'm heading towards a very different role in this world, of which I have only a vague picture at present) (this is aside from any purpose I have to become a better person in a spiritual sense, a journey that continues no matter what I do).

Whilst I am happy that I am able to make a positive impact upon the lives of my students and (to a certain extent) my colleagues, I can't get away from the idea that ultimately, the main purpose of most companies is to provide a good return to the shareholders. These are shareholders of which I know nothing. Who knows what they might choose to invest the profits of my labour in.

Some people might think this is taking things a bit too far, but I don't feel it is. I have a limited time on Earth this time around, and I want to make the most of it. I am happy to invest a few years in doing such things as working for my present company as I'm learning a lot, and teaching is a worthy cause, but I believe that I would feel that I had somehow wasted the precious gift of life were I to remain working for someone else for the rest of my life.

So then there's the S quadrant - self-employed. One thing I've been fortunate to learn second-hand over the past few years is that being self-employed isn't necessarily all it's cracked up to be. For one thing, there's the fact that (for most one-man-show enterprises) if you stop working, your income stops. Then there's the hours. I forget what the stats are, but self-employed people usually work a lot more hours than those in the E quadrant. Having said that, the chances are that the self-employed business owner will get a great deal more satisfaction out of their work than an E. Every hour of work they put in is an hour invested in their own enterprise - an idea which appeals to me a great deal. They are also more likely to be doing what they love (or they probably wouldn't have started that business in the first place!). However, ultimately, the lack of time freedom in the S quadrant does not appeal to me.

Then we move across to the B quadrant - the business owners. These are people whose businesses continue to operate even when they are physically absent. This is where I want to be. This is where I feel I should be putting my energy ...but find the ease with which I can invest in the E quadrant too seductive. Striking out is tough. It's easier to just be told what to do.

The final quadrant - our ultimate financial goal, is the Investment quadrant, whereby the wealth we have created will continue to generate an income in perpetuity, for the causes that we choose. Being socially conditioned, I used to think that people in this quadrant had only got where they were by trampling on others. However, the more wealthy people I meet (here in Japan), the more this stereotype is revealed as being a load of crap. They are by far the most generous, caring and 'normal' people you could hope to meet, and don't give a poop about keeping up appearances. They are generous with both their time and money, and in my book are worthy role models.




These past few weeks I've been making my way through The New Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, an updated version of the classic self-development book. It's very good. Informative, and inspirational. Whilst there's not much in it that you haven't heard somewhere else, the scientific angle is refreshing and convincing.

...and it really gets you thinking - "If I could be the person I really wanted to be, would I be the person I am today?" If the answer is no (as it is with me), then there's clearly a need for action.

It's compelling. Real change doesn't take months of years, it takes a split second - the split second it takes to make the decision to be that person. That person who is fit (or on the road to fitness), that person who owns their own successful business (or is in the process of setting it up), that person who has rich, loving and trusting relationships with all those around them (or is making a concerted effort to build such bonds).

I'm in an incredibly fertile environment that is brimming with opportunity. It's called life, and it's time I took the next step (even if it's only a small step). I'll write about it in due course.

night.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, September 01, 2008

Meeting with my past

It was good to see my brother and his partner in Devon. There hadn’t really been time to catch up at the wedding; it was important we do that before I leave. I’m so glad I made the trip down there.

Likewise with my older sister, whom I met up with here in Bristol at lunchtime. I’m so proud of her doing what she’s doing.

Tonight I’m staying in Garfield Villa, the house I lived in for over a year following my return from Japan in 2003.

It’s funny being back here. The house and its lovely occupants take me back to that time.

I find myself becoming the person I was then. If you’d asked me yesterday if I was very different 5 years ago, I would have said no, not really. But ask me tonight, and the answer is a definite yes, I really have changed.

I actually find it quite disturbing to come face-to-face with the Joseph of five years ago. He’s a bit of an egotistical twat, to put it politely. He was a Joseph who cared a lot about the opinion of others, and actively sought to entertain. I feel he lacked confidence in himself, and sought to hide behind a mask of humour - and enjoyed being seen as a boundary pusher.

This was also the Joseph who desperately wanted a girlfriend, and actively sought a partner using dating websites, and getting close to friends’ friends. He had quite a few disastrous ‘encounters’, all of which become anecdotes told at parties, the bearded farmer one being the most famous.

I’m not ashamed of that Joseph: it was a necessary part of my growth, but I do feel uncomfortable taking on that character now. Reflecting on what happened tonight, I can clearly see just how much I have changed since 2003, how my internal reactions to identical stimuli (separated by time) are very different.

So in a way, it’s comforting. It’s comforting to know that there has been change. But I also feel badness inside that I wasn’t able to assert myself.

It’s also made me wonder what would have happened had I not gone to university, had I not started work on my spiritual life, had I not met *Twinkle*. I think for me, the act of physically moving to different places and meeting many different people, being exposed to different ideas, has contributed an awful lot to my growth. So that begs the question - does growth now take a back seat to financial necessity and the comfort of routine?

Of course not. But I feel that the end of this era of regular ‘forced change’ does mean that I will need to now put in a good deal more effort to actively continue learning and growing. Yes, I think the challenges of living in Japan as a foreigner will to some extent provide fuel for further growth as a matter of course, but that won’t be enough. It’s important that I continue to engage with life on a daily basis, and not get complacent.

I find that idea exciting, yet scary too. Thursday really is a big day. It’s not just a flight to Japan, it’s the start of what I think will be one of the most challenging periods of my life to date.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, August 22, 2008

CELTA, and other means of self-improvement

My lesson today didn't really go as planned. Whilst I think I met my goals as stated on my plan (present models of obligation / no obligation / prohibition and then provide writing practice), I did so in a pretty shoddy manner. Hhm, I may have failed it actually - I'm looking forward to receiving constructive criticism from my supervisor in the morning. It all helps me become a better teacher!

It was a really good experience to go through, sweat though I did at the time. My presentation of the grammar seemed to go on forever - I felt trapped by the way i was going about doing it, and found it hard to move things on.

I have to remember to not be too hard on myself. I've only been teaching in a classroom setting for a total of about 4 hours so far. That's only half a day. Having said that, it's astonishing how much progress has been made in those 4 hours with this intense learning model. Everyone is so much better than when we gave our first lessons two weeks ago.

We've now received our second assignments back (reflective writing, I passed first time this time, hurrah!), and have been given our third assignment, about which I'll tell you more at the weekend, as that's pretty much all I'll be doing :-)

I can't believe we only have a week left. I've grown pretty close to my coursemates, and feel very lucky to have been able to be a part if this with them.

We do all get on remarkably well. Perhaps too well: today there was much hilarity as Alice took a look at the magazine I'd bought to use in my lesson to introduce my students to problem pages. I'd picked Bliss, which is aimed at teenage girls. The man at WHSMITH at London St. Pancreas failed to stifle his laugh when I bought it.

I'd innocently imagined that there would be some problems along the lines of "I fancy this boy at school and don't know what to say to him" and "My dad is an alcoholic - what should I do?"

But no. The questions sent in are pornographic in nature. We're talking a lot of detail, and some pretty bizarre misconceptions. (The only one missing was "can I get pregnant if I French kiss my boyfriend?"

We're all shocked at how things have changed 'since we were young', and imagine the situation whereby I go into class without having checked the suitability of the magazine. References to the problems page pop up in class throughout the rest of the day.




I can scarcely believe that in two weeks from now I'll be flying to Japan to start my new life.

I'm now in week 4 of the second in a series of coaching courses I'm taking with TSI. This one lasts 8 weeks, and consists of weekly written assignments, action steps, and a series of hour-long one-on-one calls.

I'm finding this very beneficial. I'm using it to focus upon career / locating my passion. It's not so much a process designed to make me find 'the answer', but rather, it is helping me to identify the blockages that prevent me from figuring it out in my own time.

I'll keep you informed.

Well, I must sleep now. I can hear the sushi calling 7 hours from now.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, August 09, 2008

CELTA: 25% down, 75% to go

We made it. First week of CELTA complete. 25% down, 75% to go!

The Wikiepdia description is turning out to be spot-on:
The full-time four-week course is very intensive, and students taking it must be prepared to dedicate all their waking hours to it for the duration. Even the part-time version of the course can take up more time than a full-time job for many students, especially those with no teaching background.
The first three days were the toughest. Studying intensively for over 8 hours a day is not something I've ever done before, and my brain felt like it was under siege. So much so that I had to think of a way to give it some relaxation therapy on the way home - if I just did nothing when sitting on the bus it would just be buzzing with the days learning, and aching. First off, I tried the audio book I've been making my way through over the past month (Colin Thurbron - Shadow of the Silk Road), but after two days of that I realised I just kept on tuning out, my brain was complaining about having to process even more data; it was hard work to listen.

Music Therapy

I think it was Wednesday that I remembered the power of music. A few weeks back I'd bought the new Coldplay album, sort-of listened to it once or twice, and then forgotten about it.

Why not revive that? - if it was suitable, I could even turn it into one of those key soundtracks to a distinct period in my life (a technique mentioned halfway through this mumble).

It's turned out to be ideal. With my big headphones on I'm not bothered by the sound of the chatter on the bus, the stress of the shock absorbers when we hit the speed bumps, the squealing of the brakes. The music does not demand my attention, but rather just offers itself as a place that I can relax in. I can drift in and out of it without feeling that I've missed anything.

Just 30 minutes of music therapy after a long day in the classroom sets me up for further study when I get home.

CELTA course classes

We've covered a huge variety of topics during our first week of classes, including: learner styles and levels; needs analysis; lesson planning; many different teaching methods; grammar; ELT resources; error correction; classroom management ...and much much more.

The thing that really strikes me about this course is that we are deliberately being taught how to teach through loop input. That is, our tutors are using the teaching methods on us that we will be using in the classroom (so, in effect, we're kind of getting 80 hours of teaching in a forty hour week!).

Simple example: We might be put into pairs to do a timed brainstorming exercise on aspects of classroom management, followed by a feedback session in which all students are asked to contribute an idea to a table on the whiteboard - in that lesson then we will not only have learnt classroom management techniques, but will also have picked up more ideas on ways in which to elicit information from students / check understanding of meaning.

Sometimes, our tutors will stop at the end of a mini-exercise and ask us things like, "did you notice that I gave you the instructions before handing out the question sheet...?" (students [myself included] often tune out when given a piece of paper - they just have to read it!). In this way, we are being fed a wealth of little tips that will help us make small improvements to our teaching.

Teaching Practice

The hardest aspect so far has been preparing for our teaching practice. It's not that it's been a particularly difficult activity in itself - being week one, we have basically been told what to teach it, and to a large extent, how to teach it. The issue has been time - or a lack of it. Whilst ideally we would be writing lesson plans in the evenings, the exhaustion has left me feeling unable to do much except read sections of my 'How to Teach English' text book, and thus yesterday's (for example) was created between 8am and 9.30am, and then finished off at lunchtime (I think lunchtime for everyone yesterday turned into "Teaching Practice Planning"!). It's a good lesson in the importance of time management for teachers!

This will of course change the more that we do it. At the moment everything is new, and takes a lot longer than usual.

We've now had three Teaching Practice sessions, attended by students from all over the world who are happy to act as guinea pigs in what are for them free English lessons.

The first one was pretty nerve-wracking. It went Ok though, although I did a very poor job of introducing the vocab, and found myself telling a joke which no-one understood (I'm learning though trial-and-error about the extent to which humour can be used - it's always a bit of a gamble. Keep it simple, or avoid it altogether!).

My second class went a lot better, and I actually enjoyed it; I started to find my confidence. The third class (yesterday) was even more fun, despite a section of my lesson plan inadvertently being made redundant by a colleague who, when teaching the session immediately prior to mine, adjusted their plan so that they ended up doing an exercise that I was going to do! I decided that this was an opportunity to learn about the importance of having a plan B, and it seemed to pay off.


Following our final class last night, we popped off down the pub for a celebratory drink - we'd completed our first week! Looking back on it all now, it's great to see the progress we've made. I've not taken an intensive course before, but I'm impressed by just how much can be covered with a well-designed course and dedicated students (who have no life outside of it). It seems to me to be a pretty effective way to learn, and I feel sure now that CELTA is worth every penny of the not-insignificant sum of money invested in it.

Anyway, this weekend I've got an awful lot of homework to do. Reading, lesson planning, oh, and I have my first written assignment too... best get on.

joseph

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Another step towards openness

Being an Apple fan boy, I am very excited about picking up my iPhone in September. I've been finding myself in various situations thinking, "ah, if only I had an iPhone now I could... I know it's not for everyone, but for someone who rarely goes anywhere without a Macbook, well, an iPhone would mean freedom.

A lot of my work is macbook-based. Also, I use it to communicate with *Twinkle*, like a (large, somewhat inconvenient) mobile phone.

The combination of the iPhone and MobileMe (due to launch in 81 minutes) is very powerful. The idea that I can have access to ALL of my data (only excluding my 500 home videos) from anywhere really excites me. I get such a thrill when someone asks me a question and I'm able to find the information they need within seconds - that's one reason why I love being *Twinkle*s secretary.

Anyway, thinking about the iPhone got me thinking about what email address I'll use with it. I want something 'permanent', not some transitory address that I'd only be able to use with that one carrier in Japan (the same thinking is behind my decision to buy three phone numbers for life from Skype - one for UK callers, one for Japan-based callers and one for my US contacts). We've long been dependent upon these companies for our contact-identities, but technological developments and the relative generosity of companies like Google (in providing Google Apps) means that we can now use our own personally-selected identities with virtually any communications device.

So if I wasn't going to be josephtame@softbank.ne.jp, what was I going to be?

Hmm, maybe I could take the next step with my 'experiment'.

One part of my 'life experiment' was to start to be very open on my mumble about my thoughts and feelings. To not devalue or disregard my own ideas in the face of the opinions of others, to try and live in the flow.

The second stage of this process was to put a link to my blog in my email signature. However, I was still a bit uncomfortable with this and so I'd often delete the signature before sending, not wanting those people to know about it.

And I do continue to find myself reacting with discomfort when a colleague or friend tells me that they've read my blog ...and I really don't like to see TDM displayed on someone else's monitor. But paradoxically, I also embrace those situations. It's another opportunity to let go. I am Joseph. I do not have to be what others want me to be. If I act out of love for others and in harmony with my core values, it's ok. I do not need their subjective approval. Their opinions are just their opinions. There is no hierarchy, we are all together in this grand adventure called life. We can learn from one another. Someone criticising me is doing me a great favour - they are providing me with a far greater opportunity to grow than someone agreeing wholeheartedly with what I'm saying.

So back to this email thing then.

How about I adopt one of my web-domains as my email server? That would mean that I would effectively be advertising my online presence to anyone and everyone I sent an email to. How would that feel? It would be like inviting strangers into my heart to have a look around. That feels kind of uncomfortable. Surely there's a limit to how open one 'should' be.

I thought about this for a long time. It was a difficult decision to make. Changing my email address so that it pointed at thousands of pages of stuff about me would make for a big step out of my comfort zone, and one that runs counter to prevailing popular trends (in that most people are doing all they can to protect their privacy).

After a day or so I decided that yes, I will take this step. It is uncomfortable, but I feel it is the right thing to do. I'm not sure why, but I think I'll find out in due course.

This documenting my life online has come to be a big part of me, and I feel I have been given some incredible opportunities as a direct result of it. It's not always easy, and I have to try hard to ensure that it doesn't impact upon those that I love who are not so enamoured by the idea of being so open with the world.

The transfer of just over 22,000 emails from my old email account to my new one took three days (via POP3). It's all sorted, and my new iPhone email is all ready for it's new sexy host come September.

(Emails sent to my old email address will continue to be delivered.)

Labels: , ,

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The secret to forgiving

I'm now into week 7 of my TSI coaching course. Initial goals I set myself at the beginning of the course have mostly been achieved, thus, when this week I was asked to once again identify problematic areas within my life, I really struggled. In the end, I had to contact one of my coaches for guidance, and it was through this experience that I came to wonder if my positive outlook on life is actually impairing my ability to identify (and address) problems. I was really struck by how difficult I find it to look at any event or situation and not focus on the good in it (I'm not talking things on the scale of war atrocities here, I'm talking the environment that I live in).

I wonder if this tendency to only see the good in others / situations will impact negatively upon my life in the long term?

There's a risk that by seeing things in this way I could alienate myself from others, or perhaps reduce my own capacity to sympathise and show love when it's needed. I think I've actually seen this happen already to a limited degree, when I have neglected to make an effort to see a situation from the point of view of a friend who is not so inclined to see things positively and subsequently come across as uncaring.

I'm thinking that I need to be careful to strike a balance between communicating my own positive take on events, and acknowledging and responding appropriately to the hurt felt by others.

Another theme in this week's course has been that of forgiveness. If I recall a situation in which I have harboured bad-feeling towards someone whom I feel wronged by, I can feel myself having that black heart. It's painful, it sucks up energy, it's stressful. But ego tells me that they have to apologise or make up for what they've done before I can let go of it, which is a load of rubbish. The thing is, the longer I hold on to blame, the longer I hurt myself. It's just silly, why make life more difficult for myself, when I can just forgive?

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” - Lewis B. Smedes


If I'm finding it difficult to forgive someone, one trick I use is to imagine them dead.

Nice huh.

No, but really, it works. "If this person were to die today would I want them to die knowing that I am harbouring these bad feelings towards them?" The chances are, if it's someone I care about (as is nearly always the case when it comes to strong feelings whether positive or negative), I won't want them to die like that. I'd want them to know that I love them, that I care for them, and that I appreciate what they have done for me.

And of course, there's no reason why they might not die today.

If that trick doesn't work, then clearly the connection between us is weak, and thus I am being a bit daft to be investing so much energy in feeling bad towards them.

Anyway, I can hear the Sheep Man calling so I'd best be off. He doesn't like to be kept waiting.

xxx

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My coaching course

I'm now in week 5 of my 12-week coaching course with TSI. Initially, I'll admit I was pretty sceptical, but my friends and I had talked about coaching a little, and I figured it was at least worth a try. Nothing to lose, right?

So, I signed up for a free coaching session with the founder, Cliff - he'd been highly recommended by a friend of the family.

That first 60 minute call was great. Really taught me a thing or two, and made me realise what excuses I was hiding behind in some areas of life. I was impressed, and so decided to sign up for the basic 101 coaching course that they offer.

There's six of us taking the 101 course, 5 of whom are in the USA. Every week we log in to our group lesson, and work through a series of thought-provoking exercises centred on a particular theme. For example, one week we may focus upon listening. I mean, really listening. That's been an interesting one, and our groups' results have been pretty staggering, seeing developments in relationships that have long been in need of change.

Every week we come together on a group call, discuss the lesson, and discuss our results. It's great to hear what's been achieved, and I must say each week I'm pretty staggered by how far people are pushing themselves - and consequently what great results they are getting. It may be financial, it may be familial, it may be connected with a career. Whatever, there's big changes for the better occurring left, right and centre.

Each week we're teamed up with a different member of the group, to whom we make a couple of calls during the week to help support one another through the change. That's been a real joy, getting to know these people, and being able to share experiences that may help others deal with their particular challenges.

One of the biggest motivators for me is being accountable. By making a commitment to "do X by such and such a date", I'm prompted to do things that I would normally put off, or not do at all. This accountability basically acts to put change in 5th gear. I'm not spending a week thinking about doing something and then doing it the following month - knowing that my friends are behind me in my action I'm able to do it now. Having this supportive environment of people that you have made a commitment to makes a world of difference.

So, all in all, a third of the way through the course I'm very happy with what I've got out of working with TSI. There's tonnes of coaching companies out there, and the thing is with no proper regulatory system you can never be sure what you're getting unless you try it - anyone can call themselves a 'life coach'. But this is a good one, so if you ever consider coaching, I'd add them to the list of people you'd try (I'd also recommend a call with this guy for comparison's sake).

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Team management profile - my report

A couple of weeks prior to coming on this 'Change event' I, and all other participants, were sent a (60 question) questionnaire to fill in order that a "Team Management Profile" could be drawn up. A TMP is essentially a 25 page report on you, showing your preferred roles within a team, detailing your strengths and weaknesses, providing areas for self-assessment (improvement), and giving pointers for others that wish to interact with you effectively.



I was pretty cynical when answering the questions, but having received my report I'm stunned. It is incredibly accurate - almost scarily so. I'm an explorer / promoter. I like challenges, constantly seek new projects, have a high energy level and am outgoing.

It goes on to talk about how,
"whilst you enjoy other people's views,"it is likely that you will have clear ideals, standards and convictions which guide your decision-making. You rely on your 'sixth sense' to tell you what is right."

"Your gift for expression is particularly forceful when you are proposing a line of action based on your personal values. Indeed, some may say you don't always support your ideas and beliefs with sufficient facts and hard evidence."


I think that latter point is demonstrated time and time again here, in the Mumble, when I blog about something that I feel passionate about, even when I lack any evidence to back up the argument behind my feelings. I've been aware of that for some time now, and I think it's a 'lack of time' for carrying out sufficient research that has come to make me hesitate to mumble as much as I may have done beforehand about immediate issues, out of concern to not be talking complete crap.

There's another warning for me a little later on in the report.

"You probably feel you involve people a lot in the decision-making process because you talk to them a great deal. You may wish to check up to see if they really do feel involved, in the sense that they can influence you as opposed to their being influenced by you. The more experienced you are, the better you will be able to handle this important balance."


I tell you, I feel like the author of this report has been stalking me. I recognise that danger in the way I interact with people, and although it is something I do try to counter by asking for sincere opinions, I know that that I find it difficult to not put across my feelings that are often founded on passion and core beliefs.

"You value harmony and co-operation, but can be a strong opponent if crossed" - I think the university's parking services could vouch for that!

What makes everyone laugh is looking at the Norm data - where you are compared to global norms.

Out of a sample of 151,616 people:

- 91% are more introverted than me
- 75% are more practical than me (I am more creative, apparently)
- 86% are more analytical than me (I'm belief's orientated - a look at any of my story-tale essays will back that up!)
- 84% are more flexible than me (rubbish!)

I would take issue with that final one. It must have been the wording of the questions that skewed the answer!

Whilst it is of course by no means foolproof, this TMP does seem to pick up on core behaviours and beliefs. I'd recommend anyone who has the opportunity to do it, to do it.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

SeeChange Residential Event: Day 1

It's been a fascinating day today.

Following that early morning jog, I slowly got my stuff together and headed over to the Computing Centre, where I was to met a couple of university 'colleagues' for the 50-minute drive down here, the Derbyshire Hotel, from where I'm now staying for a couple of nights (all expenses paid. Thank you Sheffield!).

This three day residential event is the product of the university's investment in change. The idea was spawned at a national "change" event attended by a couple of senior members of staff, who then thought "Wow! What a great idea! Let's have our own 'Change' process at Sheffield ...and let's call it SeeChange!" The call then went out for project proposals, one of which was drawn up by Patrice of Learning and Teaching Support, and Mark of CiCS/CILASS fame.

The goal of our project is to formulate a strategy that will see students utilising Web 2.0 tools to positively impact upon their learning process. This might include tools such as Facebook, RSS feeds & newsreaders, Flickr, YouTube and social bookmarking. It's not going to be easy. The use of Facebook by university staff is the topic of some debate and has cropped up several in CILASS debates; the current consensus seems to be something along the lines of 'stay away'.

What is key to our project is that it is student driven. If the university was to 'hijack' these popular services, the response would most likely be students choosing to go elsewhere. It's a difficult situation: A university driven initiative that cannot be university driven!

I'll describe some of the tools we've been given to aid us in our change process tomorrow.




I feel very fortunate to be involved in what really is an exciting project. And it's not just the project itself, it's the way it's being launched. The four teams that are here (making up a total of about 30 people) were selected following a competitive tendering process - thus we already feel quite special, it's like winning a holiday (although the hotel's not all that nice, and the Internet access deal is the biggest rip-off in the history of the galaxy. Having said that, I love staying in hotels and am very grateful for what we have been provided with. I'll be going for a Sauna when I wake up tomorrow...). The reason it's a three day residential held outside of Sheffield is, according to one of the organisers, to stop people nipping back to the office at lunchtime - we have to be fully focused. And I think it does help the creative process.

I'm also very appreciative to be able to partake in the training sessions that are being provided as a part of the package, the kind of things you'd pay good money to take part in privately. I'll talk more tomorrow about the Team Management Profile, a 'test' that leads to a personalised 25-page report on your contribution to a team. They are scarily accurate and offer invaluable insights into one's own character.

It's fascinating attending this event in the role of 'student', surrounded by staff. Whilst I may be 30 years old, I often feel more like I'm a teenager, and am prone to elevate staff above myself in the university environment. But seeing them work together here, it strikes me just how much they resemble my classmates and I as we carry out some group project. This leads me to think on how difficult I find it to take on the mantle of 'adult', and I wonder if this is a consequence of being labelled as a 'student'. How will my sense of identity change when I begin work?

I digress.

I'd better get to bed really, it's late. We have a full schedule tomorrow. Looking forward to it.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Spring, Surveillance and coaching course call one

It's been a great day today. First off, it was the beginning of Warm Spring. You could feel it brewing over the weekend with the muggy rain. It's been an astonishing 72 hours, with a complete transformation of the trees in the churchyard opposite my house - just like that! Like a switch being flicked! This really makes me happy. 

After a late start following a late night studying I had a couple of classes in which I did pretty appallingly, due to not putting enough work in recently. It's ok though, I know what I need to do, and I'll do it, and everything will turn out great.

I'm about 10,000 words into my 7000 word dissertation. Actually enjoying writing that now! I think about half of what I write will end up as appendixes. Only two chapters to go.



Tonight I popped over to the university drama studio to take some publicity shots for a new play being performed by Theatre Two Point Oh, Surveillance (a CILASS funded project). It's being produced (directed? What's the difference?!) by a fellow CILASS Student Ambassador (Tom), and stars Laura whose photo I posted a few days back with that great smile of hers (and again, below, without the smile). What an amazing thing they are doing... talk about team building. After the performance I lurked backstage to edit the photos, a process that took about 45 minutes. It was fascinating, as whilst I clicked away in Lightroom I couldn't help but listen to the stage intercom, thus overhearing the team meeting. It reminded me of a fly-on-the-wall documentary, following the fortunes of a group of dedicated individuals who come together to do something incredible. There's drama and tension along the way, but the ultimate result is a great show and a wealth of character-building  experience.


Once home tonight I attended my first ever group coaching session, as run by TSI, the coaching company that I mumbled about a few weeks back (It took the form of a small group conference call). It was good. Obviously, I'm not going to (and never will) divulge any personal information about my coursemates, but just to say it's a very diverse group with some incredible people who have gone through very tough times, but are determined to change their lives for the better. It's a really positive environment, and the timing is just perfect. The coming weeks will see huge changes for me, with several important decisions needed. Having this resource to call upon will help a lot.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes for me once we get started properly next week.

I'd like to thank those of you who have contacted me with post-grad ideas. You've been tremendously helpful. Every day has seen me feeling increasingly grateful that I was not given the job I wanted. I'm not saying that that job (as CIR on the JET scheme) would not have been  a good thing - such a position offers incredible opportunities and I believe I would have been a fool to say no had I been accepted - but thinking about who I really am, and where my heart lies, well, it just doesn't fit.   

It's scary though - I'm really feeling challenged to think hard about where my passions lie, and being dared to invest in turning them into a tangible opportunity. I'm looking at taking a part-time position, enabling me to pay the rent whilst devoting a significant amount of time in starting my own business, and supporting *Twinkle* in hers. 

We'll see. The domain name is registered at least! 

Best get to bed anyway. Long day of writing tomorrow. I need to get this dissertation finished asap as I still have a tonne of stuff to conclude before my student status expires!

xxx

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, April 14, 2008

My Life Purpose


One benefit of committing the story of one’s life to a blog powered by Google, hosted by some other company and then sent to you by email (and then burnt to DVD) is that when one turns 90, the chances are there will still be a copy of it somewhere. Why should that be important? I’d like to be able to look back on my life at the age of 90 and see if I can draw lines between developments in my thoughts, feelings and decisions early on in life (now) and later occurrences.

For many years, I kept *real* diaries. I have about 49 of them in a big box that will soon be sailing to Japan. They span some 15 years of my life from the age of about 12. There’s only one copy of them, and should the boat go down, they will go down too.

I pretty much stopped writing my *real* diary when I met *Twinkle*, who became the one I talked to about things that mattered. As time has passed, so I’ve grown more confident about writing about my feelings here on the Internet, which has been especially useful this past year with those friends who are happy to talk about such things being some distance away. It took me a while to develop the confidence to open up, and I know that without the inner work, I wouldn’t have been able to do this. It’s only though learning to trust my heart / spirit that I can feel confident in what I write. Confident in that I am being honest with myself (as opposed to confident in my being ‘right’, a view I don’t subscribe to. How can I be ‘right’ when things have no intrinsic ‘rightness’? Don’t they only have the rightness or wrongness we as individuals choose to assign to them?).
So there’s my long-winded preamble about why I’m writing this.

Things have been happening in my life this week. Well, actually, it’s more a case of things have always been happening all my life, but I feel that now is a critical period, like some kind of climax. There’s all these things that are happening. I feel like there’s some role being shaped for me, but I have no idea what it is. I’m getting this message that I have some kind of responsibility to do something. But not just an everyday something, but a something that is going to make a big difference. I don’t know what it is.

You know there’s that quote of Gandhi’s, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. I can’t say I can recall ever hearing it before this week, and suddenly, it’s everywhere. It was on a website I stumbled across the other day in bold letters. Then, it popped up on an audiobook I was listening too (quite the highlight actually - if you’re after self-development books give Brian Tracy a miss!), then the other night I was suddenly moved to pick a book off my shelf that had been there since January, untouched. It’s called “Be the change”, and is a product of the organisation of the same name, based in my second home town of Bristol. There on the front page is the quote by Gandhi.

Then there was the person I met in the pub the other night. Well, I say ‘met’. All I actually did was shake his hand and then talk to someone else on the other side of the table for 20 minutes, but the following day I received an email from his partner (my good friend) passing on a message for me, talking about my future. It was a reflection of the feelings I am writing about here.

Then there was that person who warned me, “Don’t hide behind *Twinkle’s* success”. Now that was a well-placed kick up the backside, and a very timely one at that. Likewise, I can’t hide behind the name of any company or government I might work for in the short term. I might want to, and no doubt I will do so at times due to my ego demanding a stroke, but it will be fatal if I subscribe to such a practice long term.

It’s not these superficial happenings that are overwhelming me though, it’s this feeling that growing inside me that I have a responsibility to use the immense fortune that I have to make a difference. I’m not talking any financial fortune, I’m talking being born in the UK in the late 20th century to loving parents who sent me to a Steiner School, and have always supported me emotionally in all that I have ever chosen to do. In having loving siblings and friends who share my positive outlook upon life and also believe that we can do great things.

Sometimes, the feeling is positively palpable. Like tonight. I had to lie down on my bed and hide under my duvet, hugging my teddy as I felt all these things happening, all this energy surrounding me (if only I could channel it into pressing the appropriate keys on my Macbook to write a dissertation on NGOs in Japan!). I’ve been reading these incredibly inspiring stories in the Be The Change book about individuals who have done the most amazing things and are changing lives. In some cases, just a few lives, and in other cases, many. There’s no fundamental difference between these people and anyone else, except that they have made a decision to make things happen, and then acted. They didn’t know how they were going to do it, but that is not important when one first embarks upon a project.

So, I’m not quite sure what to do. I don’t think the time is right to act yet as I need more clarity, and it may be a case of waiting some years before I do know. That’s not to say that I have to “wait until everything is in place” - the biggest excuse in the book that, things will never be ‘just right’! But I do know that it’s vital that I continue to study, study my passions, study others, study those things in life that present themselves to me with a label on saying “study me” (sometimes need an ultraviolet light to see the writing though).

I also know that living in accordance with what my heart tells me is right, is working. It must be almost a year now since I started that ‘experiment’, and the results in terms of being at ease with decisions made, not attaching importance to the subjective opinions of others who are acting out of a perceived necessity for defensiveness, and my ability to love others for who they, are wonderful to experience.

It’s pretty difficult for me to tell even a white lie now. Although I did the other day, first time in a very long time. I can’t remember exactly where I was. It was somewhere on campus, I remember that, and it was someone who I didn’t know too well, and they asked me an awkward question. I told them the answer they wanted to hear, and boy oh boy did I feel bad. I almost burst out laughing I was so amused by my inability to lie. If the person had known me they’d have spotted it right away, but they didn’t.

In a way I can comfort myself with the knowledge that the publishing company we are establishing is essentially a social enterprise, helping others to help themselves without heavy emphasis on profit. If my energy is directed into that, I can feel happy knowing that I am doing a good thing. Perhaps I’ll get the Jet job. If I do I know I’m going to have to use every opportunity within that to make myself a better person, in order that I can make things happen in an area where my true passions lie in the future.

If I don't get it, that’s great too as it means that there’s some other exciting path waiting for me.


So, 90-year-old Joseph, do the lines join up?

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Total Success Institute


Great day today. Got that video submitted to the competition - I've had that lingering on my to do list for several months now. Then, it was wedding planning. Phone calls made, meetings arranged, all very exciting!

Following that it was congrats to my *Twinkle*, who in the month of March saw sales in excess of 1.8 million yen (about £9,200) - a new record for her (our) relatively young direct marketing business (organic food, organic supplements, eco-consumables etc). Says a lot about her character, and what she expects out of life. Good to have a successful partner, keeps you on your toes. If you get too lazy they bring a millionaire home to replace you.

A bit of Japanese homework, and then finally, the call I'd been waiting for.

A few days back I blogged about a call I'd had with a life coach. It was interesting, inspiring, but not especially life-changing. A bit like the latest audiobook on personal development I'm listening to. You find after you've read the ten or fifteen core texts there's not much but rehashing, people just jumping on the bandwagon to make money, lacking any real creativity or insight themselves. I've been pretty fortunate in that I've only found myself stuck with two such duds. And last week's coaching call.


But today was a bit different. I'd mentioned that previous phone call to my sister, who then recalled a one-day seminar she'd been to a year ago run by the Total Success Institute (new website on the way). She'd been really impressed, and personally knew of two people who had taken their courses - I should contact them. I did, and got prompt replies from both of them.
"Everyone should take this course, it makes for an all-round better life".

"It will definitely be a worthwhile investment".

So, the next step was to get a taste of what they offered. I listened to an interview with the founder, it sounded good. I read some of the information on their website, and signed up for a free coaching call.



Why do I feel I need coaching?

In the next few months, several things are going to happen:

1) I'm going to graduate
2) I'm going to marry my *Twinkle* and thus have my own family (includes baby mac)
3) I'm going to be faced with the choice of where I direct the bulk of my energy for the first time in 5 years

These are pretty mega changes, and I want to make sure I make the most of this huge opportunity to steer my life in the direction I want it to go in.

I don't have much experience of marketing myself in the professional field. Sure, I have a popular website (thank the horse cocks for that; they remain at No.1 in the Search Query Report for the 6th year running), I have language skills, computer skills, people/communication skills ...but when it comes to the marketplace I'm lost, and don't know how to position myself to utilise my full potential. I lack the necessary confidence. I lack these skills.

Books can only give you so much. At some point, you have to put them down and act, otherwise they only have as much of an impact as one hand clapping loudly against the air. A book doesn't know my specific skills set, and a book can't set me specific targets to help me motivate myself and move forward. Coaching can do that.

I've invested over £20,000 in my BA Japanese Studies degree. It's been money very well spent. Thinking of that, it seems only prudent to invest a little in learning how to take these skills and turn them into something that generates an income.

If I was the type destined to enter a big company and then leave my development/future in the hands of their HR department, well, perhaps I'd be alright as I am. But I'm not. I love being creative, making things happen, making a difference. I want to generate my own income stream doing the things I love to do, whether that be consulting, speaking, writing, teaching or whatever.

(Incidentally, this is one reason why I am keen to work as a CIR on the JET scheme - annual contract with not a sniff of a pre-determined career in sight. It's like an internship. Opens doors.)

So, this is why I would like to have some coaching. It feels like natural progression (especially considering the way I was introduced to it). Like a logical next step in this 18-month journey.

Some may scoff and say "you don't need coaching! what a waste of money!" I wonder, would these people say the same to a wannabe singer who has a fabulous voice but is yet to learn how to control it?




I called Cliff at the agreed time (although it took a bit of thinking to figure out what the 'agreed time' was, as the clocks have just changed here and he's in the USA!) and was soon struck by the homework he'd done. He'd been reading some website called Tame Goes Wild, and knew all about me. He even knew I'd spent some time this afternoon preparing for my wedding. How does this information get out there?

I was pretty staggered to learn that he knew what a Steiner education was; this of course meant he had a better idea of what kind of person I was, what with the (good?!) reputation us Steiner / Waldorf kids have! I also found he was open to my ideas on spirituality, which served to help build my trust in him.

As we talked so I found myself wondering at his intuition. He was incredibly observant and picked up on a lot of stuff that I hadn't mentioned during the call and wasn't posted online. "Have you got a brother called Wayne Dyer?!" I asked at one point, laughing.

In the end we were talking for an hour and a quarter. Having got a pretty good idea of where I was in life, he made some concrete suggestions regarding how I approach the opportunity on the horizon, one of which had never even occurred to me, yet fits my skill set perfectly. I was impressed, and realised that were I to agree to work with this coach, 'things would happen'.

There was no high-pressure sell, and there has been no high-pressure sell in the follow up. Just demonstrations of professionalism and integrity.

I can't say I recommend the coaching that TSI offer yet, because apart from today's phone call, I've had none. Still, I'll be signing up for an introductory course when my student loan comes through, and keep you posted so you can laugh with me, or at me (whichever suits your personal opinion the best). I hope in the long term to take it further with 1 on 1 coaching. I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

I would say though, that if anyone is already seriously considering coaching, DON'T consider TSI. It was in a totally different league from my last coaching experience, real big-picture yet pragmatic life changing stuff.


Oh, and if you do contact them, do mention TameGoesWild!

Labels: , , ,

Friday, March 21, 2008

Phone call with a personal coach

Well, that was very interesting. 

I just had a 30-minute conversation with a life coach based in Thailand, worth $100, or $1000 depending on which literature you check. I paid $1 via Paypal.

He's published a couple of books, he runs workshops in various countries (including Japan), and has that vital appalling childhood story to start off with (it is pretty bad).

I think he's a student of the Anthony Robbins school, as much of what he said sounded quite familiar. Nice guy, I did like him. He's got really good communication skills too, making sure he's on the same level as you, and prepared to listen. Budgies twirping in the background.

It sounds like the crux of his coaching technique is basically helping you set goals, and then making you accountable to him for reaching those goals through some kind of software and phone calls / emails. Of course, he provides guidance along the way (in the form of daily/weekly/monthly coaching sessions), but I realise that at the end of the day, the change will not come from him - it has to come from within.

I can see the value of this system for someone like myself who has a real problem with procrastination. I feel that I've come a long way in the last year in that I have discovered my foundations,  come to appreciate that fundamentally I am no more or no less than anyone else on the planet, be they majorly 'successful' or living on a bench in the park. I appreciate that I, just like anyone else, have tremendous potential. However, I do still get a bit stuck with acting on that potential. I'm thinking that the main reason why hiring a coach does work is that one has paid a substantial sum of money in order that one can 'improve'. If money means something to you, you will make sure you get something out of it. (This is one reason why I am happy to pay for copy-protected Audiobooks, it makes me appreciate them all the more!).

So, why not just pay $300, $2000, or $3000 to your local animal rescue centre, and link that to a step-by-step plan for 'success'. Chances are, it would probably have quite an impact. But the dogs won't phone you if you haven't done what you've committed to doing, and they probably don't know all that much about procrastination-busting techniques. "Shall I go to sleep for a while? Naaa, I'll do that later after I've had a lie-down".

I'm really glad that I had that conversation though. Whilst the final 15 minutes were basically his sales pitch, the call as a whole served to reinforce the confidence that I have in my own potential. Whilst I won't be signing up for any of his courses right now, I can see the value of at least attending one of his seminars in Tokyo later in the year.

I've deliberately omitted his name here as his web site is truly appalling, an embarrassment to the industry, and very much at odds with the image of the person that I gained through talking with him.

Ho hum. On with homework.

xxx

Labels: ,

The ups and downs

I've been playing with my zoom lens. 1 second exposure, zoom out whilst the shutter is open.

This was yesterday...

Strange feeling of finality today. It could be due to my having taken part in my last ever SEAS open day, an event I always enjoy a great deal.

As with every time, it was interesting watching everyone file in. I saw myself, 4 years ago, doing just the same. Seems like 5 minutes ago, and yet, a lifetime too.

With that over, and everyone away on their Easter holidays, I feel like the rug has been pulled from beneath my feet. It strikes me how much I depend upon familiarity and routine for a sense of peace.  Perhaps what is disturbing me is not simply the fact that with the holidays my routine has been changed, but rather, it's the fact that although I remain in a very familiar place, somehow, everything is different

Hotplate

Despite being very fond of them all, I don't socialise with my classmates much. But now I'm not seeing them every day, I'm missing them.


Hokkaido

It's important that I have times like this, when suddenly life seems to have no meaning and nothing really matters, as without these experiences, I wouldn't be able to relate to others when they were having hard times. I can understand how people can feel that there is no meaning to life...

This is Today

I stopped writing at that point, as I felt too crappy. I think it was partly tiredness, partly the isolation, partly unhappiness with not getting things done that I'd wanted to get done. 

Oh, then the car got another puncture, had to change the wheel for the second time this week. I finally sorted out my parking tickets this afternoon. It was a bit of battle with the staff (who are in desperate need of customer service training), but eventually my appeal was referred to the department manager.  Comparing his reply to the correspondence I'd had with the clerical staff beforehand, I was struck by the differences between the two. Here he was telling me that my appeal was being rejected, but doing so in a way that actually made me want to pay, and feel good about it. The manner in which the clerical staff had dealt with me though made me feel like a piece of shit, and made it very hard for me to want to co-operate with them. What a graphic example that was of what the difference is between an inspiring leader and, er, someone who is unaware of how others are feeling.

After the ticket extravaganza had been dealt with I sent the manager the letter I'd written detailing the appalling customer service I'd received. I explicitly pointed out that this wasn't being sent in anger or pettiness, but rather, it was being sent in the hope that it would mean that others would not have to go what I had gone through (in the past week I've spoken to several university staff members who have had similar experiences to my own, so I know it's not a personal thing!).

Returning home I couldn't help but laugh when I opened my post: a payslip from the University of Sheffield for £123 - the EXACT amount that the two parking tickets had come to!

I love working for free...!

Anyway, my friend is home now, and the car is gone. Phew. More work than a baby.

Finished the audio version of Michael Palin's 1969-1979 diaries today, wonderful stuff. You know, I'd never truly appreciated just how popular Monty Python had been in the 1970s. With that book finished I couldn't resist but sign back up to Audible.co.uk; got £80 worth of audiobooks for £14.99 which I'm happy with. They'll keep me going for a while (I'll tell you about them in due course).

Went to the cinema last night to see The Bank Job. The acting wasn't superb and the story was pretty simple, but I enjoyed it as it was based on the true story of one of the UK's most successful bank robberies - the details of which are still protected under the Official Secrets Act. Why? Apparently such information could do a lot of to the damage to our royal family and government. We only have to wait another 50 years to find out the truth!

Tomorrow morning I should be receiving a phone call from somewhere in Indonesia. Or maybe it was Bangkok. I think an Anthony Robbins wannabe is going to try to sell me a $1000 self-development package. Eyes Wide Open Joseph, Eyes Wide Open.

I'm starting to regain a sense of clarity now my list of things to do is shrinking. It's good. It's all good.

love joseph

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Organic vegetables, Nelson Mandela, and your own thought processes

Ha. It's another of those nights. Those nights when I go to bed, but feel so excited about everything and nothing that I have to get up again.

Part of it's the music, I know. I'm listening to Everything But the Girl - Walking Wounded. One of the few CDs I ever owned. Bought it in Switzerland I think, Interlaken. That was before I knew any Japanese. I remember that as the CD case has a bit of Japanese on it, and it was only a few years after I'd bought it that I realised what it said (Eee bee tee jee = EBTG). It's truly wonderful how music can take you back in time to a place, to a feeling, to a state of mind. Listening to this and looking at my swiss photos sees me up that Alp in 1997. Caw, that part of the world is staggeringly beautiful. I do hope that *Twinkle* and I end up back there one day (by that I mean that I hope that that remains one of our goals).

My weekly Organic Vegee box from Beanies

Doesn't that fruit and veg look delicious?! I love organic vegees so much, more than any form of processed food - including Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. The taste of a fresh organic salad is, according to the interaction between my taste buds and mind, the most delicious taste there is. The taste of this pile of fruit and veg could only be surpassed by an identical box of produce that I'd grown myself. It will happen.

I had a difficult day yesterday. I was feeling troubled by Nelson Mandela's treatment having finished his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. What an incredible story. Certainly puts things into perspective. I think of his 27 years of incarceration, and of the appalling hardships endured by black South Africans under Apartheid, and then I think of complaints that I or my friends might have about noisy neighbours, our language course, or what so-and-so said... and I am reminded how spoilt we are. We have so much to be grateful for. Every single day.

Thank
.

You
.

When I reached the part of the book where he described his release I paused and paid a visit to You Tube, where I observed the same scene from outside of his body. Having just gained an insight into what had led to that moment I found it to be incredibly moving. I wiped the tears away, and bang! I was back there. Not South Africa, but our lounge, in front of the TV. It was the 11th of February 1990; I was 12 years old. ...I can vividly recall watching that live news report on the BBC. I'd heard of Nelson Mandela and Apartheid, and I remember being excited, and so happy, running around the dining room and the lounge.

It was cold outside.

Sun shines down beyond the Arts Tower

I went to give blood today. Unfortunately due to my history of epilepsy, I'm unable to be a donor until 2011, and was actually advised to never give blood. It's not that my blood poses a risk to others, it's that giving blood poses a risk to me in that it could trigger a seizure.

The nurses were very good about it - they could see I was upset. In fact, they treated me even more nicely after that, insisting that I go and sit down and have a cup of tea and a biscuit.

So, I'll just have to make do with saving people when I die instead :-) ...and keep on buying cakes all week from the Bone Marrow Society. (Bloomin' good cakes too).

I was pretty surprised by how many people were there. It was like discovering a whole hidden culture of Good Samaritans. How come I had never tried to donate blood before?



Been missing *Twinkle* a lot this week. In a way I wish I could bottle this experience, and keep it as a reminder for future years when we are 'always' together, to ensure that I don't get complacent, to ensure that I stay concious of how fortunate we are (will be) to be able to share our lives with one another.



I feel I've become more aware of our differences this year. Having so much space enables one to step back and think about how differently one sees some things. That's not a bad thing at all. I see her as my teacher, thus the more differing perspectives, the more we can both learn (I would add that I don't think that the differences would be so welcome if there was not an underlying meeting of spirit!).

I'm grateful that over the past year I have been encouraged to explore the idea that there is no right and wrong - there is only differing perceptions of 'reality'. This proves to be especially helpful in situations where social norms would normally dictate that conflict was the appropriate response. With there being no 'right' and no 'wrong' there is no impulse to convince the other that one is 'right'. One can have a completely different opinion from someone else, and yet accept that they are just as 'right' as you. After all, the 'thing', whatever it is, just is. It has no implicit meaning, it only has the meaning that we assign to it.

This way of thinking has really helped me to back down and accept *Twinkle*'s way of thinking without my pride getting in the way. I've not quite got it down to a fine art yet though - far from it! But, being aware is the first important step, and I'm glad to have taken that.

Changing the subject, this past week I've been marvelling at the brain's ability to assign meaning to things I see. I've been playing a little game whereby I look at something, and then observe my thought process as meaning is assigned. Of course normally it happens to fast that we barely notice (you look at a traffic light, and before the you know it, you know it's a traffic light!), but you can slow it down. One method is to turn the lights off so the room is pretty dim, then look around until you make out a shape. You can actually see you brain sorting through an amazingly comprehensive database of images, experiences, feelings, meanings! Absolutely amazing (and we think Google is clever...!). Another way to set yourself up for this experiment is to reduce the exposure on a bunch of photos, so the subjects are barely visible. Or, next time you meet someone whom you know you recognise but can't actually place or name, watch your brain sift through your memory bank in a bid to come up with a match of sorts.

Ahh, the pleasure of introspection!

Well, I'd best be off to bed. Up early tomorrow, and my list of things to do is almost as long as my nose :-)

Mush love xxx

p.s. I want this girl's voice.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Friday, March 07, 2008

Time for a new book

This morning, whilst attempting to do more than 15 press-ups next in the park, I finally finished listening to the 13-hour audiobook version of Steven Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. It's been a great listen, and I can understand why it has been received so well since its publication in 1989.

Naturally, much of what he writes about is covered in other success / personal development literature, and of course he makes no claims to have dreamed up these habits himself. It's just another way of putting them.

There was one tool that I picked up from this book that I have not seen elsewhere, and that is the Time Management Matrix (worth taking a look at). Whilst initially somewhat sceptical about its relevance for my life (and somewhat put off by what I perceived to be an attention-seeking title), looking back I can see I have actually referred to it and found it positively useful several times in the last couple of weeks. Specifically, I have felt myself motivated by the idea that those activities that are not urgent but important (they go into the top-right corner, that being quadrant 2), such as regular exercise, studying kanji etc, actually have a huge impact upon the quality of one's life.

So, for example, this morning I woke up at 6.30am and looked out of the window. It was raining. "Hmm, maybe I'll give exercise a miss today" was my natural reaction, but then recalling that this was a quadrant 2 activity (important but not urgent), I realised that I could say that same thing every single day - without penalty - and nothing would change.

OR, I could appreciate that as a quadrant 2 activity, all efforts put into it would in the long term reap enormous benefits , and it was worth the short-term 'pain'.

As it happened, despite getting a bit wet and despite being left outside for 15 minutes when I got home having forgotten to take my key, I really enjoyed it, and I feel energised for the day. And I got to stretch my self-discipline muscles too!

It was actually the Time Management Matrix that helped me reach the decision to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test too. There is something which will never be urgent, but boy-oh-boy is it important for me.

So what's next? I'm out of Audiobooks for now. I do re-listen to some of them every few months, but I want something fresh. Ah, yes, I know...

I've signed up to Audible.co.uk again, and for £7.99 have got Nelson Mandela's Long Walk To Freedom, and for a complete change, Michael Palin's Diaries, 1969 - 1979, as recommended by Andy Ihnatko. I'm really excited about listening to these! I can also feel good about my shopping-for-pleasure not having a big impact upon the environment, as all it is is data, data that makes me very happy!

A few weeks back I was talking to a friend of mine about spending time on self-development. They mentioned that although they would love to look into this realm, they just couldn't make the time for it.

I couldn't help but smile. "Didn't you just spend three years at university studying something which you now admit you have little interest in, and are unlikely to work in any industry where you can use the knowledge that you acquired through your course?"

My friend was silent for a while, and then smiled at their own logic.

I would argue, that when it comes to things that are Important but not Urgent, you can't afford to not have time at the moment, because unless you make time for them, today, they will never happen.

Just think, all those life-changing things you could do, whether it be studying your chosen language, exploring thought patterns, or learning how to communicate effectively with your spouse and children, these things could remain as ideas associated with some conceptual ideal life - unless you choose to make them your reality by acknowledging their importance today and acting upon them. Now.

By investing even a tiny fraction of the time that my friend had put into their university course in learning about themselves and their own potential, they could improve their levels of satisfaction, happiness and general well-being for the duration of their entire lives. And, as a bonus, they wouldn't be lumbered with another £24,000 debt either!

Of course, I'm not denying that the university experience is all about degrees. Far from it. It is also an amazing Life School, teaching all manner of skills that could never be learnt through, for example, an audiobook alone.

For a start, it teaches one when it's time to shut up, and get on writing that dissertation introduction..!

(and suddenly, he was gone).

Labels: , ,

Make the world a better place

One of the few blogs that I follow that does actually belong to a real live person whom I actually know, is My So-Called Japanese Life, written by Shari, a friend whom I worked with when living in Tokyo in 2002.

Shari recently wrote a post with suggestions for ways in which one could work to improve oneself, and through that help make the world a better place.

I agree wholeheartedly with Shari's suggestions. By adopting these principles you can significantly improve your sense of well-being and happiness, and that will have a positive effect upon all around you.

I'd like to invite you take a peek for yourselves.

Make the World a Better Place (and you a better person)

Labels: