Why It’s Smarter to go with Imperfection

Are you like me?
Do you take pride in being perfect?

So let me ask you, does being perfect mean you do all the work on any given project by yourself? After all, if you ask someone else to take over, you might lose control, right? Read more

Power of a SMILE

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I fell while walking my dog last spring and sustained a mouth injury. You can read what happened to me here.
Since then, I’ve gone through a year of dental reconstructive surgeries under the care of the remarkable Dr. Rhys Spoor and his kind and knowledgable staff. They are the best team ever! Read more

Kaizen will Keep You Growing

If you’ve been reading my blog, you already know that I am passionate about the daily practice of Kaizen in my life. Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy. Here is my interpretation of this word, “Life-long learning in small incremental steps”. Read more

Why Going Slow will Help You to Survive

Here’s a story for you.

After I opened my first hair salon in 1980, I worked hard to build my business. I scrimped and saved and put in long hours of work. But I never felt like I was going anywhere with it. Every year was a struggle in financial hardship. Yet, when I looked around, my peers were doing so well. They bought fancy cars and traveled all over the world to attend exciting Beauty Symposiums. Read more

How De-Cluttering can Change Your Life Forever

If someone asked you if you are a hoarder, you’d probably say, “No. I keep my living space clean most of the time.”

Let me share a story about how I was not able to concentrate on writing the chapters to my new book, even though I cleaned and organized my office space and created an environment that was a pleasant space to think and write. Read more

Stepping into the New Year, Embracing Childhood Memories

My childhood memories of the year-end traditions, while growing up in Kiyushu, Japan always floods my mind this time of the year.

I went through a culture shock when I arrived in America at the age of eleven and saw how differently people in America celebrated the coming of the new year. Lively new year’s eve parties, waking up on January first and watching football games on TV was so foreign to me. The older I got, the more I cherished my childhood memories of Oshogatsu (Japanese New Years).

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Starting the first of December, Mother would say, “Keiko, we are going through each room in our house and give them a deep cleaning. Without an argument, I helped Mother clean all the shoji-screens, de-cluttered the drawers and swept and cleaned the floors.

Mother also gave me a To-do list.

 

 

 

Mother’s To Do list read like this:
Do you owe money to anyone? Pay it back.
Did you say unkind words to anyone? Apologize before the year ends.
Did you mean to do a kind act for someone? Do it now.
Did you think about what you will do in the coming year to become a better person? Write it down.

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 After I finished my to do list, then it was time to relax and enjoy the coming of the new year which began near midnight on December 31. We sat in our clean house and enjoyed eating traditional bowl of buckwheat noodles topped with grated mountain potatoes, listening to the far away sounds of the temple bells as it rang out the exact number of the year we were about to enter.

Mother would say, “Keiko, soba noodles are the last to enter your body this year. The noodles are cleansing. You will start out the new year with a clean body and a clear mind.”

I always got up early on New Year’s Day. Mother dressed me in a colorful kimono and we visited the temple and prayed for a good year so we will have the fortune to maintain good relationships, health and wealth. After that, we went home, ready to have fun playing children’s games (played only at Oshogatsu time) with the neighborhood children and eating traditional New Year’s food Mother prepared. Oshogatsu lasted three days from Jan. 1 – 3.

Even though it’s been many years since I left Japan, I still remember my Mother’s words at the end of each year. I try my best to follow through with the list Mother made for me.

Happy New Year and I wish for you a year filled with joy, gratitude and love.

 

Why Dog Training will Help You to Improve Leadership Skills

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Sitting at the dog training center with my dog, Max, I obediently followed our instructor as she taught us how to make our dogs sit, stay, and lay down. After a few sessions, I realized that the instructor was not really teaching my dog rather she was training me to develop my leadership skills. She belted out commands to us humans, saying, “Stand tall like you have confidence, don’t be wishy washy with your leash handling and make direct eye contact!”

When we did a good job with our dogs, she would say, “What are you waiting for? Give your dog a treat!”

Max  is looking so sweet in his selfie photo.
Max is looking so sweet in his selfie photo.

I often got frustrated because Max was not obeying my commands. I said to Max with an angry expression on my face, “What’s wrong with you? I told you to come to me.” The instructor came over and said, “How do you expect him to understand what you mean? Look at your body language, you’re bent over, not standing straight. Your facial expression doesn’t show that you genuinely want him to succeed. If I was your dog, I wouldn’t want to obey you either.” 

I felt put-down by the boot camp-style feedback but swallowed my pride and continued with training. Before long, I became engrossed in the skills I was learning and continued on to the Intermediate and Advanced classes. In-fact, I got so hooked on what I was learning, I kept going back for more.

 

Max gained self-esteem through training.
Max gained self-esteem through training.

I started to practice what I learned in dog training classes at work. I began to feel more confident as a leader and noticed improvements in the people on my team. As my communication to others became more clear, there was less confusion with the directions I delivered. Things got done right and people were happy!

Here are some tips I learned in my classes. I know you’ll agree that these handling skills can be transferred to humans to help us become better leaders.

 Dog Training 101

1. Be clear and specific – Your voice should be clear so your dog can understand. Don’t mumble.
2. Be consistent – It will confuse the dog when you don’t use the same words. If “okay” is your release word for your dog, don’t say “come it’s okay” the next time.
3. Keep it simple – Use only one command at a time. Say “sit down” instead of “come here and sit down.”
4. Gain loyalty by being fair – Dogs notice if you are not fair. Be compassionate and truthful. No physical violence, instead show them respect.
5. Be confident – When giving dogs a command, show confidence in your body language, voice tone and facial expression.
6. Give feedback – if you don’t get the appropriate response, correct them immediately. Be patient and keep teaching until you get the response you’re looking for
7. Praise all the time – When you get the correct response, praise them immediately…. yes, every time!
8. Positive ending – Finish your training session with the correct behavior. Never end on a negative note. Say, “Yhea, good job!” and give them ample treats and pet their head.

Fact: When dogs go through obedience training, their self-esteem is higher.

Now, go see how these dog training methods can fit into your human interactions. I guarantee, that your relationships with your co-workers, friends and family members will improve just like mine did!

Steps to Take After a Setback in Your Life

Have you experienced a set back which had a dramatic effect on your life? I mean it just knocked you off your feet in a split second? You may have asked yourself, why me? I’m sure you have because that is the human tendency.

This is me after my accident
This is me after my accident

Here’s my story of a devastating accident I had a few months ago and what I did to get out of the funk. I hope me sharing this will help you to deal with your set backs. I took my dog Max for a leisurely walk one evening. I saw a man, a little girl and their dog walking towards us. I quickly placed Max in a sit position, waiting for them to pass by. I saw that their dog was excited, jumping, pulling and running in circles. I called out to them, “Keep your dog in tact!”. Before I could finish my sentence, the dog broke leash and came running toward us.

This is the dog who came running, causing me to fall.
This is the dog who came running, causing me to fall.

I started to run with Max to get away from the scene. The dog kept coming after us, he ran circles around my legs, causing me to fall right on my face. Can you believe? The man and his little girl walked away, leaving me badly hurt on the ground. A neighbor man came out and saw me. He immediately called 911 and I was taken to emergency.

It’s been three months now and I’m still not back at work. It’s been a painful process plus I have an expensive dental restoration process to go through which will cost me more money than I’ve imagined. It can be a devastating accident like what happened to me or something else which can happen in a split second as you live your life. No matter what the reason, recovering from an unexpected event can take you through all kinds of ups and downs. This is how I handled it to maintain a healthy attitude and you can do it too.

  • I accepted what happened to me and decided I should be grateful it was not worse than it was. This is where I began counting my blessings. I’m sure you will be able to come up with tons of things you are grateful for.
  • I decided that I would not blame myself or the other party who caused this accident. What good will blaming do? It is what it is, so just deal with it.
  • I made good use of the downtime. I signed up for an on-line writing course and improved my writing skills. Do you have something you’ve been wanting to learn but never had the time? This is the time to do it.
  • I did an hour or two of art projects daily. You can do something creative – try new recipes, organize your drawers etc. Everything is art, that’s how I see it.
  • I enjoyed spending time with family and friends. It’s catch-up time so connect with people. They understand you are going through a tough time and will be happy to spend time with you.
  • An incident like this can help you to have mental relaxation time so you can prepare yourself to get back in the game better than how you left it. What do you think?