Friday, 30 September 2016

The big OE in Japan

I was talking with a Japanese acquaintance this morning and we were talking about travelling. I was explaining to him the concept of the OE.

The big OE is very much a New Zealand term and it means 'Overseas Experience' where people from New Zealand take usually a minimum of a year and go overseas to experience the big wide world.

For a great percentage of New Zealanders, London is the destination as it is almost considered to be the mother country as a lot of New Zealanders can trace their ancestry to Great Britain.

My friend was fascinated by this and he said that Japan doesn't really have this kind of culture. I said that a lot of students seem to travel around graduation time. 卒業旅行 Graduation trip it is called seems to be popular in Japan but he said it is only for a few weeks and then people come back and join a company, get married, have children, buy a house etc.

He thought out loud why Japanese don't do this.

I think that it comes down to a number of factors. Both New Zealand and Japan are geographically isolated however New Zealand is not linguistically isolated from the rest of the world. With English being one of the main languages in New Zealand we are not so isolated in terms of things like pop culture and the like.

Also another factor against a majority of Japanese doing things like OEs is the lifetime employment concept. Lifetime employment is the idea that you work for the same company for your entire working life. The company looks after you and you basically give them 40 years or more of your life.

Another reason I think that it is popular for New Zealanders is that Britain is considered the mother country and we want to go there to discover out roots. I must admit when I was in Scotland a few years ago it was nice to see where my ancestors grew up.

Japanese don't really have that. They come from Japan and that is their home. Japan isn't really an immigrant country whereas New Zealand is. 900 years ago there wasn't anyone on the New Zealand islands while in Japan it was the Heian Period and the country was ruled as it is today by an emperor.

I think that it is important to get out and explore the world as you can gain a better perspective of where you are from and also you may pick up other useful things like learning a language for instance.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Unconventional is a good word

I was reading a book the other day and it said to make a list of your strengths. So I did.

It is quite difficult to do it for yourself as you might not see things that other people see so it is good to get someone else to help you out with this exercise.

I asked my friend to help me out. A list came back from my friend with twice as many items on the list than I had written.

One of the items on the list was that I am unconventional. That word stopped me in my tracks. Have you ever been called unconventional? (I'm sure you have probably been called a lot worse in your time but this one was an interesting one.)

For a split second I thought that unconventional was a negative word. Why? Because we are brought up in a society in which we are encouraged to fit in. To toe the party line so to speak. People who are a little bit different are on occasions ostracised but it is these people, the ones who don't toe the party line that seem to make some kind of a difference in our lives. These people are laughed at, they are called names, they are asked why they are doing what they are doing until they become successful and then everyone wants to be their friend or at the very least they want to know how you did it.

So when someone calls me unconventional, I'll take that as a big fat compliment.

When I think about it I probably am unconventional. I know someone in my family used to joke and may still do from time to time that there is the right way to do something. There is the wrong way to do something and then there is the Blair way.

I was thinking about that today, I suppose I do do things a little bit differently. Let me give you an example. A very simple example at least. I noticed the guy sitting opposite me on the train had his sleeves rolled up on his business shirt. He did it the conventional way of rolling the sleeve outwards while I like to roll the sleeve inwards. Does that make sense?

It is just a little bit different from conventional methods but I like it.

Remember, it is ok to be unconventional. It is ok to be a little bit different. If it worries you, try this, just think that the other people are the strange ones for doing it their way. Hey it works for me, it might work for you.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Who's an introvert?

I'm going to say this once and once only. Being an introvert does not mean that you are shy. It does not mean that you can't get up in front of people and talk. All that being an introvert means is that you reenergise yourself by either being by yourself or with someone who you trust and enjoy their company.

Being an introvert does not mean that you are socially inept. It doesn't mean that you don't socialise. Of course you socialise, you just go home before a lot of other people.

Whatever you do, don't brainwash yourself into thinking that you are shy and that because you have discovered that you are a little bit introverted that you are never going to go out and socialise ever again. NO! Don't do that. Go out and have that beer. Enjoy yourself. Just know your limits.

Let me help you. Lets look at one famous person who may well be an introvert, Hillary Clinton. Yes, arguably the most famous women in the world at the moment. Is she going to be the next president of the United States of America? We will find out in six weeks or so.

Some people believe that she is an introvert. She probably is. Lets have a look at what we know. Well first of all she is married to Bill Clinton who I'm pretty sure is extroverted. This is not a science but you can find many instances of couples in which one person is out there while the one person stays within themselves a bit more.

Judging from what I have seen, heard and read I am willing to bet that the other main presidential candidate Donald Trump likes to recharge by himself or with his close family. Just because he is making all of these big announcements and controversial policies, that does not an extrovert make.

What I am saying is that you don't need to be a Red Bull swilling, partying, socialising person to do these kind of jobs. If you are intelligent. If you are a confident speaker. If you have a competent team behind you it doesn't matter how you recharge it just matters if you want to do it all not.

Being an introvert doesn't have to hold you back. In fact, it can even be an advantage. Use that advantage to better both yourself and the people around you and you will win every time.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The habits of success

This is a blog basically about the relationship between introverted people and extroverted people. However, sometimes it is good to branch out and talk about other things as at the end of the day, the blog is about life after all and we want to be happy and successful in our lives, right?

So, in saying that, lets talk about success and more specifically the habits for success.

1. Read every day

Regular readers will know that I try to do this with varying success. However the reading that I have done does contribute to this blog and the knowledge that I have gained can't be taken away so it is a very good habit to try and incorporate in your life.

2. Focus on high-level tasks

Basically what this one means is that you you have a bunch of tasks to do each day and some of them are going to be more important that others so make sure that you choose the ones that are moving you towards you goals and aspirations as opposed to just what is easy and convenient at the time. Stephen Covey in his famous book, The 7 habits of highly effective people talks about the important tasks and the urgent tasks. We tend to concentrate on urgent tasks because they need to be done when in fact the important tasks are going to have the most long-term impact. Number 1 in this list is a good example.

3. Make your health a priority 

I went to the gym before coming here to write this post. I'm trying to get myself fit unfortunately I sabotage that by eating bad food a lot. If I can organise myself in terms of food I think that I can become unstoppable. Food, like anything else is about organisation. It's time to stop only doing half a job and get the rest of the job done.

4. Learn from people you admire

This is where the read everyday habit can come into it. You read biographies or auto-biographies of famous people, people that you admire and that is when you can get ideas and expand your mind. When people say that their mentors are famous people, usually it is because they have read their books a lot as opposed to actually meeting them face to face.

5. Plan your day the night before

This is something that I don't do and I'm sure that it would only take a few minutes. It would save rushing around in the morning. You have everything ready and you shower and shave., have some breakfast and then you are out the door. Sounds good, doesn't it?

6. Keep your goals in front of you

If you don't have any goals I suggest you set aside a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and really have a think about what you want to achieve. With those in front of you then you are able to plan your day and have a purpose to what you are doing as opposed to just wandering which is what I have done in the past.

7. Take action, even when it's scary

Yes, this can be very, very, very difficult. Sometimes you just have to do it. Take a flying leap and see what is going to happen. You have to risk rejection, you have to risk humiliation, you have to risk embarrassment. It doesn't sound pretty, does it?

8. Have a powerful and inspiring "why."

Why are you getting up in the morning? Why are you doing what you are doing? Why do you want to achieve what you want to achieve? Basically, what is your purpose? If you have this you can get yourself out of bed on even the coldest of winter mornings and get to work

There you have it. Looking at list, it seems that I have some work to do and I am betting that so do you. Good luck and I hope everything works out of you. I'm sure it will if you follow these habits.

Monday, 26 September 2016

A couple of quotes for introverts

Here is a good quote I came across the other day. I'll write it out for you:

"I'm not open to many people. I'm usually quiet and I don't really like attention. So if I like you enough to show you the real me, you must be very special."

This have a look at this quote point by point.

1. I'm not open to many people. This is true in my case. I only have a few friends but I would do anything for these people and I'm sure they would do anything for me. We banter with each other and give each other shit but at the end of the day there is mutual respect.

2. I'm usually quiet and I don't really like attention. This is an interesting one for me personally. Yes I can be quiet but I do like the attention from time to time although today at my gym I was talked about in front of the whole class on two or three occasions. I must admit that it was a little bit uncomfortable for me at that time although it wasn't a deal breaker and I did go along with it but I would rather it didn't happen.

3. If I like you enough to show you the real me, you must be very special. Yes, yes, yes. As you have probably guessed by now I agree with this one. If I like someone and most importantly I trust someone then I'm going to confide in them things that I'm not going to tell everyone. I think that special is the perfect word because yes you are special and I will treat you as such. 

The second quote for today is this one. I'll write it out for you:

When you ask what I am doing today, and I say "nothing" It does not mean I am free. It means I am doing nothing. 

This is one that I have had problems in the past and I wish that I and the knowledge that I have now then because people will ask that what are you doing and then expect that it is an open invitation to ask you to do something. 

I prefer the idea that you ask "I am doing this, do you want to join me?" This makes it easier for the introvert. 

By the way, if you want to do nothing be strong and say no, I am doing nothing. Don't do as I did and and be weak and go along with the plan even if you didn't want to go. Be strong and you will be ready to go the next time you are asked ... or not. 

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Extroverts v Introverts Part 2

This is the second part of my commentary on this article. Yesterday, we talked about the first of six statements of Extroverts v Introverts. Today, lets talk about the last six statements.

1. Extroverts share their "business" with everyone .... Introverts share their "business" with hardly anyone.

This relates to that fact that extroverts generally like to talk. They get energy from being around people, talking to them, socialising with them so it goes without saying that yes they are are going to share a lot more than an introvert who will share things with only their closest friends or family.

2. Extroverts express themselves best by talking .... Introverts express themselves best by writing

Case in point, this blog. I'm expressing my thoughts and the like through this blog. I could probably express it in presentations but may struggle when talking about face to face in a social or casual conversation.

3. Extroverts enjoy casual conversation .... Introverts enjoy deep conversation.

Look at the above point. Introverts struggle with that casual conversation. Lets call a spade a spade , lets call it bullshitting because in a way from an introverted point of view it is a conversation about nothing at the end of the day.

Introverts prefer something a bit more in-depth. Something that they can have a real good think about and have a great conversation about. In a group of guys although an introvert may look as though he is being a guy and enjoying the sexual conquest story of his mates, in fact he probably isn't interested in it at all.

4. Extroverts are good at multi-tasking .... Introverts prefer to delve into one task at a time.

At the beginning of 2010 my extroverted friend said that we should do the Golden Hour activity which is read for one hour in your field. We extended that by exchanging emails about what we read. At the time I said that I would read one book.  My extroverted friends said and I quote, "Nah! You don't want to do that. That's boring. You should read about 3 at time."

I now know that for me personally that wasn't the best thing to do. I should really concentrate on one book. Read it well. Understand the contents well and apply what I have read. Unfortunately I haven't done that and it has cost me a bit. I need to get back to one book only.

5. Extroverts shine in group settings .... Introverts shine in one-on-one settings.

Yep, I couldn't say this any better. Extroverts love the energy of the group whole introverts love the one on one settings. I can't add to that.

6. Extroverts enjoy the limelight .... Introverts try to avoid the limelight

This time last year I walked into a bar in Roppongi, Tokyo and I saw someone who I had met a couple of times. I'm pretty sure that she wasn't drunk but she was in the middle of the dance floor basically holding court. She just loved it. People were shouting at her and every word shouted at her she was gaining more and more energy. She just loved that limelight. She was in her element.

There you have it, extroverts v introverts. I think the next step in this is to understand each other and know why someone is doing what they are doing.

In my experience introverts get it, the extrovert not so much.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Extroverts v Introverts Part 1

This is an interesting article about introverts here.

The particular part I enjoy about it is the Extroverts v Introverts section. Lets have a look at these ideas now.

1. Extroverts talk first and think later .... Introverts think first, and talk later. 

I remember watching the sitcom Friends a few years ago. One of the characters Chandler said that he got really frustrated because he would always think of the comeback to someone's barb the following day. I can relate to this because it has happened many times where someone has said something and I couldn't think of the comeback until 24 hours later.

Introverts do like to think first which can be a bit of a problem in today's extroverted society because if an introvert hesitates then the extrovert needs to fill the gap with some kind of noise. It is like when you hesitate at the traffic lights for 0.5 seconds, the person will let you know about it with their horn

2. Extroverts are skilled at talking .... Introverts are skilled at listening.

All of the literature says this to be true however I know that I am not the best listener in the world and it is definitely something that I need to work on and would hazard a guess that a lot of people out there have to work on their listening skills too.

3. Extroverts are energised by other people .... Introverts are drained by other people. 

This is Introvert/Extrovert 101. We are energised different ways and people on each side of the spectrum need to remember this. Extroverts, remember that introverts are not being anti-social, they are just being true to themselves by staying at home tonight rather than having the beer with you.

4. Extroverts talk out their thoughts ... Introverts ponder their thoughts.

I think that Introverts think too much. Sure they may be contemplating everything but you can only think so much about something before you need to take action. An example of this would be this blog post. I was thinking and thinking of a topic today and I literally couldn't think of anything. If I had my way I would still be thinking of something but I knew that I had to start to write something and as they say once you start, the ideas flow and you can get on a roll.

5. Extroverts are easy to read .... Introverts are hard to read

I suppose this one comes down to the dog v cat argument. Where dogs are very sociable and just basically want your attention, cats are a little bit harder to understand. They want you attention when you don't want to give it and they run away from you when you want to give their attention.

Because introverts are not as out there as the extroverts of this society we think they are difficult to read however this isn't always the case as an introvert will tell you something totally profound and you will wonder where it has come from but in all honesty it has been there the whole time.

6. Extroverts are friends with everyone .... Introverts are friends with a select few

All I can say to this one is Yes, Yes, Yes. You see it many times, the extrovert will have a party and there will be 700 people there. God knows how the birthday person knows everybody's names and whether they get around everyone in the night but from an introvert's point of view there seems to be a lot of air kissing and hugging going on and probably not a lot of in depth conversation going on either.

There it is six of the extroverts v introverts list. I'll talk about the remaining 6 from this article tomorrow.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Do opposites attract?

"Part of the beauty of an Introvert/Extrovert team is having someone you know will handle the things that drain you."

They say that opposites attract and you will find often that in a business partnership you might have one of each. The Apple Steve's come to mind. You have one guy who is the face of the company and the other guy who does a lot of work behind the scenes. The Apple Steve's needed each other and together, see what they developed.

You will also see one of each a lot in relationships. One person is quiet and the other person is a bit more out there. Maybe in a couple, one person is ready to go home while the other person is just warming up. Unless they realise that about each other, this can cause all sorts of problems.

I suppose in relationships we see things in the other person that we admire and we would like to have it in ourselves.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

I was told to shut up ...

I saw this quote the other day from an extrovert:

"It's funny how when I'm loud, people tell me to be quiet, but when I'm quiet, people ask me what's wrong with me."

I remember when I was younger and living in New Zealand, I would play cricket every weekend in the summer. I started at school and then moved on to a club.

I remember vividly one day when I went to the clubrooms after a game to have a couple of beers to either celebrate our win or to think about our loss.

Anyway, we were talking in a group about the game and then one guy turned to me and said "Yogi" (that was my nickname at the time) "shut up." I knew exactly what he was saying and why he was saying it but it really annoyed me probably because it drew attention to me that I didn't really want.

Some people can get a little uncomfortable with people who don't say much. Sometimes it is best to me a little animated to just keep the peace but as we all know that can be tiring.

The above quote probably resonates with a lot of extroverts, not the been told to be quiet part but the been asked are you ok if you are quiet. I'm sure it annoys extroverts as much as been told to shut up did to me many years ago.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Inspiring performances at the Olympics

This year in Rio de Janeiro the 2016 Summer Olympics were held and as usual there were some inspiring performances by athletes from all over the world

Today I would like to talk about three performances from the last 25 years that have really struck a cord with me. Performances that I have looked for on Youtube from time to time.

You might be surprised to know that of the three performances none of them are New Zealanders. Actually two of them are Australians so I can't be accused of bias here.

First of all, I would like to go back to 1992 and the Barcelona Olympics. The favourite to win the women’s 1500 meters was the world champion Hassiba Boulmerka.

She started off the race hanging in the pack and in the last lap sprinted away to win the gold medal. 

What really got me was the way she celebrated. She didn’t have a smile on her face but she almost had an angry expression and it almost seemed like she was mouthing off to the cameras. That struck me as weird but didn’t think much about it until a few years later when thanks to Wikipedia I was able to look her up and find out why she had that emotion?

You see, Hassiba Boulmerka is from Algeria and what is the major religion in Algeria? Yes, Islam. Boulmerka ran the race in shorts and singlet like everyone else in the race. The problem was that the religious conservative people did not like it so when she won her country’s first ever gold medal at the Olympics she was giving the big FU to some of the people back home.

Boulmerka had overcome a great deal. She couldn’t train in Algeria so she showed that she was really tough and I will remember that race for a long time.

After putting this video on this blog, I was reading the comments and it seems that only certain elements of the Algerian were against her and most were for her which is very nice to see. 

The second gold medal performance was from the Sydney Olympics in 2000. The main gold medal prospect out side of the swimming pool for Australia was the one and only Cathy Freeman. Cathy Freeman had won the silver medal at Atlanta in 1996 and was one of the favorites for the 400 meters in Sydney and because it was in Australia there was added pressure. 

Cathy Freeman also had the honour of lighting the Olympic flame in the Opening Ceremony so she was almost the poster child of the games and the pressure on her to deliver was immense.

She started the race slowly but by the 200 meters she got into her stride and sprinted away on the home strait to win. The reason I remember this race was not the Australian crowd going nuts for the 40 odd seconds that it took her to run the race, what I remember about the race was the absolute look of relief on Cathy Freeman’s face. 

There was no smile; there was no wave to the crowd it was just relief.  Like the weight of the world was lifted from her shoulders. I almost felt sorry for her in a weird way. It took her a few minutes to get up and do her lap of honour.

The last gold medal performance I would like to show you a photo. Do you know who the guy on the left is?

This is Steven Bradbury. He won Australia’s first ever Winter Olympic gold medal at the Salt Lake City Olympic games in 2002. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo in 2011. When I heard that he was speaking I was one of the first to buy tickets.

Steven Bradbury won a gold medal in the 1000 metres short track speed skating. I was lucky enough to be watching it on TV and it is my favourite Olympic Games moment.

Bradbury was in the final with four other competitors, an American, a Canadian, a Chinese and a South Korean. 

He started off slowly and was last throughout the entire race until the final lap. The competitors came into the last corner and to put a long story short, they all fell over except for Stephen Bradbury who skated across the line with a look of surprise on his face. 

My instant thought was “shit he won.” Even though I am a proud Kiwi I thought good on him, well done.

In 2011 I went to his presentation where he talked about that particular Olympic Games. He said that he had got through to the final by skating behind everyone and then they all fell over and he made it through to the final. He said since that worked in the semis why should he change his tactics for the final.

Immediately after winning the final, Steven Bradbury was confused. What should he do? Should he accept the gold medal, then he thought, “I will not be accepting the medal for the race today, I’m going to accept it for the last twelve years of training.”

He has become somewhat of a celebrity in Australia and does frequent public speaking. 

When I went and talked to him after his presentation I said you have probably been asked this question many times and he said I know what you are going to ask and I said can I ask you anyway, he said yes. I said what to did you think when you crossed that line? He said “Shit I won.”

What do all of these athletes have in common? They all had a dream and went for it. I think that is what we should all do. 

Let me finish this post by quoting Will Smith from the movie The Pursuit of Happyness.

“Don’t ever let anybody tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. "You got a dream... You gotta protect it. People can't do somethin' themselves, they wanna tell you, you can't do it. If you want somethin', go get it. Period."

These Olympians had a dream and they went and got it.