Category Archives: Diversity

What’s Your Ikigai (Reason for Being)?

Wikipedia lends the following definition:

Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced [ikiɡai]) is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” It is similar to the French phrase Raison d’être. Everyone, according to Japanese culture, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is important to the cultural belief that discovering one’s ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life.[1] Examples include work, hobbies and raising children.[2]

The term ikigai compounds two Japanese words: iki (wikt:生き?) meaning “life; alive” and kai (甲斐) “(an) effect; (a) result; (a) fruit; (a) worth; (a) use; (a) benefit; (no, little) avail” (sequentially voiced as gai) “a reason for living [being alive]; a meaning for [to] life; what [something that] makes life worth living; a raison d’etre”.[3]

In the culture of Okinawaikigai is thought of as “a reason to get up in the morning”; that is, a reason to enjoy life. In a TED TalkDan Buettner suggested ikigai as one of the reasons people in the area had such long lives.[4]

The word ikigai is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. Secondly, the word is used to refer to mental and spiritual circumstances under which individuals feel that their lives are valuable. It’s not necessarily linked to one’s economic status or the present state of society. Even if a person feels that the present is dark, but they have a goal in mind, they may feel ikigai. Behaviours that make us feel ikigai are not actions we are forced to take—these are natural and spontaneous actions.

In the article named Ikigai — jibun no kanosei, kaikasaseru katei (“Ikigai: the process of allowing the self’s possibilities to blossom”) Kobayashi Tsukasa says that “people can feel real ikigai only when, on the basis of personal maturity, the satisfaction of various desires, love and happiness, encounters with others, and a sense of the value of life, they proceed toward self-realization.”[1][5]

My Ikigai is to stay active and perpetuate the rich API culture through my hobbies – dancing hula, paddling outriggers, and teaching karate.  Working out in the dojo taught me more about surviving and thriving in Corporate America as a single mom than any self-help seminar or MBA could have.  Recently, I opened a karate dojo as my passion project.  We focus on the values of Respect, Discipline, and Self-Confidence to help our students find their Ikigai.

Ikigai JaeRequiro

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#TeamTogisala #togisalashorinryu #fitlife #GirlPower #respect #discipline #focus #selfconfidence #selfdefense #dojoOhana #ikigai

lessons learned from a leadership journeys #diversity #leadership

I’ve been asked to speak at a conference this summer.  It will probably be my last national presentation as a leader at the Japanese car company where I have been employed for almost nineteen years.  As a diversity leader, I can make a presentation and share insights, stories, and experiences with attendees around career development or business strategies.  That is bland and dry as over toasted Wonder Bread.  The sound of the teacher from “Peanuts” would be echoing in my own ears as I spoke on that topic.  Blah, blah, blah, diversity, blah, blah, blah, business impact, blah, blah, blah, leadership, blah, blah, blah.  Instead, I want to tell a story.  I want to share some thoughts on standout moments and lessons learned from my leadership journey as a small business owner, karate instructor and brand-new Shodan.

The conference is by far my favorite event of the year.  It is an event designed to bring together multicultural women from corporations all over the globe.  It takes place in NYC and it provides an outlet for high-achieving and high potential multicultural women to be confident, courageous and take the next steps in paving the way for a stronger, more inclusive, and more trusting environment. The theme for this year’s conference, Race to Trust, reflects an intention to create a conference that inspires higher cross-cultural understanding and explores concerns among women that trust in the workplace is on the decline due to the current cultural and social trends.   My favorite part of this conference is meeting powerful and inspirational women of color from different industries and I have made several friends at the event over the years.

If I think about this opportunity as my last, I have to consider what my legacy will be.  My biggest accomplishment at the Japanese car company where I have been employed for almost 19 years are employee resource groups.  We started with 2 in 2001, just as pilots, while I worked with HR, Legal, and senior leaders to craft a policy that made all levels of the organization comfortable.  Now there are over 60 chapters across North America, with new groups being created in offices in Canada, Baja, and Puerto Rico.  I was dubbed the “Godmother of Business Partnering Groups.”  Where’s my fairy dust and magic wand???

However, I think that a presentation about 2016 would be more interesting to me.  We discovered that our dojo was operating without a business license or insurance for years, as we were told that we were losing the lease to our old studio.  I elected to become the small business owner created the S-Corp, purchased all the insurance and licenses, found a location, and continue my quest to become an instructor.  During the Summer of 2016, we taught karate in my backyard, on the stiff grass.  It wasn’t until late July 2016 that we moved into the new studio.

Now I am processing all of the emotions that I experienced last year to get the business launched.  All of this happened while I faced the end of my tenure with the Japanese automotive company where I continued to work full time, my daughter started her senior year of high school, and my boyfriend finalized his divorce.  Stress on top of stress on top of change on top of stress.  2016 weighed heavily on my shoulders…  more to come

Cultural Humility

This is a piece released by my colleague, Janet Bennett.  I’ve been so depressed since the election that I’ve needed to take some time to rejuvenate and pull myself out of this funk. My career is founded on creating space for people to bring their full selves, all of their differences and all of their life experiences to the workplace.  Cultural Humility is a critical component of creating an inclusive workplace so I thought I would share this.

 

Cultural humility refers to respecting the validity of other peoples’ culture

 

It involves:

 

  • Recognizing that different, even conflicting, cultural perspectives can be equally legitimate

 

  • Suspending judgment

 

  • Questioning the primacy of our own perspective

 

  • Assuming we may not know what is really going on

 

  • Clarifying what is expected

 

  • Allowing others to direct us in appropriate behavior

 

  • Accepting the creative tension of holding two or more different perspectives

 

  • Seeking the “third culture” common ground for effective interactions

 

 

 

 

Adapted from “Cultural Humility: A Way of Being in the World” by Alan Guskin, Antioch Notes, Vol. 59, #1, Fall 1991, Antioch Publications Office, Yellow Springs, OH.

 

 

Janet M. Bennett, Ph.D, © 2006

Back on Track #trainmean Discipline, Respect and Humility

So far, 2017 has rolled over me.  We have lost family members and friends in our personal lives.  That means memorial services, funerals and lots and lots of tears.  At times, I’ve had to be strong enough to hold my loved ones up.  Other times, I’ve cried into my pillow or sobbed in the parking lot at work to let it out.  We hosted family from out of state after being away for a week for SuperGrands and sandwiched in between the sorrow, I’ve had to travel for business so I can network for my future career.  2017 has been whirlwind of frenetic activity.
My intention was to start training for my next race back in November 2016.  I wanted to train for 12 weeks to work on my race pace.  My goal was achievable but challenging.  In my first half marathon back in 2012, I ran a 13 minute mile and finished the race in 3 hours.  Somehow that race wound up being 13.98 miles instead of 13.1 but whatever.  A 13 minute mile for a half marathon is my race pace when I don’t prepare and the weather conditions are mild, not too hot or cold.


My best time has been a 13.64 mile race at 12:21 miles/minute and a time of 2 hours 48 minutes.  That race was the 2015 Avengers Half Marathon, which I did in conjunction with the Captain America 10K.  The two races together were marketed by RunDisney as the “Infinity Gauntlet Challenge – a 10K early Saturday morning and a half marathon the next morning on Sunday.  I took that training really seriously because I was concerned about whether my body could handle that many miles over one weekend because #ihaterunning.  That training paid off:  my body was in very good shape, my stamina was excellent, and my confidence was very high.  The root of those positive results:  fit body, better stamina and higher self-confidence, are founded in core values for the dojo, two that we carry-over from Rabago Shorin Ryu:  Discipline and Respect.  I would like to add a third core value that I want to include for Togisala Shorin Ryu Dojo:  Humility.

This word “Discipline” is defined by Webster as:  “1.  Punishment 2. obsolete Instruction 3. A field of study 4. Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.”  In their Children’s Dictionary, “Discipline” is defined as “Strict training that corrects or strengthens mental ability or moral character.”  That defines what we want to teach in the dojo.  My training for half marathons fulfills the role of reinforcing the importance of my own discipline in training and conditioning my body.  Last year, I focused 50% of my energy on my day job, raising Kanoe, and being a good girlfriend; 35% of my energy on opening up the new studio; and 15% of my energy on my own training.  I would never approve of one our students only putting in 15% of their energy towards training and I had been very down on myself for that.  But life was filled with many barriers taking up my time after November.  December’s calendar listed business trips, a halau Christmas concert performance, the dojo Christmas party, and SuperGrands.  Honest reasons but not good excuses for being less than  disciplined on my training.

I already mentioned what January felt like for us.  And it all led to depression and health issues for us.  We are focusing on  getting his blood pressure under control and managing his blood sugars to get off of medication.  That takes discipline on both of our parts.  I need to ensure that we have healthy meals to eat and lots of opportunities for exercise and healthy distractions.  He must resist the temptation of sugary foods and drinks and the habit of mindless, late night snacking.  This discipline is critical to his health. Our lives are so intertwined because we live together and we share the responsibilities of running the dojo.  His health impacts my health and vice versa.

Our second core value for Togisala Shorin Ryu, “Respect” may sound simple.  The word is used every day in formal and casual conversations. However, the dictionary defines this word as a noun that means, “A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” In addition, as a verb, the definitions reads as, “Admire (someone or something) deeply, as  result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”  What would that look like when one enters the dojo?  Students must bow before they walk onto the mat to train.  In addition, we bow to a photo of the late Sensei Rabago, who taught both Sensei Butch and me, of Rabago Shorin Ryu.  Before we start class to stretch and warm-up, we show respect by bowing to our Sensei and Sempai.  In addition, students must bow to one another while doing partner drills together.  If they are sparring, tapping gloves shows respect that each student will show good sportsmanship.  Winning is always celebrated with Respect.  Show-boating when winning is frowned upon.  Crying when losing is also not allowed.  We want to teach our students to Respect the lesson in each match or each drill.  Showing courtesy by using the words, “thank you” and “please” also builds Respect. Having such Respect starts with Discipline.  Many children start martial arts at such a young age that they don’t consciously understand these concepts but I trust that consistency and setting a good example will allow them to internalize these lessons.


But a more difficult value to teach and learn is the word, “Humility.”  I am going to spend more time processing this definition and tying it to our teaching at Togisala Shorin Ryu.  Look for a new blog post building on this one soon.  I need to go tend to our new puppy.  I want to name her “Kihon” (look up this Japanese word, if you don’t know what it means).


 

 

 

 

#SuperGrands 2016 Mon 12/26/16


Today is December 26, 2016. We are in North Carolina to register for SuperGrands. Team Togisala has combined with Team Dojo of South Carolina to form Team Dojo Elite. Professor Angie Abad-Mancia and her son are also here from Abad-Mancia MA to compete. 

Sensei Butch has come out of an 18 year retirement to compete this year. He still holds the record for most consecutive world title wins in Men’s Japanese/Okinawan Forms 1993-1997. And as the story goes, Sensei Butch was in the finals with his teammate Sensei Marcus Young in 1998 and bowed out of the finals.  Perhaps that would have been six consecutive wins in Men’s Japanese/Okinawan Forms. 

2016 has been a turbulent year for Team Togisala. We unexpectedly lost our lease and had to move our of our dojo space in May. I spent March, April, and May looking for a new dojo space, applying for a business license, purchasing unsuccessful coverage, preparing for E Hula Mau, all while I managed my full-time career at Toyota Financial Services. It felt like every minute was consumed with karate, hula and Toyota. And as exhausting as it felt, I loved every minute of it. All the emotions could be channeled into my hula, and when our group placed third, my tears flowed freely. 

For the summer months of June and July, classes were held old school style in my backyard on the grass. July was the month of Samoan construction. They even rocked rubber flip flop slippers in lieu of work boots. Sensei Butch and Sensei Frisco, along with his nephew, built ponywalls and painted them black for our new dojo space. I visited Home Depot on a weekly basis to purchase all the necessary materials. Dojo moms and students helped us clean and sanitize the mats that were stored in my garage. It was truly a team effort. By August, we had moved into the new dojo on Torrance Blvd and every month things are getting better and better. 

At the moment, I am waiting for the team to finish registering. I will keep logging photos and blog posts here all week. It will help me shake off my nerves. 


Team Togisala aka Team Dojo Elite West Coast


Airport selfie 


Sensei Butch is ready! 

#SuperGrands 2016 Mon 12/26/16 Part 2 

Monday Late Afternoon:  Time for practice. Kamaka, Marcos and Natalia are running their weapons for tomorrow’s tournament. (I think I need a separate blog post about how horrible American Airlines has been to Team Togisala throughout this trip. Kamaka and Buddha’s weapons didn’t arrive until Monday Afternoon!)

They’ve all been working hard. Sensei Butch and Professor Angie are having them run their weapons kata and providing feedback on every movement, stance, kiai, facial expression. Everything. 

This tournament is going to be a challenge. Not only is it bigger than any tournament we have attended in the past, as West Coast competitors we are not known. And like it or not, politics always plays a role in competitions. 

Our combined team, Team Dojo Elite, met in Sensei Brian Pena’s room so all competitors could connect and say Hello. This is also the first SuperGrands for many of the students from Team Dojo. When Sensei Brian asked if each of us were nervous or excited, we had an equal number of “nervous” as we did “excited”.    Personally, I’m so excited for the kids who are competing. This is an extraordinary opportunity for a young person to experience. And it is heart-warming to see the pride and love of their parents and family members who are able to travel with them. The competitors have worked for months and months, they will have one shot to show the judges what they’ve learned. 

Speaking of one shot. I’m not telling the precise truth on that. We watched two black belts from Sensei Brian’s dojo compete in musical team forms Monday evening. Despite the delay of over 90 minutes, Miss Pena and Miss Hunnicutt stayed focused and nailed their team kata set to music. When we saw them in May, I had commented that they are perfect for team forms because they move in such a similar manner and their body types are the same. I would have pegged them for a shoe-in for top two in this division. I know Sensei Brian and Sensei Butch were proud of their performance, despite how the scoring went. Great work, Sensei Allie and Sensei Jill. 

And, we witnessed the “do over” rule last night. If a competitor drops her or his weapon, that competitor is allowed the opportunity to completely start their routine over. And one team entered this division twice under two different black belt/dojo names. So they were able to do their routine twice and were scored twice. In addition, one of the competitors dropped his weapon each time they competed and the do over rule meant they got to restart with no penalty to their score. In the end, that team did their routine four times and wound up placing 1st or 2nd and qualified to go to the finale. 
Personally, I don’t think black belts or any level of competitor should be allowed to restart their routine in a tournament. Perhaps beginners should be allowed that grace, White to Orange belts.  I can understand giving them a chance to start over and build their confidence in competing. But for more experienced competitors, that’s what we train for, the three minutes we have to do our kata or weapons forms in front of three judges. It felt wrong to allow so many competitors two chances. And it took three times as long to complete the divisions because of that “do over”rule. That rule left a bad taste in my mouth last night. 

And yet, Tuesday is another day. We have five of our So Cal competitors up:  Mr Cool, Kamaka, Buddah, Cy and Professor Angie. They’re going to kill it!