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After a week in Kagoshima and Yakushima, known for its agriculture, I want to pay tribute to Japanese mastery and continuoius improvement.

Kagoshima is famous for its black Kurobuta pork perfected from the black Berkshire pig gifted by the UK.

Despite what you hear about over-worked Japanese office workers, a culture that coined the term Karoshi or death by over-work, it does not apply to farm animals. Pigs do get depression. Farmers know that unhappy pigs do not produce good meat. So they keep pigs happy with exercise and clean food.

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This month while some are on holiday, Alibaba founder, Jack Ma made headlines advising young people the need to work 996, 9am to 9pm, 6 days a week.

Shortly after, he made an about turn when he drew a lot of negativity.

In a sense Jack Ma is not wrong. Malcolm Gladwell popularised the concept of “deliberate practice” or 10,000 hours rule that to achieve excellence, deliberate practice is needed. There is no true genius without hard work.

What is the difference between an overworked employee or a workaholic and a high performer?

Mastery
Autonomy and
Sense of Purpose or Meaning.

Research abounds that working long hours with high stress is unproductive and harmful to the body. Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/332234

Hours do not translate to high stress.

Stress is caused by interpretation of the work, whether it is aligned to the individual’s motivation, sense of control and purpose.

Giving an individual more autonomy can ironically create more stress, if the individual has a low sense of self efficacy and external locus of control, ie they do not believe they have power to change their circumstances and are helpless victims of fate.

Some organisations have moved to using personality profiling to detect similarities in their top performers and recruit employees with a better fit.

Employees who link work to skills mastery, and career purpose are more engaged. (Daniel Pink).

To my 3rd year student who is wondering why he should bring home over the weekend for his internship:

Questions to reflect:

Mastery and Personal Excellence
1. Do the long hours contribute to personal mastery or deep skills?

Or

2. Are the long hours the result of inefficiency, wasting time waiting for inputs or misguided attention?

3. How much of work can be automated?

4. Does personality differences make a difference in an ideal employee?

5. Is your boss abusing her authorities or is hard work the norm?

6. Do you believe you can make changes to your work and a personal difference? Self efficacy. Do you have an internal locus of control.

How will you know?
Keep a personal scoreboard. Track your activities. Do they match personal, department, organisation or community goals?

As they say, if you enjoy your work, you never need to work a single day.

Jack Ma to his employees:
“Don’t make me happy, don’t love me. Make your customer happy, make your customer love you, and I will love you any minute.‘”

Jack Ma U-turns on 996 work culture, says companies ‘foolish’ to force overtime

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From IQ to EQ to AQ

Adaptability Quotient

Anticipate needs and create opportunities
Drive positive energy
Accelerate constant innovation
Partner: exchange ideas and
Trust: mutual growth

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Photo credit: himself taken at the Singapore Bird Park.

According to a study by Kornferry only 15% of leaders have what it takes to self- disrupt and be ready for the future.

How are you equipping yourself for this change?

Introducing: A new breed of future-ready leaders – Korn Ferry Focus
https://focus.kornferry.com/leadership-and-talent/introducing-a-new-breed-of-future-ready-leaders/

Let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be fish. Ovid 17 BC.

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At Enabling Village

Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me. Carl Sandburg

‘Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out’, Art Linkletter

15% of students (postgrad or undergrad) I’ve met in universities have an idea where they are going in their career. Majority have no idea. Many feel embarrassed even, that they don’t have a passion.

How can I follow my passion, if I don’t know what it is?

I recently discovered this theory, “Planned Happenstance”, although this theory was developed in 1999 by Mitchell, Levin and Krumboltz.

Planned (having arranged the parts) + Happen (to occur by chance) + Stance (a view or attitude).

‘At the core of this theory is the fact that unpredictable social factors, chance events and environmental factors are important influences on our lives.’ John Krumboltz

Planned happenstance theory proposes that career counselors can assist clients to develop five skills to recognize, create, and use chance as career opportunities.

Happenstance opens up sources of new and non-redundant information. Our destiny can change in that one moment.

These skills are relevant for all of us.

1. Curiosity: explore new learning opportunities. Try a variety of activities, to discover what you like or dislike. A lunchtime talk ? A new sport?

This happened to one of my clients who was at a lunchtime talk at his church and sat next to a headhunter working on a project up his alley.

Or my friend AT, in her thirties, found her lifetime partner, at a friend’s wedding dinner. She nearly did not attend because of work commitments. Its not only in the movies.

2. Persistence: keep trying despite setbacks. Mistakes and failures can provide great learning experiences.

3. Flexibility: change attitudes and events. If things don’t go as planned, look for new opportunities as they crop up. Find out top 3 trends impacting your industry.

4. Optimism: believe that opportunities are within reach. Be ready for it. Pick up that skill now.

5. Risk Taking: take action, small steps even in the face of uncertain outcomes. Have lunch with a different colleague every week. Volunteer to do the next company presentation. Champion a cause at the next Townhall meeting.

In “Fail Fast, Fail Often”, the authors cite Jeff Dyer’s research that people who live in a new country for 3 months are 35% more likely to start a new business or invent a new product.

Some ideas
▪Map your luck, map areas of repetition and sameness in your life and replace with activities that bring new experience.
▪Talk to someone you don’t yet know on your course or place of work
▪Learn how to articulate your strengths and interests
▪Look for opportunities to develop new skills
▪Research a new company/ product
▪Do an internship
▪Get a LinkedIn account for networking, research and exploration
▪Keep a learning journal to help you stay motivated
▪Reward yourself, do an activity you enjoy

More ideas:

Luck Is No Accident: Making the Most of Happenstance in Your Life and Career. Krumboltz, J., & Levin, A.S. (2004) Impact Publishers.

Planned Happenstance: Constructing Unexpected Career Opportunities Kathleen E. Mitchell Al S. Levin John D. Krumboltz, JOURNAL OF COUNSELING & DEVELOPMENT, SPRING 1999, VOLUME 77

Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win: Ryan Babineaux, John Krumboltz