Understanding Japan (2): Structured mentality

January 15, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

DRUM

An old axiom says: “We do what we think”. But if you are not entirely convinced of it, you can confirm it by watching some enormous Japan’s steel structures: They are safe, hermetic and framed like… the way people think in that country.

     The common use and selection of a word over others in a region is not something done at random or on a whim, but this selection represents the way of being and thinking of the people who live there. If you travel to Japan, frequent words that you will hear are “omou” (think), “yotei” (plan), “shinpai” (worried) y “anzen” (safe). These words can give us a clue about the basis on which Japanese personality is forged and established: Japanese people can only find peace of mind when all things are under control (I mean, everything is well planned and safe). Therefore, if possible, their activities should leave no room for improvisation. Let’s see an example:

     In Japan, the beginning of a new year is not in January, but in spring, when the fiscal and schools year really begin and new employees will make their “debut”. During this time, you can go to any ceremony and the person in charge of delivering the introductory speech will make quickly reference to the end of the winter, and above all, the arrival of the spring and well known Japanese cherry blossoms. In that regard, everything, every word is planned throughout to a point that you will find books to write speeches for all occasions: funerals, weddings, etc.

CHERRY-BLOSSOMS-2

     This kind of fixed and schematic mentality is instilled into Japanese people at early age until it becomes a feature of their personality and something very common. As a result of this, things should be inside a foreseeable frame. If something is out of it, anxiety and some kind of sense of unease will be haunting them, sometimes with terrible consequences. So, they will be working, as many hours as necessary until the unexpected and new situation turns into an old one, that is, something that can be handle according to the “handbook” they have for each case.

     Compared to other ways of thinking, the Japanese mentality provides one of the best chances for success thanks to its constant emphasis on planning, security and logical answers for problems. In fact, it has been the key that has kept Japan for so many years with a solid economic growth despite its situation after the Second World War.

     The other side of the coin, however, does not seem to be so good. Trying to keep everything under absolute “control”, trying to find perfection everywhere has created “uncontrollable” levels of stress that have pushed more than 30000 people every year to commit suicide for decades. If Tanaka, to cite an example, forgets the keys to open the place where a party will be held and Kawauchi forgets the drinking glasses, because of the delay that this situation creates, even though it has not started yet, the party will be considered a failure. And the most important thing: Since Japanese people do not forgive as quickly as they say “gomennasai” (ごめんなさい=I am sorry), Tanaka and Kawauchi will face tough times. Without any intention of falling into stereotypes, in the same situation, but with different people in a Latin American country, the party had probably started right there: in front of the closed door. Someone who, by the way, was not the person in charge of the drinking glasses would have gone to the house of a supposed friend near the place to get them and… at the end, everybody would have gone home joking about the problems they had to start the party, laughing and saying that they enjoyed the party a lot. This story can teach us that flexibility during contingencies is as important as planning.

     Japanese mentality shies away from uncertain situations. However, uncertainty might also be a “friend” when it comes to inventions. Note that most of greatest inventions that have changed the world have not come from Japan, but from USA, England, France, Italy and other European countries. Japan has improved them, as it has done with cars, bullet trains, etc.

     Finally, we can conclude that if some aspects that characterized the way of thinking and acting in other cultures, like a good dose of humor, flexibility and certain amount of drive in the face of the unknown is added to the Japanese mentality, we could have found an incredible method of thinking that can solve not only many of your personal problems, but can help to have a better world too.

Copyright 2017 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.

Advertisements

Tell me the answer: What is the best move when you do not know what to do?

January 14, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

STRESS

A waiting move, because any precipitous action leads most of the time to failure. A waiting move is typical of analytical games, especially of chess. It is used when the situation is not clear, so you just make a move that will not compromise your position until you can see something better.

Copyright 2017 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.


A good laugh: The smart student

December 17, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

CHICKEN

“This is my drawing, Miss Beetle.” A boy said to his teacher.

“A blank page?”

No! It is a fast chicken eating corn grains, but it ate all of them already.”

“And, where is the chicken?”

“It ran away!”

Copyright 2016 littlethings4all.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.


Hillary Clinton did not fail. Her political team did

December 13, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

hillary

For winners, things turn into a bed of roses or, at least, can be seen through rose-tinted glasses. Even your enemies will become your friends, by the way, suddenly. But don’t lose if you don’t want to be surrounded by detractors and people who are not able to tell you how to win, but will surely give you a string of reasons for which you were defeated. Hillary Clinton’s defeat during U.S. Presidential elections is not an exception. From journalists to politicians, from a barber in his barbershop to his clients, many people in general were trying to explain why she lost to Donald Trump, on the grounds that she could not recruit enough voters from the Hispanic sectors, she could not attract women’s votes, etc.

     And the question is… What’s new about all of this? Are not the same things that sank her in 2008 against Barack Obama? We all know that Hillary Clinton has never been a charismatic political leader. She is, in fact, the product of hard work, a lot of money and fame. So, those reasons mentioned before, are somehow her political weakness, a ballast that she wanted, but couldn’t drop it.

     When the most evident part is only thought, subtleties cannot be seen or understood. These subtleties happened just days before the elections and cost Hillary to be out of the White House today. I am referring to the moment when her double-digit lead was reduced to 4%~5% after the FBI director, James Comey, decided to reopen Hillary Clinton’s email server case. This mere lead could have been enough for a politician like Obama, for example, and perhaps, even for Bernie Sanders if he had been in Clinton’s position, but not for her because Hillary Clinton had proved in the past that she is not a person who can unify her party around her.

     And how did her political team respond to this delicate situation? With two terrible mistakes: First, to counteract by attacking the wrong target, Donald Trump’s wife, instead of attacking Trump directly. Second, to rest on its laurels by considering the lead as enough for a victory. These two mistakes were, in my opinion, the real reasons that made that election night one of the longest, if not the longest night ever for Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion with Eddy Montilla.

Copyright 2016 littlethings4all.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.


The crucial mistakes of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil

November 29, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

sao-paulo

Those who have watched the fireworks can understand better the turbulent career in politics that Dilma Rousseff has had in Brazil. A dazzling display of fireworks lits up the sky, people enjoy them and, minutes later, they cannot even remember their colors and shapes. Something similar happened to Brazil’s first woman president. If the almost incredible and efficient shinkansen cleaning system in Japan is subject of study in Harvard University, Rousseff’s case should be also studied because of its oddity. How could this lady go from a loved president to an impeached one, from a removed president from office to a forgotten president in her own land. Her two crucial mistakes can tell us the answer.

     First: Her inability to show, especially when dealing with problems that involved men, that she could be a person of strong character like anyone else In Brazil, corruption and bribery have always been acting like a pair of lovebirds. If during her presidential terms, problems related to these aspects had a huge impact, the reason must be found in her excessive gentleness towards some government employees, a mistake that was used by her political adversaries to take advantage of it. When she had to act like a hangman (in a figurative sense), she took an indulgent stance.

     Second: Not to be surrounded by people loyal to her. During difficult times for a president, loyal people will help him or her to stay standing. That was not Rousseff’s case since the more imminent her removal from office was, the more difficult to find people at her side was. In politics, of course, it is hard to foresee who is going to be loyal and who is going to be a traitor because the last one can be from your chef to your vice president.

     You do not cry over your mistakes, but learn from them. In Brazil, sooner or later, other women will hold the presidency of that South American nation. This is my recommendation for them: Be ready to become a hangman (in a figurative sense), if it is necessary, be careful of opportunists and traitors if you do not want to be forgotten or leave through the back door as Dilma Rousseff had to do.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion with Eddy Montilla.

Copyright 2016 littlethings4all.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.


Thought of the day: Planning

November 27, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

PLAN

To plan your life and work will not solve all your problems, but it will lighten your burden because a lack of planning leads to the beginning of chaos.


Thought of the day: Change

November 7, 2016

By Eddy Montilla.

change

Only two things are unavoidable in life: Death and change. About the first one, it is almost nothing what we can do. As for changes, specially these days when we undergo constant transformations at a rhythm that our society had not been seen or faced with in the past, you should be smart enough to accept them, to accept their existence and reality to avoid failure and great stress. And after that, be wise to adhere to those changes that really matter while putting the others far away from you.

Copyright 2016 littlethingsforall.wordpress.com. All rights are reserved.