Posts Tagged ‘Art of abundance’

Flexible Focus #75: Tofu Wars and the Art of Abundance

by William Reed on October 27, 2011

Tofu Wars: Battle of the Bean Curd

In the current crisis people in Japan are actually fighting over Tofu, one of Japan’s premier soybean products, in what might be called the Battle of the Bean Curd.

A search in Japanese for the words 豆腐激安 (tofu gekiyasu, or drastically discounted tofu) brings up nearly 350,000 sites!

Tofu comes in various price ranges, a small block retailing for 160 yen might be a typical price, but some supermarkets are offering Tofu blocks for as low as 29 yen.

Since they are estimated to be purchasing the product for around 36 yen wholesale, this is clearly a loss leader, designed to draw customers into the store.

And it works, according to interviews featured on a recent newscast, as shoppers get more and more price conscious to save money wherever they can. This is great news for consumers, but it is killing the specialist Tofu producers, who depend on this single product and its variations for their livelihood.

Tofu makers pride themselves on maintaining quality, and also producing original tofu products through variations on a theme.

But the price difference between the Tofu specialty shops, and the supermarkets who are almost giving it away, is so significant that it has decimated the specialty shops. In some areas, the number of specialty shops surviving is down to one in ten from its former level, a disaster by any measure.

The character above is the word for Abundance (豊 yutaka), and interestingly is made of two radicals, the upper radical meaning melody (曲) and the lower radical meaning bean (豆).

It may take a stretch of the imagination to connect melodious beans to abundance, wealth, and richness, but it is a happy image, and abundance is different from the scarcity mentality which leads to winner-takes-all competition.

If you live in Japan, it might be worth visiting a Tofu Specialty Shop, and ask them the difference that makes their products better than the discounted Tofu slabs sold at supermarkets.

There is even a Japan Tofu Association which is dedicated to educating people about how to enjoy and benefit from this healthy food.

Supermarkets need to attract customers too, but do they need to focus on a single product as a loss leader, to the point where they decimate the neighborhood specialty shops?

  • Why not rotate among different products to reduce the damage, and still provide consumers with an incentive to shop for bargains?
  • Specialty shops for their part, would do well to educate consumers online about what makes their products special, and worth the difference in price.
  • Can you think of other examples where superstores are flattening local producers because of a similar price war?
  • As a consumer, do you think about the consequences of your purchases when you fill your cart with low-priced items?

Food for thought.

Enough for everybody

The interesting thing about scarcity is that it surfaces the underlying mentality that was there all the time. Scarcity can bring out patience and the spirit of community, as it did following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that shook Japan at the roots; or it can trigger riots and panic in the spirit of every man for himself.

This is not something that you cultivate at the last minute, but rather the result of the culture, or the cultivation that precedes the occurrence. It is in fact the fruits of the underlying mentality, not the outward conditions that we see. Abundance vs Scarcity. Enough for everybody, or get yours while you can.

We see this played out in the world’s economies. It is precisely the scarcity mentality which causes even the very wealthy to play a stingy and greedy game. And it is also the abundance mentality which enables truly wealthy people to be generous and leave a legacy that helps others. The former suffer from tunnel vision (either/or), while the latter see the world in full surround (both/and). A broad field of vision is characteristic of flexible focus, and is the best way we can be open to creative solutions that help everyone, rather than just the self-serving.

Use the Mandala Chart to open your mind to the mentality of abundance, and demonstrate what you know through what you do.

Flexible Focus #17: Determine your destiny

by William Reed on September 2, 2010

Do you believe that you can determine your destiny? A lot hangs in the balance of how you answer that question.

Destiny is a word often associated with fate and inevitability. Destiny is how you face up to that which you cannot control. But it is also your destination, the place where you are destined to go. It is both your lot and your luck,  but how it works out in the end depends on your attitude and focus.

In this series, we have compared the Mandala Chart to a lens. Flexible focus is not just for clarity and perspective, it also applies to concentration and action. A magnifying glass can concentrate sunlight into heat and burn a hole through paper. The Mandala Chart is like a lens that can focus your mental energy to get results.

In fact, it can add a new dimension to the Law of Attraction, one which is practical and action-oriented. Start small to gain focus in getting things done, meeting a deadline, or start a new project. Determining your destiny need not begin on a grand scale. Though your destination might be far away, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Whereas wishful thinking is aversive to action, flexible focus enables you to reach out through the mist and make use of all of the resources you have at hand.

We are far from having explored the limits of the possible. The history of human experience has shown time and again that when the mind can visualize it can materialize. The important thing is to give shape to your thoughts. Write them down, sketch them out, speak your dreams and make them happen.

The attitude for this is known in Japanese as kokorozashi (志),  literally the soul (心) of the samurai (士), and all that it implies in terms of courage, calling, and conviction. The biggest thing that stands between you and your destiny is not something outside of you, but the fear, uncertainty, and doubt in your own mind which saps your energy (迷), literally the loss (辶) of energy (米).

Regardless of how many reasons or resources you have, if you lack the energy to determine your destiny, then everything will come to nothing. Energy is the great multiplier, and the real measure of your strength. You cannot have enough of it. If you have a surplus, then share the wealth. It is one of the good things in life that is contagious.

If your energy is low, there are a number of things you can do to increase it.

  • Motivate yourself with music. It keeps your attention, tells a story, taps into memories and emotions, and is ever enjoyable. Here are some great resources you can access online to get you started.
    • Make it Happen, by Mariah Carey (lyrics and video): Mariah moves Madison Square Garden, and she can move you. Read the lyrics too.
    • 40 Motivational Songs for Goal Setting: Incredible playlist of music videos by artists who have rocked the world. Watch them all.
    • Runner’s World’s Music for Motivation Playlists for Runners: Playlists of top world runners which you can download from iTunes. Give them a run.
    • Tap videos from my own favorites at http://blip.fm/willreed: Top artists of Tap will get you grounded and ready in rhythm. Put energy and finesse in your footwork.
  • Get your body moving. Once you get on your feet, whether you choose to walk or run, you can gain inspiration from the marathon. The change of pace and environment, the fresh air and sunshine, the sheer momentum of moving your feet will generate enough energy to put the process in motion.
  • Eat properly. Food is your basic fuel, providing your body with the ingredients it needs to stay alive and healthy. But eating too much of the wrong kinds of food can not only sap your strength, over time it can kill you. Food can make or break you. Get the facts, find what works best for you, and eat properly.
  • Get coaching. Sometimes we need a catalyst to get moving. Whether you are looking for clarity, focus, or motivation, the right coach can be a key partner in your success. Personal chemistry is critical in choosing a coach, but first inform yourself of the many options and approaches, and select the one that fits you best.
  • Put life in perspective. When you lack perspective then all of the reasons why turn into reasons why not to take action. Procrastination is the thief of time. After getting the broader picture it is easier to return to the field with conviction on the most important question of all, Why are you here?
  • Declare your commitment. The desire for internal consistency is very powerful. No one likes to lie to themselves. If you have a sincere commitment, then declare it to others and watch how this puts positive pressure on you to keep your word. Don’t take your promises lightly, or you may stop believing in them yourself.
  • Read for inspiration. Well-selected reading gives you access to a vast library of ideas and approaches that can fire your imagination with inspiration. Read for emotional and practical motivation, for new ideas, and for pleasure. Whether you read books and articles, or dip into the digital world, make sure that your environment supports a pleasurable reading experience. This will encourage you to come back for more.
  • Get traction through action. The most powerful and persuasive factor in determining your destiny is taking action. When your actions are in alignment with your destiny, then you carry the torch which will light your way.

Eight ways to increase your energy and determine your destiny. Consider them in combination by downloading the PDF file Mandala Chart DETERMINE YOUR DESTINY.

From the lyrics to the song by R. Kelley, I Believe I can Fly

If I can see it, then I can do it
If I just believe it, there’s nothing to it