Posts Tagged ‘william reed’

Time For a Change #5: The Power of One Page

by William Reed on March 8, 2012

The benefits of brevity

Considering the value of your time, would you rather receive a one page summary, or a 50 page report? People don’t want to go deeper unless they have first been convinced of the value by a short summary, a great title, or a brief introduction. Books are sold by browsing the cover and table of contents. Samples always lead sales.

If you want to earn the attention of your listener a one page summary is not only a courtesy, it is a requirement. If the short version is good, the long version is bound to be even better.

What makes your one page powerful?

Here are the essential ingredients which make your message powerful, especially when you nest it on a single page.

  • Understandable. Expressing your message in compact form creates a key for understanding. The message is only complete when this key unlocks the same understanding in others. Do not assume that because an idea makes sense to you, that others will understand it just by explanation. Communication is a bridge that helps ideas to pass back and forth between people. That bridge must be easy to cross.
  • Memorable. Once the bridge is crossed, you must ensure that the other person can remember your message. Understanding does not guarantee recall. Unless you provide memory hooks with visual anchors, metaphors, and emotional impact, chances are that your message will be forgotten by nightfall. Make your message stick.
  • Remarkable. If your message is interesting enough, people want to talk or remark about it to others. The easiest way to make your message remarkable is to convey it through a story. Information is ordinary, but knowledge and wisdom makes it extraordinary.
  • Motivating. The real measure of your message is in how it inspires people to take action or change their behavior. Motivation is putting people into motion. If you want a response to your call to action, your message should be enticing, help solve a problem, or promise to make things better.

How to present your message

Whether your message is printed on paper or displayed on a screen, it is more powerful when it appears on a single page. Avoid the temptation to cram as much information as possible in the space available. For effective communication less is more. Select photos or illustrations which reinforce and resonate with your message. Useless or decorative clip art will only dilute your message. It is more effective to integrate a powerful phrase with good graphic design. A good source of information on how to do this is Garr Reynold’s blog Presentation Zen.

The need for attractive and informative display of visual information has created a new media form known as infographics. To see the variety of creative ways in which information can be graphically displayed, look at examples of social media infographics. News and business magazines are another excellent source of ideas and infographics.

The Mandala Chart is a 3×3 matrix which structures a group of eight ideas around a central theme on a single page. Each idea on the chart is indexed by a letter or number, so it is easy to navigate and present to others. The art and applications of creating Mandala Charts is covered in depth in my Flexible Focus column on activegarage.com

One Sheets are a compact way of displaying information such as a speaker’s bio, a seminar, or product description. Roger C. Parker has written a number of excellent articles on how to create One Sheets as a personal branding tool, including Best Practices and 6 Questions your One Sheet must answer. This tool serves as a promotional poster, and is often better than a brochure.

You can download a Mandala chart here, summarizing these ideas with questions to help you express your ideas with ONE PAGE POWER.

You are the message

The messenger is always more important than the message. No matter how good your graphics, your message will fall flat if you lack confidence or authenticity in how you present it.

Examples of professional slides and graphics can make you feel like you cannot do this without hiring a graphic artist. However, there are many ways to create quality one page presentations on your own. You can model the professional graphic designers without directly copying them by using ideas and elements that you like. You will be far more effective at presenting something you have created yourself, than by showing something you simply found on the Internet, and people will instantly know the difference.

The discipline of expressing your ideas on a single page helps you find the essential elements of your message. Remove anything that you might be tempted to include, if it is not directly related to your central theme.

The most effective way to present your slide, proposal, or one sheet is to read it aloud. Leave it with the other person as a summary of what you present, as a supplement not a substitute for your presentation. If you cannot convey your message clearly in conversation, chances are that it will not be much clearer on paper.

NoteCalligraphy by William Reed. 書面 (shomen) means document. The message is that what goes on paper should be full of life energy

Fountains have long been a feature of human habitation, and are a central feature in gardens in many cultures. The sight and sound of flowing water is refreshing and inspiring. Water features are an important element in Feng Shui as a means of enhancing energy flow. Ever and yet never the same, water is a symbol of the Way of the Universe in Taoism.

We bathe in water, and drink it to sustain our life. Perhaps water calls to our oceanic origins, or simply resonates well with the senses and the body, itself being 60% water. With the brain being composed of 70% water, and the blood more than 80% water, it is no wonder that we speak of the water of life.

Flowing water both enhances and entrances us. The sound of water rings like chimes in the wind, and is perhaps nature’s finest music. We return to water to feel renewal in the quality of flow. We can also look for active ways to participate in the flow, particularly in enhancing the flow of ideas.

Thoughts in flow

Deepak Chopra, MD and author of books on spirituality and mind-body medicine, says that while scientists claim that we have around 65,000 thoughts a day, 98% of them are the same thoughts that we had yesterday. While repetitious thoughts may be necessary for repetitive tasks and routines, it also suggests that our thinking is almost completely caught in a closed loop.

Assuming that there is at least some room for improvement, and that for the sake of our well-being it is worth exploring new mental territory, what can we do to break the cycle of sameness and stimulate a fresh flow of ideas? A constant flow of ideas can help you tap into new fountains of thought, wisdom, and youth.

Here are a eight things you can do get your thoughts in flow. They are inexpensive and accessible, and will keep your thoughts flowing like water, rather than frozen in stone.

  1. Water. Engage with water every day. Bathe in it, drink it, and enjoy the sight and sound of its flow. While this may seem to be something that you already do, chances are you can do it with greater mindfulness and appreciation. Don’t dry out before your time.
  2. Music. We are blessed with greater access to music than ever before, higher fidelity recordings, and portability, and even opportunities to learn and produce music ourselves. Music can refresh and stimulate your brain. Don’t let it slip by unnoticed.
  3. Walking. To get your blood moving, exercise your whole body, give you a change in perspective, and wake up your brain, there is almost no finer way than walking. If your ideas are not flowing, trying getting off your seat and onto your feet.
  4. Writing. Put your thoughts into words on paper, where they can be read and shared with others. Whether you write at a keyboard or in a notebook is not as important as whether or not you write at all. Many people avoid writing because of negative associations picked up at school. However, it is still one of the best ways to get your thoughts moving and your head clear.
  5. Reading. Books are food for your brain, and can nourish it if you read selectively. It isn’t the number of books you read, or how fast you read them, but rather the degree to which you interact with them intelligently. Read thoughtfully, take notes, and vary your reading speed according to content and purpose.
  6. Questioning. Children ask hundreds of questions a day, adults ask few. Questions are fine food for thought and good conversation starters. Keep a written list of questions and don’t let it gather any dust.
  7. Sketching. Many children draw daily, while most adults do not draw at all. Sketching and doodling stimulate the brain, helping you to visualize and remember abstract things. Don’t worry if you lack artistic skill. Drawing icons and sketching stick figures can be even more effective at stimulating ideas than making detailed realistic drawings.
  8. Laughing. Not only is laughter the best medicine, it is the shortest path between ideas. Laughter is the body’s way of processing things which don’t easily fit in one part of the brain or another. When unlikely things suddenly come together in a surprising or entertaining way, that makes us laugh. This leads to sudden insights and fresh perspectives.

You can download a Mandala Chart here with self-coaching questions to help you get your THOUGHTS IN FLOW.

Why more ideas?

F. Scott Fitzgerald said that, “the true test of a first-rate mind is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time.” The way this is done is not by holding them at all, but rather by juggling them in a balanced pattern that keeps the ideas in flow. Ideas move people and catalyze change. New ideas are not always welcome, particularly when change is perceived as a threat to the status quo. The only dangerous idea is the idea that all other ideas are dangerous.

If you want to change yourself, you need to change your thoughts. If you want to change others, you need to influence their thinking. If you want to change your environment, you need to find new ways of engaging with it. Change starts when your thoughts and ideas get into flow, and it comes about when that flow is powerful enough to get other things and people moving. Time for a change? Prime your mind for a constant flow of ideas.

Time For a Change #3: The Trap of Tunnel Vision

by William Reed on February 23, 2012

A common trap in thinking about goals is tunnel vision, or single-minded pursuit of a goal. It is defined as “recklessly determined to do something at any cost,” or hell bent, which should give you an idea of its destination.

While this may be the only way out for a cornered rat, it is no way to live your life. And yet we see it over and over again with consequences such as burn out, chronic fatigue, and high-speed collisions along the career path. Tunnel vision is like being in a rut and on steroids. The destination is fixed, and everything else is sacrificed in its achievement.

Horse-drawn carriages usually featured blinders to keep the horses from being distracted by things to the sides of the road. While it would feel strange for a person to walk around with blinders on, many people walk through life with mental blinders.

This shows when the eyes have a very narrow field of vision. Such a person will pass you by on the street without noticing you, entirely caught up in their own world. In extreme cases you see it in the eyes of the terrorist, fixed in one direction and to one purpose. You can get a sense for a person’s field of vision by looking at a photograph of the face. Hold the picture in front of your face, and move it slowly to the side. You can sense the moment that you leave their field of vision. Do the same thing with a portrait painting or photograph mounted on the wall. In works of genius, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the eyes seem to see you wherever you stand, a testimony to the Master’s all encompassing field of vision.

Loosen the tension around your eyes, particularly when you think about your goal. You may discover an easier way to achieve it, and a gentler way to approach it.

Recover your rhythm

Have you ever worked in a fixed posture for hours without break? If you work like this at a computer, work with your hands in small area, or even driving a car, your nerves and muscles become fixed to the task, and you experience a physical form of tunnel vision. If you do this too often then the tension itself can become chronic. Physical activity can help, but unless you change your mindset the tension will quickly return.

The first thing in recovering your rhythm is to increase your awareness. There are four elements you can check in your mindset, which are summarized in a Mandala Chart that you can download here entitled Recover Your Rhythm.

  • Check Yourself. Part of the tunnel vision trap is being so focused on your goal that you become blinded to your own tension and behavior. Becoming aware of tension in and around your eyes is the first step to releasing it. Single minded goal pursuit also reveals itself in conversation, being fixated on a single topic. Keep an eye on how you spend your time, so that your days are not dominated by a single activity.
  • Check Others. We can learn about ourselves by observing others, and the influence that they may be having on us. Seek out the company of broad minded people. Encourage other people to talk about their goals and it will help you find perspective on your own. Maintain a flexible perspective to avoid picking up the tension of single minded people around you.
  • Check Your Goal. The goals which are not written down are the ones which tend to trap us, because lack of clarity increases anxiety. The better your understanding of your goal, the more ways you find of achieving it, and the more you will enjoy the journey without the pressure of tunnel vision. Divide your goal into manageable sub-goals that you can work towards in a tangible time frame.
  • Check Your Results. Regardless of how relaxed you might feel, you still want to achieve your goal, and that requires focusing on results. Review and rewrite your goal statement to keep it fresh. Talking about your goal with others can help you monitor your progress and celebrate your success. If you want to achieve accelerated action, then give GOALSCAPE™software a try. It can help you define, track, and reach your goals with less stress.

The Recover Your Rhythm Mandala Chart also contains strategies to help you overcome or avoid the trap of tunnel vision such as, make a wish list to free your imagination, get help from others to lighten your load, take five to get your nose off the grindstone, and forgive and forget to take a more light-hearted approach.

Ask a group of people if they know somebody with tunnel vision, and most of the hands will go up. Ask for a show of hands if you yourself have tunnel vision, and most of the hands will go down. The truth is that we all have it to some degree. Fortunately, we also have the capacity to recognize the trap before we fall into it. Ultimately the cause and the cure are in your mindset.

Soften your focus

The Japanese word for Mind is 心 (kokoro), suggesting an entity that is constantly changing (korokoro kawaru) and one that tends to tighten up (koru). Like clay, the mind needs softening with water to prevent it from hardening into a fixed shape. The mind tends to tighten up when you succumb to tunnel vision. It often afflicts people who work too hard, like a bow which kept strung until it breaks. The best thing for such a person is to recover the rhythm of pressure and release.

It is fine to be firm with yourself in pursuit of an important goal, because without self-discipline it is unlikely to be accomplished. But balance firmness with forgiveness. It is when you loosen up and unstring the bow that you are able to recover your perspective, and free yourself from tunnel vision.

Time For a Change #2: Lighting Your Fire

by William Reed on February 17, 2012

Make no mistake about it. Goals start and end with Passion, the essential ingredient in motivation. Passion is the energy that feeds the flame, without which your project is doomed to falter.

The quintessential question is how can you light this fire in yourself brightly enough to inspire others to help you achieve your goals? You cannot do it alone, and people need more than just a reason to help you, they need to share your passion.

The quintessential challenge is finding intrinsic motivation, love of the thing itself, which is the only kind of motivation strong enough to overcome obstacles and sustain your energy to achieve your goal. Many people get trapped in the pursuit of a goal which may not even be their own, agreeing to exchange their time and life energy for money or rewards of convenience.

As Daniel Pink points out in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, motivation is an evolutionary process. It started out with what he calls Motivation 1.0, the survival instinct which drives us to escape danger and protect ourselves. It evolved into Motivation 2.0, the carrot and the stick, the elaborate system of reward and punishment by which most people live and most companies manage. However, there is a far more powerful and sustainable force which he calls Motivation 3.0, that of intrinsic motivation, the passion that drives you regardless of rewards or restrictions.

RSA Animate created a remarkable 10-minute animated video presentation of Daniel Pink’s Drive, which he calls whiteboard magic, illustrating part of a talk he did for TED.com. This is the science and persuasion behind Motivation 3.0. That is fine for those lucky enough to have figured out and committed themselves to their true passion in life.

What is needed is something to help light the fire for those who haven’t. Some suggest starting with a blank sheet of paper to write out your ideas, but when your mind is blank, then blank paper looks…blank! It is easier by far to start with a template to assist and seed your thoughts. To help you find and focus your passion you can start with a Mandala Chart that you can download here: Lighting Your Fire.

This Mandala Chart contains questions that will help you frame the East, West, South, and North of your Passion, the WHAT, WHY, WHO, and HOW that help you position where you are and where you want to be. It doesn’t matter if you are not able to answer the questions in detail. At the beginning, asking the question is more important than answering it.

You may find yourself in a job or career that doesn’t feel right for you, even though it is how you earn your living. Don’t simply quit or change jobs without deeply considering where you are and what you want. You may find in your new job that some things are better, some things are worse, but overall you are worse off than before due to acting without clarity.

Once you find your Passion, even if only in a hobby or volunteer project, then you naturally gain more energy to pursue it, more solutions to implement, and meet more like-minded people who can help you. The ring of fire is a virtuous circle of success. It is only when that flame dies that you find yourself in a vicious circle of defeat.

4 Rs to reach your goals

As important as Passion is, it requires focus to get results. You can be long on enthusiasm and short on results. There are many factors that come into play in making things happen, but if you take care of four fundamentals, then you will have a start. These are also included in the Lighting Your Fire Mandala Chart.

  1. Rewards. The key thing to determine here is whether you are motivated by passion, or by promises and threats. It may take you ten years to figure out how to live by passion rather than compromise. However long it takes, it must be better than wondering at the end why you wasted the years of your life. At the same time, there is no need to be a perfectionist in your pursuit of your passion. Enjoy the journey as much as the destination, the process as much as the product.
  2. Restrictions. Most people can come up with more reasons why they cannot pursue their passion than why they should. They have got it backwards, because the largest obstacles are those which you cannot see, those formed by your own assumptions and lack of knowledge. One reason why education leads to achievement is that it broadens horizons and opens up opportunities for new ways of looking at and doing things. Even if the obstacles seem obvious, write them down and take a closer look. You may find with Pogo that, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
  3. Rituals. Repetition is the key to reinforcement, and ritual is the means to repetition. Your rituals are your habits, the things that you perform regularly without effort, and that you return to, to remember and reinforce your passion. Rituals may be formal or informal, but should not be an empty routine. When you train in a martial arts dojo, you are performing a ritual to take you deeper on the Path. Top athletes have rituals that they create and perform to get into their zone of top performance. All cultures create rituals for the survival and continuity of the culture. Be flexible in how you think about and perform rituals, but include them to keep your Passion burning strong.
  4. Resources. Assuming that there is a gap between your present state and where you want to be, you will need resources to help you realize your Passion. It is worthwhile to take an inventory of what you may already have, and ask yourself if you are putting it to the most effective use. As you meet people with like-minded passions, you will be able to share and contribute resources. One plus one in the right combination equals far more than two. If you want to achieve something great, then you will need a great strategy and superior tools to match.

Before you get too deep into planning and implementation, make sure that you are working in the service of your Passion. Trade your time for money if you must, but reinvest your time and money in the things that will make your life worth living, and your legacy worth loving. All of the efficiency in the world will not light your fire if you are missing the quintessential flame of Passion.

When Bob Dylan released his third studio album in 1964, The Times They Are a Changin’, the powerful message spoke to the times. But this message was hardly anything new. The ancient Greek Philosopher Heraclitus (535~475 BC) was a philosopher of change, famous for the saying that, “You never step into the same river twice.” And well before that the ancient Chinese compiled the I Ching, or Book of Changes, dating back to the 2nd and 3rd Millennium BC.

It is almost redundant to say that it is Time for a Change, except that this is a universal and timeless theme, always true, and always relevant to you. Nevertheless, the tools and means of change vary with the times. It is never too late to review who and where you are as the world changes.

Even change itself is changing, through the process of Accelerating Change. Futurologists from Buckminster Fuller (Geodesic Dome) to Alvin Tofler (Future Shock) and John Naisbitt (Megatrends) have delineated the process and the paradigm shifts in technology, social, and cultural change. Change is no longer in the domain of specialists, because we all experience it deeply in our own lives.

Ask yourself what you were doing 5 years ago, or 10 years ago, and chances are you have experienced major changes in your career or personal life, many of which you had no idea were coming. It is fair to predict that the same thing will be true 5 to 10 years hence. The purpose of this new column is to provide perspective on change, and introduce innovative ways in which we can navigate and benefit from it.

Following the structure of my previous column Flexible Focus, this weekly column will also cover topics in 8 major categories:

  • Goals and Flexible Focus
  • Problems in Goal Pursuit
  • Creative Ideas and Focussed Action
  • Presenting Goals to Others
  • Secrets of Collaboration Success
  • Templates for Problem Solving
  • Goals in the 8 Fields of Life
  • 8 Principles of Mandala Thinking

Many people think that they need to get ready for change, or even try to prevent it. Yet once you recognize that change is inevitable it makes sense to shift your thinking and find ways to be ready, to welcome and initiate change.

Think of it as a paradigm shift from being passive to staying proactive.

Our constant companion in this process is Time. We will look at ways in which to measure, manage, and manipulate time through your attitude and the use of powerful tools for Goal planning and implementation.

We do not travel alone. We will look at the importance of communication and partnership in achieving great things that you could not on your own.

Learning from experience is not always the best way to leverage your success. We will look at guiding principles, tools, and templates that can reduce the long journey of our predecessors to a shorter path for our ourselves that those who follow us.

While change can be wrenching and hard, it can also be invigorating and inspiring. So much depends on how we view and engage with it. Join us in this journey, and let us join you in yours.

EMC QUEST Corporation publishes new book, A ZOOM LENS FOR YOUR LIFE. The book is by Active Garage columnist – William Reed, speaker, columnist, and martial artist, who also serves as Chairman and Representative Director of EMC QUEST.

This is a book of practical wisdom, exploring how you can develop flexible focus using the the powerful lens of the Mandala Chart to bring your life into balance, and your goals into focus.

It combines age-old questions with actionable ideas and tools, and helps you turn your dreams into real achievements. It is the first book ever to introduce the Mandala Chart in English, and contains many nuggets of wisdom which help you make the most of each day at work, at home, at play.

Each chapter explores the Mandala from a new perspective, with compact and insightful ideas for business and personal performance.

When read on an ebook reader such as Kindle, readers can also access the concepts through the online dictionary and web access, use the notes and highlight feature, and share passages on Facebook. This is particularly useful for readers for whom English may be a second language, making it possible to improve your English while you read the ZOOM LENS content. It is also a powerful companion for the EMC QUEST Personal Coaching Program.

A ZOOM LENS FOR YOUR LIFE is divided into 4 parts and 16 chapters:

Table of Contents

PART ONE: NAVIGATION

  • Chapter One: Are Goals Traps or Opportunities?
  • Chapter Two: Oceans of Opportunity
  • Chapter Three: The Principle of Interdependence
  • Chapter Four: The Principle of Initiative

PART TWO: MASTERY

  • Chapter Five: The Eight Frames of Life—Health
  • Chapter Six: The Eight Frames of Life—Business
  • Chapter Seven: The Mandala Business Diary
  • Chapter Eight: Finding Focus in the Frames

PART THREE: RESONANCE

  • Chapter Nine: The Magic Eye of Metaphor
  • Chapter Ten: The Art of Making Sense
  • Chapter Eleven: Inside the Lines
  • Chapter Twelve: The Wonderful World of Flow

PART FOUR: FREEDOM

  • Chapter Thirteen: The Decision Trap
  • Chapter Fourteen: The One Year Plan
  • Chapter Fifteen: Determine Your Destiny
  • Chapter Sixteen: Move Less, Attract More

From the introduction

“Imagine if your view of the world was restricted to what you can see in front of your face. This was the case for much of human history. It is hard to fathom to what extent technology has changed our view of the world, giving us zoom access to the outer reaches of space, the microscopic world, cameras transcending time and space, and the web connecting our world.

What if there was a tool that acted as a zoom lens for your life? What if you could step away from the fray to see the big picture, zero in for analysis or action, without losing track of how everything is connected? The Mandala Chart is just such a tool, acting as a viewfinder with flexible focus. In all periods of history, the people with flexible focus have been able to dance circles around the rest.

The Biggest Room in the World…

My personal belief is that the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement. This is a proactive philosophy of always experimenting and implementing to improve.”

Words of Praise for ZOOM LENS FOR YOUR LIFE…

“A Zoom Lens for Your Life is an excellent introduction to the Mandala Chart, providing multiple windows on the method, and inviting readers to explore more.” ~Matsumura Yasuo, Founder of the Mandala Chart Method.

“What William Reed brings to us in A Zoom Lens for Your Life is a checklist, of sorts, on how to make the most of each day at work, at home, at play. And he accomplishes this through the use of the age-old Mandala.” ~Mark Gresham, Director of Cambridge University Press, Japan

“A Zoom Lens for Your Life is a practical book for business people, and it contains many nuggets of wisdom from Japanese culture.” ~Higuchi Takeo, Director of Idea-Marathon Institute

“A Zoom Lens For Your Life will help you prepare for an uncertain tomorrow, the only kind of tomorrow most of us will face.” ~ Bruce Rosenstein, Author, Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker’s Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life

“The concept of the Mandala approach offers a powerful and realistic way to realize the important personal goals we set for ourselves.” ~Dermot Killoran, President of Calderwood Productions, Tokyo

“William Reed in A Zoom Lens for Your Life outlines how and why this ancient chart can be used to great effect in realizing our goals.” ~Philip T Gibb, President,British Chamber of Commerce in Japan

A ZOOM LENS FOR YOUR LIFE is available in digital form on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and can also be purchased in hard copy from Lulu.com and CreateSpace.

Flexible Focus #76: The Art of Abundance

by William Reed on November 4, 2011

In the last eight articles we have looked at themes related to significance and focus, finding what matters most. Revisiting these articles will help you re-explore the territories where we have been, and see also how they fit together. These selections also correspond to the primary eight categories covered in the series, so this review provides an overview of one trip around the wheel, and also reflects the amazing range of topics possible to address with the Mandala Chart.

The images are assembled in the Mandala shown here, referenced from the articles and downloads below. In the conventional Mandala fashion, they are marked A (bottom center), B (left center), C (top center), D (right center), E (bottom left), F (top left), G (top right), F (bottom right).

Here are a few notes to set your thoughts in motion. For easy reference, and to trigger new insights, download the Mandala Charts and review the original articles from each of the links below.

A FLEXIBLE MINDSCAPE (From Flexible Focus #67: A-Chart vs B-Chart)

The history of civilization is filled with fascinating examples of people who were unable to see or appreciate new points of view.

In this series we have introduced two levels of focus for the Mandala Chart, the 9 frame A-Chart 3X3 Matrix and the 64 frame B-Chart 8X8 Matrix, developed by Matsumura Yasuo, the founder of the Mandala Chart Method. You might compare them to two different levels of magnification in a telescope or a microscope, where the shift of focus instantly transports you to a new world. Only in this case the same lens can take you to either the microscopic or the telescopic view, in any mindscape you can imagine.

Moreover, like the longitude and latitude lines we impose on the earth for navigation, the Chart can help you get your bearings and understand the relationship of the parts to the whole. Without this you are like a mariner set adrift at sea without compass, map, or sextant. No wonder so many people are lost in life.

The difference with the Mandala Chart is that instead of a GPS (Global Positioning System), it serves as an LPS (Life Positioning System).

 

ONGOING RENEWAL (From Flexible Focus #68: The Principle of Improvisation)

The juggler maintains control by letting go. The only way to maintain the juggling pattern, or any other improvisation, is to continually catch and release.

The 8th Principle of the Mandala Chart is the Principle of Improvisation. This is the spirit of continuous improvement, the promise of ongoing renewal. Everyone encounters obstacles in life. How you face and overcome them is the key to your character, and ultimately to what you experience in life.

Why do people resist change, when it is the only constant in life? One reason is the fear of loss of control, even though the degree of control itself is dubious from the start. The Mandala Chart reminds us that our world is complexly constructed, and that it appears very differently depending on how we frame it. So many factors are beyond our direct control that the only real control that we may have is in how we look at and engage with it.

Rather than wrestling with things over which you have little or no control, why not master your mind through the Mandala?

 

THE ROYAL ROAD TO ENJOYMENT (From Flexible Focus #69: The 8 Frames of Life—Leisure)

Another way to view the frame of Leisure is not as a separate compartment, but as an element of each and every frame.

Children laugh between 300~400 times a day, whereas in adults the number drops to less than 20. What happened to them?!

According to Dr. Madan Kataria, Founder of the Laughter Yoga Movement, adults need a reason to laugh, whereas children laugh for laughter’s sake, as the sun shines and water flows. One characteristic of children’s laughter is that it always come with active play. Perhaps adults laugh little because by comparison they are relatively sedentary.

In Aikido training we frequently laugh as we throw and and are thrown on the mat. The humor is not like slapstick comedy, as when somebody slips on a banana peel. Nor is from an intellectual play on words, nor a twist in an improbable situation, nor is it disrespectful. The laughter in Aikido is similar to the laughter of child’s play. It simply can’t be helped.

Find something that you can engage with in such a way that it makes you laugh! In Japanese this kind of activity is known as a shumi (趣味)often translated as a hobby or pastime, but the etymology of the characters (走 (run) + 取 (take) = to go towards. 味 = to taste) show it to mean a joyful pursuit. To run after, to taste, and to enjoy!

Laughter is at the core of Leisure, the 8th Frame of Life in the Mandala Chart. No matter how much money you spend on leisure, without laughter it is all a grim business. Store bought pleasure doesn’t dig as deep, or last as long as the enjoyment that wells up from inside. Leisure should be rejuvenating, invigorating, delighting, yet when forced it can be draining, damaging, debauching.

Leisure is not just for weekends and holiday vacations. It is something that you can enjoy all year round, even as you work, if you approach it with the right spirit, that of enjoying what you do. Perhaps the 8th category could be renamed Laughter, the royal road to enjoyment.

 

SWIM UPSTREAM (From Flexible Focus #70: The Carp of Creativity)

In time the resistance you felt in front of you seems to be replaced by a counter current pushing from behind which drives you forward and keeps you in creative flow.

If you have ever been in Japan in early May then you will remember how the landscape is covered with carp streamer kites (koinobori), suspended on high poles and streaming in the wind. These are to celebrate Children’s Day (Boy’s Day) on May 5th, and are flown in hopes that boys will grow up strong and healthy. This national holiday follows the Girl’s Day Japanese Doll Festival on March 3rd. The symbolism of the koinobori is based on the legend that the carp swims against the stream, climbs a waterfall, and becomes a dragon. It is a powerful picture of the power of swimming against the stream, the very opposite of going with the flow.

Author Steven Pressfield wrote a book called The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, which describes a process by which writers, artists, musicians, and anyone engaged in a creative endeavor can overcome the internal and external resistance which comes of swimming upstream to create something new. In some ways, the stream acts and filters out all of those who lack the resolve to press through and create something new. After all, it is much easier to simply allow yourself to be swept along with whatever else goes downstream. As Pressfield says, it takes a special mindset to overcome resistance and achieve the unlived life within.

You need something other than sheer will power to help you navigate against the stream. You need fins and a strong tail to weave your way against the current and overcome gravity. When it comes to publishing and presenting, the Mandala Chart can give you an added advantage in this process.

 

ANATOMY OF A FAN (From Flexible Focus #71: The 3rd Mandala Chart Festival 2011)

The vision for the future is to make the Mandala Chart Method widely available in analog and digital form, so that people may practice and benefit from it wherever they be.

The 3rd Annual MANDALA CHART FESTIVAL was held in Tokyo on Saturday 24 November 2011. With over 100 attendees, participants enjoyed presentations, recognition of contest winners, a experts panel discussion, introduction of new Mandala products, and a party to meet and make new friends. The Festival Keynote was delivered  by the founder of the Mandala Chart method, Matsumura Yasuo, with presentation from one of the directors of the Mandala Chart Association, a presentation on how to study Peter Drucker’s philosophy with the Mandala Chart, as well as celebration of success stories using the Mandala Chart method.

This was the 3rd year for the festival to be held, and it was with some reservations with the mood in the wake of the March 11 Earthquake and Tsunami disaster. However, the Association decided to hold the festival because of the importance of Mandala Chart education and applications to Japanese society, and to support those who are already dedicated to its practice.

Participants each received a full color copy of the 41 Mandala Chart Contest entries, from which 13 prizes were awarded for excellence and originality, as well as for effectiveness in applications ranging from business management to personal growth. Each entry was in the form of an A-Chart or a B-Chart, featured on the right hand page opposite an explanation of the Chart on the facing page. The explanation itself was in the format of an A-Chart, with the Theme in the center, surrounded by A) Profile, B) Overview, C) Application, D) Benefits, E) Recommended for, F) Why now?, G) Future Projects, and H) In a Word.

Serving as one of the directors of the Mandala Chart Association, I also made an entry in Japanese, the English translation of which appeared in an earlier article in this series, Flexible Focus #63: SAMURAI WALK.

 

RITUAL ENHANCES ENGAGEMENT (From Flexible Focus #73: The Power of Ritual!)

The coolest thing that I have discovered about ritual is that the more you engage with it, the more it transforms from a routine into a journey of discovery.

 

There is an energy crisis that rarely makes the front page, yet affects you each and every day. That is the internal energy crisis that comes from lack of full engagement in what you do.

Energy is a combination of spirit and vigor, which determines how much you enjoy your work, contributes to your staying power, and improves your performance. The crisis occurs when you do not have enough energy to meet and surpass expectations.

If your energy is not up to the task, then you are likely to perform poorly or put it off until later, neither way a productive strategy. Continuing to work like this will lead to burnout, or put you in the cue for the exit door.

If you feel out of synch like this, it is easy to blame the boss, complain about your colleagues, or decide that you deserve better. And perhaps you do. The problem is that entitlement has never been a ticket to empowerment.

The superior strategy is to navigate with full engagement, because its energy empowers you to enjoy and accomplish more, and actually increases your options on the path.

One of the most useful ways to generate energy is the power of ritual, developing a personal power routine. Institutionalized ritual is nothing new. It has been practiced for centuries as a means of cultivating energy in groups. It has also proved effective in enhancing performance in sports, and many top athletes stick to their rituals religiously.

 

FROM METHOD TO MASTERY (From Flexible Focus #74: Ritual Empowerment)

Without practice you will end up with more froth than finish. This applies as much in life as it does in the dojo.

One of the purposes of ritual is to develop personal power, to make yourself strong first, so that you can then go out and help others become strong.

People often confuse ritual with routine, when in fact they are nearly opposite. Routines dull your senses and crush your spirit, whereas when practiced properly rituals can renew your mind and body.

An essential way to discover something new is to visit the same place.

This was known by Confucius (206 BC~220 AD), and immortalized in his proverb,

Discover something new in the old (温故知新 onko chishin).

It was also known by Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who lived around 500 BC, and who famously wrote,

You can not step into the same river twice.

People who don’t have a personal power ritual often ask, how can you keep doing the same thing, over and over again? But is a game of golf ever the same? Doesn’t the artist see ordinary things with a fresh eye?

Similarly, training in martial arts or calligraphy is never boring, or you are there for the wrong reasons.After you have captured and secured something of value for yourself, you can do even better by sharing your knowledge with others.Blog about it on your platform. Share it on Social Media. It has never been easier.

The important thing to remember is that understanding does not equal recall. Remind yourself that “I understand means I can do!”

A takeaway is a breakaway from the habit of forgetting to apply what you have learned. What happens to this knowledge if you don’t capture or share it? Try writing on water and see how long the impression lasts.

 

ENOUGH FOR EVERYBODY (From Flexible Focus #75: Tofu Wars and the Art of Abundance)

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.

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.

 

NOTE: The articles in the Flexible Focus series are updated with graphics, links, and attachments on the FLEXIBLE FOCUS Webbrain, a dynamic and navigable map of the entire series. It has a searchable visual index, and is updated each week as the series develops.

FINI: This article completes the Art of Flexible Focus Series. However, this is not the end! I am planning in November 2011 to release an adapted and abridged version of this series in book form, both Kindle and print editions. If you would like information on how to obtain this book, please contact me by e-mail, with the words ZOOM LENS FOR YOUR LIFE in the subject line.

We thank you for your support and dedicated readership!

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 #73: The Power of Ritual!

by William Reed on October 13, 2011

Ritual Enhances Engagment

There is an energy crisis that rarely makes the front page, yet affects you each and every day. That is the internal energy crisis that comes from lack of full engagement in what you do.

Energy is a combination of spirit and vigor, which determines how much you enjoy your work, contributes to your staying power, and improves your performance. The crisis occurs when you do not have enough energy to meet and surpass expectations.

If your energy is not up to the task, then you are likely to perform poorly or put it off until later, neither way a productive strategy. Continuing to work like this will lead to burnout, or put you in the cue for the exit door.

If you feel out of synch like this, it is easy to blame the boss, complain about your colleagues, or decide that you deserve better. And perhaps you do. The problem is that entitlement has never been a ticket to empowerment.

The superior strategy is to navigate with full engagement, because its energy empowers you to enjoy and accomplish more, and actually increases your options on the path.

One of the most useful ways to generate energy is the power of ritual, developing a personal power routine. Institutionalized ritual is nothing new. It has been practiced for centuries as a means of cultivating energy in groups. It has also proved effective in enhancing performance in sports, and many top athletes stick to their rituals religiously.

In the martial arts and calligraphy, the power of ritual is self-evident. Training itself is a ritual, and the cumulative power of practice leads to improvement at all levels.

Part of the power of ritual is in repetition, where intentional effort gradually turns into automatic ability. The power of ritual is the power of habit. We are ruled by our habits, good and bad, as Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) said:

“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt, until they are too strong to be broken.”

There is a Japanese proverb which advises to sit 3 years on a stone (Ishi no ue ni mo san nen). The implication is that it takes 3 years of effort, engagement, or sometimes endurance for something to take effect. Although this seems counter-intuitive in a world brimming with promises of instant results, patience and perseverance were once considered to be the secret to success.

In fact, if you engage in a regular ritual, you can break bad habits and form good ones in a matter of weeks or months, not years. But you need to start, and you need to stay with it. A good place to start is with a morning power ritual, which you design yourself and make a personal priority to practice.

Have fun designing a ritual that works for you. Your rituals must have flexibility, or they will not last. My personal rituals are phrased in such a way that they are easy to practice and allow for variety. For example, to spend some time on my feet every day can be achieved by walking, running, Aikido, or dance. I commit to daily work on my Mandala Diary, Idea Marathon, and create at least one sketch-poem a day.

Food rituals are important too. You cannot deny the effect of food on your physical energy. Choose fresh ingredients, chew your food well, don’t overeat. Take responsibility in what you eat, so you don’t have to suffer for it later in life.

The coolest thing that I have discovered about ritual is that the more you engage with it, the more it transforms from a routine into a journey of discovery. The 30 to 90 minutes that you invest at the start of your day will set the tone for the entire day, help you stay focused and strong, and build momentum that makes you more productive.

Develop Your Talent

If you have an interest in improving your skills in any area, particularly performance, you owe it to yourself to read The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle.

Written by an award-winning sports journalist who turned his own talents toward investigating the process of talent itself, what it is, how it develops, what is universal. The subtitle offers the promise: unlocking the secret of skill in math, art, sport, and just about anything else.

He breaks the code into 3 essential parts: Deep Practice, Ignition (Passion), and Master Coaching, and ties it together with a biological key that could revolutionize the entire field of learning and teaching. In a word: Myelin, the insulating sheath of protein that forms protective layers around the axons of neurons.

The author’s metaphor for a well-formed myelin sheath is extra bandwidth, formed through repetition and particularly deep practice, which increases the speed, accuracy, and frequency of nerve impulses which result in the performance of a particular skill.

He traveled around the world to visit the “talent hotbeds,” places which produced an extraordinary number of world class performers in music or sports, and came back with some surprising findings. Regardless of how different the language, the culture, or the field of play, there were surprising consistencies which the author describes as the Talent Code. Slow, deliberate mindful practice over thousands of hours made all the difference.

This is actually the power of navigating your way steadily over a period of years to achieve outstanding results. Whether your goal is to boost your energy, achieve something you want, or develop your talent, you can only benefit by employing the power of ritual!

Note by Will Reed

A few weeks ago, Roger sent me an email telling me he was adapting my One-Year Planning MandalaChart, described in Flexible Focus #64: The One-Year Plan, into a writing and marketing tool for authors. I immediately asked Roger to share his ideas as an ActiveGarage guest post, and he agreed. His post appears below. I think you’ll agree it’s a great example of “tinkering” with an idea and putting it to work in new ways.

Why author’s need an Author MandalaChart


I’ve been following, and learning from, William Reed for most of the last decade. I tend to listen when he speaks. He’s introduced me to numerous creativity ideas and resources, including mind mapping.

I’ve been reading, and saving, his Flexible Focus series since it began. But, I knew that Will had really outdone himself when I saw his One-Year Plan MandalaChart.

The One-Year Plan MandalaChart resonated with me because it addressed several of the most important challenges authors face when planning, writing, promoting, and profiting from a brand-building book: book, including:

  • There’s more to book publishing success than simply “writing.” It’s not enough to provide a clearly and concisely written advice; the advice has to be relevant, and the book has to be visible to its intended readers.
  • Publishing success involves simultaneously addressing multiple tasks. Publishing is not a linear process. Success requires addressing multiple issues at the same time. For example, how authors intend to profit from their book should influence their choice of publishing options.
  • Success requires goals, priorities, and deadlines. In a time-strapped world, it’s more important than ever that goals and tasks be accompanied with deadlines. Without deadlines, days, weeks, months, and years can go by without progress, resulting in a terrible waste of opportunities..

Modeled on, and inspired by, Will’s One-Year Plan MandalaChart, my Author’s MandalaChart provides a visual way to create goals, prioritize tasks, and measure your progress as you move forward.

Author’s MandalaChart matrix

The starting point was to adapt the 8 topics Will addressed in his original One-Year Plan MandalaChart to the specific needs of authors.

Will’s original matrix was addressed the following spheres, or activities, of an individual’s life:

  1. Personal
  2. Financial
  3. Study
  4. Business
  5. Home
  6. Society
  7. Health
  8. Leisure

When adapting the One-Year Plan to my Author’s MandalaChart, I included the following activity areas that authors must address:


  1. Goals. Goals involves answering questions like, Why are you writing a book? and How do you intend to profit from your book? As publishing has changed during the past few years, it’s become more and more important for authors to view their books as new business ventures. Books have to generate income beyond that which comes from book sales. 
  2. Readers. Reader topics include answering questions like Who are your ideal readers?, Why should they read your book?, What do they need to know?, and How will they benefit from your book? Nonfiction publishing success isn’t about how much you know; success is determined by offering the information that your ideal readers need to know.
  3. Competition. Books are not self-contained islands; new books must offer something better than what’s already available. Success requires identifying existing books and analyzing their pros and cons, so you can answer the question, What’s the “missing book” my ideal readers are waiting for?
  4. Message. From analyzing your goals, readers, and competition, you should be able to position your book and organize your ideas into chapters and subtopics within chapters. Your book proposal and press releases must be able to quickly answer questions like, What’s your book’s big idea? and What will readers take away from your book?  
  5. Format. Information can be communicated in lots of different ways, for example, step-by-step procedurals, case studies, personal experiences, question and answer, etc. You can also publish a big book or a small book. Format questions include, How much of a book do you need to write? and How can you simplify your book so you can get it into your reader’s hands as soon as possible?
  6. Awareness. Books are not magnetic, they don’t attract readers like a magnet attracts steel filings. You have to help your reader find you, answering questions like, How can I get my book reviewed? and How can I share my ideas while writing my book?
  7. Demand. Awareness has to be converted into demand, demand must stimulate purchases. Questions to address include, How can I stimulate pre-orders for my book? How can I sell as many books as possible when it’s available? and Where can I sell my book outside ofnormal bookstore channels?
  8. Profit. Finally, authors must leverage books into back-end information products or coaching, consulting, or paid speaking and presenting events. Questions include, How can I help readers implement my ideas? and What kind of marketing materials are speaker bureaus and event planners looking for?

Setting and attracting goals

The most important part of Will’s original One-Year Plan MandalaChart was the way it encouraged users to address each topic in matrix from four perspectives:

  • Current status. Where are we now? What are the strengths and weaknesses of our current position? What are the forces we have to deal with?
  • By December. What are our goals for the remainder of the calendar year? What do we want to accomplish by the end of the year?
  • Image for the end of a year. How can we visually communicate our accomplishments after 12 months?
  • Steps to reach this. What do we have to do to achieve our December and our One-Year goals?

In my version, I made a few simple changes, as follows:

  • Situation. (the same)
  • 90-days. This addresses the fact that “By December” implied an August starting date.
  • 1-year. Rather than a visual image, I felt a description of accomplishments during the past 12 months would be most helpful.
  • Steps to success. (Simple wording change.)

Author’s MandalaChart benefits

Writing and self-publishing involve a curious blend of creativity and self-discipline. Success requires a flexible perspective that combines long-term vision and consistent action in 8 different activity areas.

Although all projects are a work in progress, I feel the Author’s MandalaChart achieves its primary goal of helping authors avoid the common myopia of focusing entirely on writing and makes it easy to maintain a “big picture” view that encourages action in all 8 areas. The Author’s MandalaChart makes it easy to describe short term and long-goals in each area.

In addition, it creates an engaging visual to display on your wall as well as share with co-authors, agents, editors, and—when appropriate—your blog and social market community.

Conclusion

In addition to building on Will Reed’s already strong framework and adapting it for a specific vertical market, the Author’s MandalaChart shows the importance of constantly being on the lookout for ideas and tools that you can put to use in new ways.

The power of idea-sharing venues like the ActiveGarage is that it creates a community of achievers, constantly looking for ways to do a better job to address the challenges we all face, including the need to get more done in less time.

Editor’s NoteRoger C. Parker 37-part ActiveGarage Author’s Journey series offers practical advice for writing a book. He invites you to visit Published & Profitable and download a free proof of his do-it-yourself guide to developmental editing, 99 Questions to Ask Before You Write or Self-Publlish a Brand-building Book