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The Life of Oggy

2020 in Review

I usually try to make some kind of end of the year post, but I’ve been thinking about what I want to try to do this year. I have to admit that it’s been a crazy year. There have been struggles of all sorts, but also successes on most fronts. The global pandemic gave me some extra time where I could sit and think on a few things. It also opened up some doors for me. So instead of cryptically hinting at everything, let’s get into the bullet point style review.

  • I was fully promoted to head teacher in April (it actually began in January with a 3-month trial). This was the first time that anyone has ever trusted me to manage a team. I had to get really introspective to consider what my leadership style was. It was a very bumpy first few months, and then the next thing…
  • The pandemic began in Japan. Actually, many people at the time thought that Japan was the first place with a major outbreak (even before Wuhan was a major culprit). The massive luxury cruise ship that was forced to dock for weeks to quarantine everyone with a disease that nobody could explain. This brought some new challenges to my leadership when the entire country went on lockdown in April for two months. I had to negotiate with three different parties to make sure that there was enough work to justify keeping everyone on payroll while simultaneously making sure that the work was meaningful. Once we started working from home, I had to make sure that everyone understood how to do the work. It was a very stressful time, but looking back, it really helped shape my approach to leadership, and it gave me new opportunities.
  • This new style of working from home was great for me, because I had already had a lot of experience working remotely, but now I got to learn a new skill: Content Creation. Yep, you read that right. For a while, I was a YouTuber (well, kindof…). I was making 2-3 new videos every week that focused on different kinds of activities within our program. We started off thinking that we could do one a day, but in order to get the high quality that my school prides itself on, we quickly realized that we were going to need to spend more time per video. Overall, we made some very good videos that really helped improve the quality of our program.
  • Right about the same time as the lockdown, my company explained that they are looking into creating a new program, and it was an IT related program. They knew about my skills and asked if I could help get it started. I didn’t realize at that time what it was going to turn into. This is a robotics program, and my company is going to be the franchiser. So I will no longer be a teacher… officially. My role is going to be (has been) to develop curriculum for the program, develop a training program for teachers in the program, and to do the training and evaluate the teachers. We are looking at opening in April with 20+ franchises. Yep… I’m in way over my head. Having said that, I am going into this confident that I can get the job done.
  • At the same time that I was entrusted with two leadership roles at my company, I was also elected as the president of my Toastmasters club. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. This was a very different experience than what was going on at work. Instead of being the only manager leading the entire group, I got a very capable group of officers whose roles were clearly defined. My biggest struggle here was to learn how to delegate (I’ve always approached difficult challenges independently). While I won’t have any real feedback about my club’s actual performance until after next July, it does seem to be going well. We are hitting most of the milestones that I set. We are growing. Everyone seems reasonably happy, and whether by my influence or not, everyone is improving. So, I’m happy with my current level of performance. It’s just important to remember not to ease up.
  • Considering the new positions, I started a new study on leadership. I delved into so many books, podcasts, etc. that try to tackle the subject, and reread some that I had already read (my current favorites being Dale Carnegie and Jocko Willink). This also led me to evaluate my own strengths and weaknesses as a person (not just a leader). This was an intense procedure. It kinda reminded me of my spiritual crisis when I was in high school. It was a good time for some introspection, joy, depression, and every kind of emotion that you could possibly feel, and led to my next point;
  • A reassessment on relationships. What is the difference between a good and bad, or rather, constructive and destructive relationship. I think I came to some conclusions on relationships that have begun to guide the way I look at people in general. Basically, I’ve decided that a relationship, from any perspective, should be a mutually beneficial venture. This has shaped my outlook in a number of areas;
    • Family – Blood is thicker than water. It’s also harder to clean up. Family deserves a chance, but they don’t get a pass just because they’re family. If a familial relationship is proving to be destructive, then it’s probably best to get out. This idea has helped me to move on from my failed marriage. I made a lot of mistakes, but ultimately, the relationship was destructive for us both, and would have (if it hadn’t already) caused lasting damage on my son as well. This conclusion helps me sleep well at night.
    • Friends – My friends are the brothers and sisters I never had, and I will always see them as such. Whether we see each other everyday or once every 5-10 years, the roots we set in the past will always connect us. As long as we are both feeling the benefits from the friendship, I’ll always be there for them. If the relationship becomes a drag, feel free to let me know. We can address the problem and take any necessary steps from there.
    • Colleagues – It’s hard to separate work and private life. I have done everything I can to do that since I started leading my team. Becoming a leader has been both a rewarding and lonely experience. Of course, both leaders and subordinates are people, with their own natural thoughts and feelings and need to connect. Having said that, having to be part of decisions which could potentially negatively affect the people you care about takes its toll…
  • Beyond the study on leadership and relationships, the coronavirus lockdown taught me something important about myself. I need an outlet. When I was back home in the states, it used to be driving. When I was in my car, I could belt out in song, talk to myself (I swear I’m not that crazy), or just quietly think to myself as the world passed me by. Being in the position that I’m in now, I was finally able to buy a car. Renewing my license was a pain. I was lucky that I am such a packrat with my data. But now, on the weekends, you can find me randomly driving around Chiba (the prefecture to the east of Tokyo, where I live… Because driving in Tokyo sucks).
  • Finally, since my separation, I’m in a position to start looking at my financial well-being. This new focus is what allowed me to buy a car (I paid cash). I’ve started investing a sizeable portion of my income each month to my retirement, and more to investments. On top of that, I’ve built up a small emergency fund that will help in case something really bad happens (like another lockdown). I’ve never been this secure in my life, and honestly, I’m not sure what to make of it.

So there you have it. My 2020 in review. Despite the continued spread of the many different variants of the coronavirus, I’m happy to finally be moving up in the world in some respects.

I hope you could also find the beautiful silver lining in what was ultimately a terribly dark year. It’s the silver lining that makes life worth living!

See you next year!

PS – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Defining Success

Hello, I know it's been a while since I posted, and even longer with anything substantial about my life. This is not going to be one of those personal posts. It's for a project I started working on recently. I'll post a personal news update when I get a little more time.

So, without further ado:

In a world where you can get metrics for nearly everything you do, how do you define and measure success?

This is a question that has gotten under my skin for the last few weeks. I think it all started when I first listened to Jocko Podcast #174. I highly recommend it if you are interested in self-development at all.

Everything we do professionally is measured, and our success within a company is usually driven by the metrics that are measured for performance reviews. This includes sales numbers, KPIs, etc. Of course, metrics can be gamed if they are not well thought out, but this is an efficient system for the most part, and works well in companies that put real thought into their implementation.

So that got me thinking, why hasn’t anyone done this for life? There’s literally an app to measure just about everything you want. Smart watches constantly measure heart rates and sleep patterns. There are apps that track and measure your fitness patterns. There are apps for that measure and analyze your finances. And there are plenty of data available online to compare your professional achievements.

I’ve looked around, and mostly I find common practices in the areas of self and life development, but there isn’t much talking about actual metrics. So, that’s what I’m doing now. I’m trying to decide what metrics I’m going to use to help me set (quite possibly the most difficult part) and achieve goals for myself.

I found a website that is a good start. It provides a list of different areas to focus on, and it includes a few metrics for each area. But as everyone defines personal success differently, I feel like the specific metrics would be different for everyone.

So, having said all that, what metrics would you consider if you were, as the boss of your own life, going to realistically give yourself an annual review? Why would you choose those metrics?

Tis the Season – 2019

Good [insert appropriate time of the day] ladies and gentlemen.

It’s been a while since I posted, and thought that now was a good time to update.

I have some good news. I have finally made it through my custody mediation. It seems that after 2 years, we still cannot come to an agreement for custody (surprise surprise… yes, that was sarcasm). Now we get to move into litigation…

On another note, in my spare time, I’ve decided to pick up crafts. Leatherwork to be exact. I haven’t done anything major yet, but here are a couple pictures of kinds of projects I’ve completed so far.

It’s not great, but I’m just getting started, and I’m having fun with it. The nice thing is that, despite the wallet being a bit too small, it’s holding up well. My bracelet is too (I’ve given 3 away so far, so I don’t know how well they’re holding up).

The hardest part so far is working with buttons. They are a pain. Of course it will just take time, but I’m hoping to eventually be able to make something that people will want to buy.

It’s amazing how fast 2019 has passed by. I can’t believe that it’s already December. I’ll have to start putting together a list of things that happened this year. It’s been so busy, but also, in a way, it’s calmed down a lot (especially since I’m not doing recruiting anymore).

Anyway, until next time.
Stay awesome!

New Job, New Life?

I have a new job now. Well, newish. I started in April. But since I haven’t posted in over a year, it’s easy to understand that you wouldn’t know.

Since my last post, I’ve done a few things:

As I mentioned, I changed jobs. I’m back to teaching. This isn’t for any normal school. It’s an international school backed by a big venture company. This will give me some opportunities if I stick with it for a while. Ideally, I’m hoping to move into an IT position. As of now though, I’m enjoying my new job. I’m teaching an after-school program where I see the same kids every weekday. Their at an advanced level of English, so they can have full conversations with you (although it’s still pretty broken).

I competed in a speech contest. I’ve now been in Toastmasters for a year and a half. In February-April, we had a series of contests. I was able to win the club and area contests. I got 3rd place in the division contest. The guy who won had been doing Toastmasters for 20 years, and he knew exactly how to win. I’m preparing for the contest next year now. I may already have a speech ready for it. I just need to practice, practice, practice!

Speaking of Toastmasters, I’m not the 2nd in command of my club (Vice President of Education). It’s pretty much the most intensive job in the club. I’m doing a lot of organizing since we’re a new club, and trying to simplify the process so that whoever takes over next won’t have many problems.

I’m starting to test my hand at leatherworking. I haven’t made anything yet, but I’m starting to get to know how to use the tools. I bought a leather working tool set similar to this from Amazon Japan, so it’s not a huge investment yet. I also found an awesome leather shop in Japan where I can get some practice hides relatively cheap (around $30), but I didn’t realize how much the nice stuff costs (between $200-300). The company name is Sanyo Leather. Here is a picture of the sample book they sent for $10 as well as a few scraps that they sent for free for testing. I think I’ll try to make a wallet with it.

Anyway, that’s all for now.

8 Years in Japan

It’s hard to believe that I came to Japan 8 years ago this month. Before that I had never lived anywhere except Tulsa, Oklahoma, and in the last 8 years, I’ve only been back home a handful of times.

I miss home, and all my friends and family. All the food, and the thunderstorms in the spring. I miss playing guitar while watching the crazy thunderstorms. I miss puffy taco Wednesdays. Hell, I can’t list all the things that I miss here. It’s just the tip of the iceberg.

After reminiscing a bit, I started to realize how much I’ve done since I’ve been in Japan. I’ve become a teacher, and then been in one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded shortly after. I learned how to live completely on my own. I traveled to Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia. I got married, had a child, and then got divorced (well, started the process anyway). I’ve had to face one of the biggest challenges of my life so far in the courts in Japan. I’ve become a headhunter, and I’ve written a book. I’ve joined groups to learn how to speak in public (I promise I’ll be better if anyone ever needs me to do a best man speech again), and I’ve started doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I’ve been in both the best and worse physical shape since high school. I’ve read more books in a couple years than I have in my whole life (nearly 50 this year alone if you include audio books).

In all of that, the lesson that most stands out to me is persistence. It was one of the things that I never quite had before I came to Japan, and if it’s the only lesson that I learn while I’m here, then my time here will be well worth it. Not to be too cliche, but it’s true that anything worth doing is difficult, and it takes a lot of time. If you give up anytime things get difficult, then you’ll never accomplish anything of value.

That’s what I did before I came to Japan. I did that with all my music instruments, my sports, and even my business. I don’t feel like I ever really engaged myself 100%, and that’s why I never became great at any of them. I was a dilettante (still am really). Persistence pays off in anything you do, but if you really want to find success (at least what I think of as success), you have to learn to stick with the thing you want to be successful at.

Don’t get me wrong. Hobbies are great. It’s good to find things where you can spend some of your time and get some R&R while simultaneously improving some aspect of yourself. You can’t dedicate yourself 100% to every single thing you do. But you can find the one or two things that are the most important things in your life. The things that make you want to wake up in the mornings. And it’s for those things that I am learning persistence.

I didn’t really intend this to become a motivational piece, but rather a reminiscence of the last 8 years, so I’ll stop before I get too high on my persistence soapbox.

I just want everyone to know things are going well and I miss you all!

And congrats Kenna and Amanda on your little bundle of joy! I’m looking forward to meeting him!

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