FUN-travel: Jubilant Japan in Bloom! – Kyoto – Whisky & Sake

April 19, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

  • Suntory Whiskey Tour… in 1923, Shinjiro Torii inspired by traditional Scottish whisky…

…envisioned one filled with the essence of Japanese nature, hand-crafted by artisans…

…subtle & refined, yet complex & suited for the delicate palate of the Japanese…

…to enhance their dining experience.

  • Fushimi Sake District…charming & picturesque willow-lined canals…

…home to nearly 40 breweries…dating to 1637…

…with traditional Japanese lunch in original Sake Storage House.

Today’s Special Secret Treat! – Sekihoji Temple… Zen temple where famous artist Ito Jakuchu spent over 10 years creating the 500 statues of disciples of Buddha.

  • Fushimi Inari Shrine…1300-years-old & famous for its magical…

…seemingly unending path of over 5000 vibrant vermilion torii gates…

…lining the paths up and down a mountain.

FUN-fact – Fushimi Shrine was dedicated to the god of rice and sake is known for bringing fortune.

More FF – Sekihoji Temple was not on our itinerary. It’s not even listed in guide books because it’s so remote.

More Treats! Yellow Cherry Blossoms!

Word-Of-the-Week #715: Calm

April 19, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Calmnot showing or feeling nervousness, anger, or other strong emotions.

How easy is it for you to be calm in a disagreement? How receptive are you to hearing another person’s perspective? Can you disagree without being disagreeable?

This is the second half of Thanks for the conflict! Recognizing—and appreciating—when a co-worker fights fair” by Deborah Grayson Riegel. To recap, “Workplace conflict is inevitable.You are going to come up against people who challenge your ideas and who challenge you. 

That’s a good thing. Disagreements can lead to diversity of thinking, improvements in products and services and greater productivity. Disagreements also can lead to better working relationships, but only if everyone involved fights fair. 

Here are the other two healthy conflict behaviors to look for so that you can say “thank you” when you see them. 

  1. Using a respectful tone

In the face of an interpersonal conflict, our brains register a threat in approximately 1/5 of a second. We immediately go into fight, flight or freeze mode, and it’s easy to become snippy, short-tempered, sarcastic, surly or silent. It’s reacting rather than considering how to respond. 

If your colleague is willing and able to stop his automatic reaction, and demonstrate emotionally intelligent self-management by speaking to you calmly and with care, thank him. It likely took some work to be able to do that, and some respect for you to be willing to do it. 

Try saying this: “I just want to thank you for the calm tone of voice you’re using right now, even though I know you’re upset. It makes it easy for me to really hear your perspective, and to have a productive conversation.” 

As radio host Bernard Meltzer once said, “If you have learned how to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secret of getting along — whether it be business, family relations or life itself.” 

  1. Being curious

Healthy communication navigates and balances between two practices: advocacy (promoting our own ideas, perspectives and points of view) and inquiry (being curious about the other’s ideas, perspectives and points of view.) 

In a conflict, we tend to over-rely on advocacy — telling the other person what we think and know, why we’re right, and why the other person clearly is wrong. Inquiry tends to go out the door. We’re often more committed to getting our way than to getting new information that could sway us (or, heaven forbid, reveal that we were wrong).

When you hear your colleague asking you questions like, “What do you think I’m not understanding here?” or “What would you like to see happen?” or even prompting you with “Tell me more,” thank him for being curious. 

Try saying this: “Thank you for asking me. I’d like to tell you how I see it, and then I’d like to learn more about how you see it.” 

And if he also really listens to your answers, thank him again. 

A conflict doesn’t have to hurt people’s feelings or slow down productivity. In fact, a conflict where both people care about the relationship as much as the outcome can be a catalyst to interpersonal and organizational progress. 

This week’s focus is on being calm during conflict. Do you know how to fight fair? Can you use a respectful tone without getting defensive? Can you see how being curious could help create healthier relationships?

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FUN-travel: Jubilant Japan in Bloom! – Kyoto – Totally Templed

April 17, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

  • Totally Templed & Uniquely UNESCO…

…as Kyoto has a grand total of 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites!

  • 1st Stop – Kinkaku-ji…the Golden Pavilion…

…whose top two floors are completely covered in glittering gold leaf…

…started life in 1397 as a retirement villa for the Shogun…

…and based on his wishes became a Zen temple after his death in 1408.

  • 2nd Stop –Tenryu-ji Temple… one of the city’s five great Zen temples.

The tranquil temple has one of the most attractive Japanese stroll gardens in Kyoto…

…particularly stunning in spring with cherry blossoms & fall with autumn foliage.

  • 3rd Stop – Outside the temple…is the magical Arashiyama Bamboo Grove & Togetsuyoko Bridge.

  • 4th Stop – Royan-ji Temple… known as the “Temple of the Dragon at Peace”…

…famous for its iconic Zen rock garden…

…that features 15 mystical rocks floating adrift in a sea of white sand…

…& the perfect spot to contemplate the world…

…& the meaning of life.

  • 5th Stop – Kiyomizu-dera Temple…one of the most celebrated temples in Japan…

…perched high atop a hill…

…offering spectacular views of Kyoto…

…with its huge wooden veranda…

…at 38 feet high & 120 ft long protruding over a steep cliff…

…built in 1633 without using a single nail…

…& the reason we made this trip!

FUN-fact – Kiyomizu-dera  was one of the 21 places vying for the New 7 Wonders of the World. We have now officially made it to 20 of them!

Not so FF – Today was the coldest day so far! Glad I brought my silk long john’s!

  • Today’s Treat – “We be Stylin”… in our private car…with driver!

Our Guide Katsue, Me & Mr. Moto

FUN-travel: Jubilant Japan in Bloom! – Himeji

April 12, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

  • Himeji Castle…AKA White Heron Castle…

…widely considered Japan’s most spectacular castle…

…due to its elegant white appearance & for its imposing size…

…& beauty was completed in 1609.

  • Its well preserved complex castle grounds…

…made up of over 80 buildings…

…spread across multiple baileys…

…& connected by a series of gates & winding paths…

…creating a labyrinth-like approach intended to slow down & expose attacking forces.

  • At the heart of the complex stands the main keep…

…a 6 story wooden structure with a series of steep, narrow staircases…

…with each level getting progressively smaller as you ascend.

  • The roof ornaments – incorporating a lion, dragon & fish – are believed to protect from fire.

FUN- fact – The Himeji Castle is both a national treasure and a world heritage site. And unlike many other Japanese castles, it was never destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and survives to this day as one of the country’s twelve original castles.

  • Engyogi Temple…mountain top temple complex…

…requires a cable car to reach is over 1000 year old…

…& spread over a spacious densely forested area.

The Last Samurai Buildings

  • Takes 15 minute walk uphill to reach the first gate…

…& another 15 minutes to reach the Maniden…

…a beautiful wooden temple hall constructed on pillars on a steep slope.

  • Another five minute walk along forest trails brings you to the three massive wooden temple halls.

  • Belief was anyone who climbed this mountain would be purified both in body and spirit….so it became a pilgrimage site.

FUN- fact – Engyogi Temple was the location for movie the Last Samurai.

Not so FF – Full day of trains… buses… walking…thick cloud cover…coldest day of the trip so far…to the point of bone chilling!

Word-Of-the-Week #714: Conflict

April 12, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Conflicta clash of opposing feelings or needs.

Does conflict make you feel uncomfortable? How does it make you feel if someone doesn’t share your same opinion? How willing are you to speak up if you disagree with someone?

Thanks for the conflict! Recognizing—and appreciating—when a co-worker fights fair” is this week’s topic from the Chicago Tribune article by Deborah Grayson Riegel. She writes, “If your company employs more than one person, workplace conflict is inevitable. 

And even if you’re a sole proprietor, you’re going to have challenges with clients, vendors, industry colleagues and others. Unless you only surround yourself with people who think, speak and work exactly like you (and how boring would that be?), you are going to come up against people who challenge your ideas and who challenge you. 

That’s a good thing. Disagreements can lead to diversity of thinking, improvements in products and services and greater productivity. Disagreements also can lead to better working relationships, but only if everyone involved fights fair. 

Let’s assume you already do; you communicate directly and thoughtfully, you are considerate in your language and tone, you engage others in a dialogue rather than a monologue, and you are focused on achieving a good outcome and a healthy relationship. Good for you! But how do you get your colleague to do the same?

How can you work better with someone who may be working against you? By acknowledging and thanking him or her for demonstrating agreeable disagreement behaviors whenever they occur. 

Here are three healthy conflict behaviors to look for so that you can say “thank you” when you see them.  

  1. Telling you directly

In the words of Napoleon Bonaparte, “The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.” 

As uncomfortable as it feels to hear negative feedback or be confronted directly, it is significantly more uncomfortable (and less productive) to have a colleague who is secretly seething, holding a grudge, acting passive-aggressively toward you or telling everyone but you that she has a problem with you. 

When a colleague tells you directly that she is frustrated with you, seeing a situation differently from you or otherwise feeling disgruntled, consider it a gift. If you know, you can do something about it (or make an informed decision not to do anything about it). If you don’t know, you’re in the dark. 

Try saying this: “Thank you so much for telling me directly that you (didn’t like my decision/felt disrespected by me in the meeting/wished I had consulted with you). I appreciate you trusting me enough to share that feedback. Would you like to discuss it further?” 

The other two ideas follow next week. This week’s focus is on dealing with conflict. Do you communicate thoughtfully and directly if you’re in disagreement? Does it make you feel uncomfortable to hear negative feedback or be confronted directly? How would it feel to acknowledge and thank someone for demonstrating agreeable disagreement behavior?

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