Tag Archives: holistic career

Let Your Samurai Flowers Bloom!

Seed your dreams and ideas with your samurai mind notebook.

Seed your dreams and ideas with your samurai mind notebook.

Yesterday, I had a curious experience.  I was doing a six-month review of a samurai notebook.  In the notebook, I was beginning to imagine how I want to reconstruct my work experience and life.   The shocking thing is that six months later a lot of these things are starting to become true.   Just this week I learned that I am one of 15 lucky New York City teachers who will get a scholarship to take courses at the Library Sciences program at Syracuse University to become School Media Specialists.   I am going to become a 21st century  samurai librarian!

This move is a mash-up of both my work with What Color is Your Parachute and my samurai notebook.  With the help of Parachute I did an inner search for my interests, abilities, and desired working conditions.   As I did my process and finally created my What Color is Your Parachute (WCIYP) “flower,”  I made sure that I placed a lot of my searching and results in my samurai notebook.  Because of this, I kept running into my requirements for different work or training.  Because I kept reviewing my notes on the WCIYP process through the samurai notebook process, I kept my lens and inspiration clear.

Here is an excellent example of a career flower from a blog called Quantified Self.  Doing the flower is great even if you are not switching careers because it helps you clarify where and how you want to be.  Take time to smell the flowers.

Here is an excellent example of a career flower from a blog called Quantified Self. Doing the flower is great even if you are not switching careers because it helps you clarify where and how you want to be. Take time to smell the flowers.

The WCIYP process asks career seekers to begin by creating several petals on their “flower”:  favorite knowledges, kinds of people to work with, favorite transferable skills, preferred working conditions, salary and level of responsibility, preferred places to live, as well as a statement of purpose or mission in life.  Making the flower involves both inner work and research.   Once you’ve finished making your flower, you have created a powerful tool that empowers you to make a more enlightened job search.

The author Richard N. Bolles loves to bend language rules.  One of the first “petals” he asks you to create are your favorite “knowledges.”    Knowing what moves and excites you will help you find the career that is an exciting fit.   I am looking to shift rather than change my career and these were my favorite knowledges or fields of experience:

  1. Learning to learn skills.   Books and programs about how to learn and develop talent.

  2. design of learning experiences/curriculum design

  3. brainstorming and generating ideas

  4. research

  5. self-help growth strategies

I put my “flower” on googledocs but I soon realized that just leaving it there would be just like archiving it.  During my morning reviews, I spent a little time putting the “petals” into my plain old notebook.   This ensured that I would keep rubbing against all of these ideas during my day to day life and as I considered different options.

My samurai notebooks can be rough, but reviewing it I am like a gardener turning over the soil and planting.  On some days, I am “weeding” and on other days I’m planting.   Every now and then a beautiful flower blooms in the process.  Let a 100 samurai flowers bloom.  Plant you now and dig you later! 🙂






Samurai Networking: Skip the Baloney

I am rethinking networking.   Maybe when it comes from true connection, it's about building bridges.

I am rethinking networking. When networking comes from true connection, it’s about building bridges.

This is one of those cases where I’m going to give you advice about something I’m not actually too good at yet–networking.     Part of the reason I may be developing in this area is because previously associated networking with oil and slickery–forced associations with others for personal gain. Then this summer, I met Tony Draper over the phone through an Introduction to Coaching class.   He explained that the best way to network is to make genuine connections with people and groups.  He made a couple of suggestions:

  • find groups that you are naturally attracted to rather than forcing yourself into a “networking” group–follow your interests
  • give most groups at least two tries–you may find your groove with the group on the second try
  • think in terms of “givers gain”—think in terms of how you can genuinely be of service to the group or members of that group–whether it is an important piece of information, a lead, or just your full attention
  • be genuinely curious about the members of the group

As I’ve tried to think about networking, part of what I’ve been doing is also thinking of the people that are genuine at their networking.    My former writing teacher and author of Devil in the Hole, Charles Salzberg, is also a genuine networker.    Whenever I have lunch with Charles he is  inquisitive about my life and the lives of many people that he comes in contact with.   He recommends the great work of his former students, friends and in turn has a good network of people who recommend his work.   Charles works at promoting his writing, of course, but I think it goes a lot easier because of authenticity and connection that he has with people.

No. Phoney. Bologna. Who knows?  Maybe 2014 will be the year that Juan got his Samurai Network on?  In the meantime, I am grateful for the connections I have now.   In the midst of this cold snap I thank you for being part of that and I wish you the deepest and most warm connections for 2014.

Let’s Go Dutch: Career Advice from A Samurai

Suzuki Shosan (1579-1655) who had fought as a samurai in the battles of Sekihagara and Osaka argued that in the life of commoners, ordinary, daily work, could lead to enlightenment.   What mattered was internal attitude; when this was properly adjusted and focused all trades could become the roads to spiritual emancipation.”  p. 222 Marius B. Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan

Source: Wikipedia Genpaku trained himself to understand Dutch to further Japanese understanding of medicine and science.

Source: Wikipedia
Genpaku trained himself to understand Dutch to further Japanese understanding of medicine and science.

Well, despite my disclaimer samurai have crept into my blog.   First of all, let me explain how I found this quote.  I am a busy high school teacher and a father of two children and time is at a premium.  However, what I have learned All Japanese All the Time and Japanese writers on learning, is that squeezing in little moments of learning things that bring you joy is much more preferable to throwing up your hands and feeling that all is futile.   Want to play guitar?  Hold it in your hands five minutes a day and do something. Continue reading

Welcome to Samurai Mind: Learning Tools for Health, Wealth and the Earth.

My name is Juan Rivera and this is my blog. Samurai mind online is about learning  and self-help strategies with an Eastern edge.  Disclaimer #1:  I don’t know anything about samurai.   I don’t want to be a samurai.  I don’t buy into the samurai mythology.   I don’t want to be Tom Cruise.   (Though I do like the thought of jumping up and down on Oprah’s couches and babbling excitedly).

What fascinates me about the whole samurai thing is how the Japanese were able to choose to rise to the challenge of modernization.  They were confronted by the West and were able to rise to the challenge and compete with the big boys.    As the events leading up to World War II show, there was a dark side to this new knowledge.  Learning needs to have an ethical side to it as well.

Let Samurai Mind Online Help You Find the Way

This blog came about from my desire to learn Japanese and from what I learned about learning as I learned more and more.   (Did you learn something  from my overuse of learning?)   As I learned more kanji, I realized that I learned more from reading materials that were fun for me.   I tried reading manga or Japanese comics, but that was somebody else’s fun.

I realized that I was a self-help junkie and started to realize that’s what I needed to read.  I became particularly interested in Japanese “brain-boom” books, books that explore study methods and how to better optimize learning and growth.

Disclaimer #2:  I am still learning Japanese and am committed to immersing myself in the language.   My translations may be flawed, but its part of my immersion journey.  I could also back up my ideas with research done in English, but that also interferes with my immersion goal.  I will include reviews of “Western” books that I have found helpful.  Take everything I say about Japanese sources with a grain of soy sauce.  Take everything else with a grain of salt and experiment on yourself.

Samurai Mind explores some of these books and their underlying philosophies as well as my meandering along the way.   My purpose is to share these books and other tools I’ve come across the way so that we can all lead happier, healthier, and wealthier lives.   I firmly believe that if we fully can tap our minds, we can better serve our selves, others, and the earth in a spirit of intelligent play.