Like the New Book? Leave a Review!

What’s Your Function? has started mailing from the publisher and I have heard from a number of you that you’ve gotten your copies and started reading. Thanks so much!

Now this is where your writing is more important than mine. Other potential readers need to know what you think. So if you’ve received your copy and liked what you’ve read so far, please go to Barnes & Noble  or Amazon.com and write a review. Very few people take the time to leave a review, and yet your feedback may be the most important factor in potential readers taking a chance on the book. Thanks for your support!

 

Tagged , ,

Japan: The Art of Doing Things Right

I just returned from a two week work trip to China and Japan. This was my third trip to China, and it was as amazing and full of growth and excitement as ever. China is where the action is at the moment, but this was my first trip to Japan and I found it equally fascinating. While China is bursting with chaotic, creative energy, Japan is a place of methodical refinement – where doing everyday things the right way is an artform.

A month ago, I spent two days in New York City, which was a helpful comparison point when I arrived in Tokyo. Greater New York City is a little larger in size, but Greater Tokyo’s 37 million people dwarfs New York’s population of 19 million, making it the world’s most populated megopolis. Despite this incredible density, Tokyo is the cleanest, most orderly city I have ever seen.  I saw only two homeless people, and seriously no trash, even though I don’t remember seeing any cleaning people at work outside the hotel. Very few horns blare, people obey crosswalk signs, and waiting lines are perfectly straight and quiet. That’s not to say it is boring; everywehere you look there is an eye-catching array of lights, signs, art, and shops of every imaginable kind. It is much less diverse than New York. In the three days I spent there, I saw only a handful of obvious Westerners, even in the downtown business and tourist districts.

I love to make new friends and practice a little of the local language when I travel. In China, this is easy, since once you get outside the main cities, the Chinese are incredibly curious about foreigners. They are always watching you with discreet interest. One of my favorite things to do was to turn my head quickly and catch them looking before they could look away. I smiled, then they smiled, and it was easy to converse. This didn’t work the same way in Japan. The Japanese, even on incredibly crowded subways – perhaps because of those crowded subways – have learned to wrap themselves in solititude and block out everything around them. As one university vice president described it to me, “We Japanese live in wooden houses with paper walls. We have learned how not to hear what happens on the other side of a single pane of paper.”

Although just looking and smiling failed miserably, I did find success by doing two things: asking for help and asking for knowledge. Asking for directions on the subway not only got me assistance, but a nice conversation and email follow up. Asking for information on some landmark or piece of Japanese culture yielded history lessons and lots of smiles. A few times, all my traveling companions and I had to do was stand in the subway station and look mystified, and before long someone would come by to explain the map, help us buy tickets, or personally escort us to our trains. I had the clear impression that in Japanese culture, helping someone was a weighty matter that should be done right, as if you were welcoming a guest.

Actually, that was one of my strongest impressions of Japanese culture overall – this shared sense that anything worth doing is worth doing right. Customer service, whether in hotels, restaurants, or train stations should be impeccable, even if that means hiring twice as many people as you need. Any time we entered an establishment we were properly greeted. When the ticket taker on the train moved from one car to another he bowed when he entered and again when he left. Everything made, sold, wrapped, cooked, driven, or said was done with efficiency and care. It was a striking difference from the U.S., where customer services is typically spotty, if not jarring.

As a symbol of this insight, the picture above is the sushi lunch that we were served by one of our university partners. Sushi would not be my first meal choice, but this simple boxed lunch was a work of art. Every piece was cut, formed, and wrapped perfectly; placed in a bowl with complementary colors and a matching placemat.

While Japan certainly has its own weaknesses and issues, this is a cultural value I could learn something from. Simple, beautiful excellence – doing the small things well – is a joy that could punctuate the busiest days if I let it.

Tagged ,

Launch Day!

Today is the official launch date for my new book, What’s Your Function? Working it Out with God! For those of you who preordered from one of the major online retailers and wondered about the shipping delay, the publisher had a printing issue which delayed the launch. Function ships today, so it will be on its way!

 

If you haven’t yet ordered your copy you can find here:

Christian Book.com

Amazon.com

Judson Press

I want to take a moment and thank a few people who have made this book possible. It has been a two-year process to transform my experiences in career coaching and guidance into a book. I hope it will help many people combine the skills God has given them and the things they are passionate about; to take them to the world where they are needed. I have had a lot of help along the way. I want to thank Andy Chan of Wake Forest University for the incredible foreword he wrote for the book. I want to thank my special team of advanced readers – Diana, Leroy, John, Noel, and Jim, and Carl Campbell from Wycliffe. Thanks to all my family, who have been my best supporters, and especially to my wonderful wife who continues to inspire me with her goodness.

And thanks to all of you who have shared my books and posts with those you know will benefit from them. It is a joy to give to others from what I’ve been given.

Tagged , ,

TEA Time and Temperament

On Tuesday I taught workshops for The Excelsior Academy’s TEA Time program. TEA is the largest homeschool network covering Maryland and southern Pennsylvania. I served as their commencement speaker three years ago and have presented for them annually on college and career advising topics. For this year’s workshop I built an interactive presentation called “From Temperament to Employment” that used Temperament Theory to help students discover which working environments might be the best for them. At the same time, the workshop was designed to help both students and their families understand how learning styles, motivation, and skills are influenced by temperament, and how understanding temperament differences can help you better understand your boss, your coworkers, and your family members.

As I have blogged before, Temperament Theory is one of my favorite career development tools because it is relatively simple and easy to use. By answering just two questions – How do I use language? (concretely or abstractly) and; “How do I use tools?” (cooperatively or in a utilitarian fashion) – we can divide people into four general temperament types. These temperaments are the predispositions or preferences we are born with and that shape the way we see the world. (See my earlier blogs on temperament I and II).

This was my first time offering this workshop and it was so much fun! I moved the group around the room, helping them to assess their own temperaments, play a temperament board game, and build a Fortune 500 company of their temperament roles. I also was fascinated by the results of what we found. In a typical population nationally, we would expect about 40 percent of the population to be Guardians (the traditionalist cooperative group), about another 35 percent or so Artisans (movers and shakers and rule benders), with only 15 percent Idealists (let’s all help each other grow), and 10 percent Rationals (intellectual/analytical/mastermind personality). In this group, however, the representation was very skewed. Probably 40 percent (the largest group) ended up in the Rationals category. This prompted a lot of good discussion about whether this temperament type is a particularly good match for homeschooling.

This was an interesting thought to me. Using temperament theory, one would expect Rationals to feel somewhat out of place in a traditional classroom. To begin with, being 10 percent or less of the population, there might be only one or two of them in any classroom. On top of this, Rationals tend to find the academic part of school relatively easy, and they seek to finish it as rapidly as possible and with the least amount of wasted time. With their intense, often discriminating personality and high standards for others, they are likely to find a traditional school room annoying, wasteful, and not the best use of their time. This can make for a rocky experience unless they are challenged and given freedom to pursue mastery of subjects that interest them. It wouldn’t surprise me, therefore, if these students and their parents often looked for other options. This was an unexpected learning moment! For an interesting set of questions to help you guess your temperament, try this worksheet.

I was so happy and blessed to be able to share this material. I had a number of students and parents that said that the temperament concept was going to help them both in discovering a career fit and in improving their relationships with each other. I’ll be looking forward to sharing this workshop with new audiences.

My new book, What’s Your Function? also delves into Temperament Theory, particularly as it relates to the way that we all grow and mature, and how our personalities change over time. If you find that you’ve hit a midlife crisis, or that you just don’t look at the world the way you used to, maybe understanding temperament can help. Check it out at What’s Your Function?

Tagged , , ,

What’s Your Function Release Date

My new career advising book, What’s Your Function? Working it out with God, will officially release online and in stores on October 15th – just a little over six weeks from now! If your local bookstore does not have copies on that date, you can request they order it for you. You can also find it on Amazon or  Barnes & Noble.com where it is available for preorder, or Christianbook.com, where it releases on November 4th. All three online locations have it on a 25% pre-release deal.

What’s Your Function? helps readers discover what role God designed them for, and how they can manage their careers with that design in mind. It has received great reviews so far, and I hope you will find it to be an inspiring and practical tool to guide your career planning.