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Have I? Have you?

Lately I’ve been reading the online magazine Inc. which is geared toward small business owners and entrepreneurs.  I’m loving the tips and advice and chance to learn from others’ experiences.  Today I found this fabulous article which really hit home. It is a completely different concept of achieving success – asking yourself 10 questions.  Once you read the list, I believe you will see how checking in with yourself every day and being focused on results will push you to achieve more.  The article is below or you can read it on the Inc. site – HERE.


10 Questions That Create Success

Want help focusing on what really matters? Ask yourself these on a daily basis.
By Geoffrey James | Jan 23, 2012

Think that success means making lots of money?  Think again.

Pictures of dead presidents have never made anybody happy. And how can you be successful if you’re not happy? And buying things with that all money isn’t much better. A new car, for instance, might tickle your fancy for a day or two–but pride of ownership is temporary.

Real success comes from the quality of your relationships and the emotions that you experience each day. That’s where these 10 questions come in.

Ask them at the end of each day and I absolutely guarantee that you’ll become more successful. Here they are:

1. Have I made certain that those I love feel loved?

2. Have I done something today that improved the world?

3. Have I conditioned my body to be more strong flexible and resilient?

4. Have I reviewed and honed my plans for the future?

5. Have I acted in private with the same integrity I exhibit in public?

6. Have I avoided unkind words and deeds?

7. Have I accomplished something worthwhile?

8. Have I helped someone less fortunate?

9. Have I collected some wonderful memories?

10. Have I felt grateful for the incredible gift of being alive?

Here’s the thing.  The questions you ask yourself on a daily basis determine your focus, and your focus determines your results.

These questions force you to focus on what’s really important. Take heed of them and rest of your life—especially your work—will quickly fall into place.

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Pressure Makes Us

When I lived in Japan, I was lucky enough to be present for the 2006 World Cup.  Having met Japan’s goalie, Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, in 2005, I was a huge fan of the team and enjoyed many Jubilo Iwata soccer games during the regular season.  During the 2006 World Cup, met up with my J-friends and cheered in unison with everyone else wearing samurai blue.  I even woke up at 4am for a couple games, also the final, even though Japan wasn’t playing.

During World Cup mania, my students would often ask me, “If Japan and US are in the final, who will you cheer for?” (Actually, they asked this more in the form of our classroom English, “Do you like Japan team or USA team?”) My response was always, “I like both.”  They understood that I am American, but have a deep love for Japan and my J-peeps. Japan made me a FIFA fan.

During the men’s World Cup last year, I watched several matches, as Vietnam is a soccer crazy country and most games were televised at the Press Club, where I worked and all over Hanoi.  As I watched Japan play, I wore my official blue jersey in support and jumped for joy when they beat Denmark and shed a tear when their run ended against Paraguay. The team advanced further than they ever had and I was tremendously proud.  My friends in Japan emailed me often through the tournament to check if I was cheering for Japan.  I also gathered with lots of my mates for an England match along with my fellow expats (USA matches weren’t always shown).  I was equally bummed when the US did not pull off a win against Ghana, ending their enthusiastic run. I was happy for Spain, in the end and enjoyed watching that country celebrate its victory (and secretly wished I could be there to join in the fun!)

On Sunday, I was excited for the game, yet I was really conflicted as to who to cheer for.  In all honesty, I wanted both teams to win.  Both teams had put up a good fight to get to the final and both teams had equally compelling stories as to how meaningful the win would be for them. My heart was torn.

I was online during the game, tweeting and chatting with other friends on Facebook at crucial moments of the game.  With the ESPN announcers writing off the Japanese after the US scored their first goal, I found myself pulling more for Japan than for the US.  How can you write off any team with almost twenty minutes left in the game? The online sentiments were about the same… looked like the USA was going to pull off the win. And I found I kept shaking my head with the resounding over-confidence of the US.

We all know what happened in the game.  US took more shots and Japan played heavily on the defensive.  Yet, at the end of play, the score was tied.  And at the end of extended play, the score was tied.  To me, that does not mean that the US handed Japan the game or that the US deserved to win.  The game was tied.  The score was even.  And at the end of the day, Japan blocked penalty kicks and landed more in the net to win the game in a shoot out.

What followed the game was a long list of sentiments that rang to the tune of “The US should have won that game.”  All I could think of is, “Why?”  @NikeWomen even tweeted “The Toughest Losses Make The Strongest Teams. Incredible effort by #USWNT. Congrats, Japan. #PressureMakesUs.” Was even Nike saying that the US was the better team and that somehow the loss makes the US the stronger team? Notice the order of the comments…Nike couldn’t even begin with a congratulatory note. (BTW – there has been nay a tweet from @NikeWomen referring to #PressureMakesUs or Japan’s win/USA’s loss since the above post-game tweet, instead moving forward with a #MakeYourself campaign.)

In a San Diego forum, a comment read: Am I the only one who realizes that Japan did not deserve this win, they did nothing for it, the US gave it to them. Should have been 4-1 US by the end of it all. Stupid luck was all it is.

Really? So it was sheer luck that got Japan to the finals?  Did they just bypass all the qualifiers and semi-final matches and magically appear in the final?  Or did they work just as hard, play just as tough and earn, just as much, their spot in the final game? Japan’s final game strategy may have been different than America’s but ultimately, Japan scored more goals. Ultimately, Japan won the game.  “Deep down inside, I really thought it was our destiny to win it,” Carli Lloyd said. “But maybe it was Japan’s.”  Even US players had to attribute their loss to something greater than Japan’s or their own abilities. You would be hard pressed to find comments from the Japanese players stating that they felt they deserved to win or it was the team’s fate to be champions.

One of the biggest factors of culture shock in returning to the US is to see, hear and feel the ego of America.  There is nothing wrong with patriotism, except when it borders on arrogance.  Hubris is never cool, never sexy, and never results in the win. The US team and supporters could do well by being happy for Japan, by genuinely congratulating them on their win and most importantly, maintaining a winning attitude.  Nobody likes a sore loser. Is that what pressure makes us?

I’m angry.

My face today. I have lots of patience.  But when other people waste my precious free time on a Saturday, I get a bit steamed.


Remember how excited I was for this weekend…for my designer appointment and the plant guy to come over and help me choose plants to help spruce up the place?

Well today was one of those days which teaches you not to have expectations.

I scooted out of work “early” today to meet the team from Dome.  They were coming here to measure my spaces, suggest materials for curtains and the sofa and design ideas for the big pieces of furniture.  So I’m in the taxi on the way home and I get a message from the designer to say that they couldn’t come, “I forgot about another appointment.”  Seriously?  I’m ready to drop some serious cash on living, dining and bedroom furniture and they leave it on the table?  What kind of craziness is that?

So I come home and see that Hien is still here and I ask if she minds staying because I had also scheduled the plant guy and he speaks no English at all.  She agreed.  And so we waited and we waited.  30 minutes after the appointment time, we called his number.  He forgot about the appointment and was sleeping.  He said he’d be here in 10 minutes.

30 minutes later I give up and Hien and I called it a day.  He showed up.  And he goes nuts.  I need 20 expensive plants in my window box for $100 and other super tall plants for another $200, and ??? and ??? and the total starts growing.  And then he said he would need an advance.

I should say that this is the gardener for the Press Club.  Instead of showing some respect, he chose the option to take advantage.  Me no likey.

So I drew the type of plant I wanted and how many and asked him to see if he has them and then to come back at me with cost.  Yeah – let’s see where that goes.  Disappointing.

So instead of spending the afternoon hours of my Saturday being productive and checking some boxes on my To Do list, I am no further in filling my apartment with beautiful things than I was last week.

Damn it.  I’m pissed off about this, but I just need to chill out and stay focused.  Things don’t happen that easily in Vietnam, I’m learning.

Breathe.  Remember that some things happen for a reason.  Respect that and move on….it’ll come together.  It WILL come together.

On the Bright Side,



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