In “There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job,” author Kikuko Tsumura details the everyday struggles of modern life, focusing on our complicated relationships with work.
Taking her place among a growing number of exceptional female writers in Japan, Tsumura deftly handles work habits and relationships, stereotypes and expectations for success. She sets all of these against a repetitious, unending search for what is valuable and valued. The novel unfolds as a profound meditation on contemporary society and what makes work meaningful.
The novel’s unnamed narrator is 36 years old and single. She has no choice but to move in with her parents after quitting her 14-year career due to burnout syndrome. When her unemployment insurance runs out, she prepares to reenter the workforce with a dry matter-of-factness. Saying, “I’d sat down one day in front of my recruiter and informed her that I wanted a job as close as possible to my house. Ideally, something along the lines of sitting all day in a chair, overseeing the extraction of collagen for use in skincare products.”
There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job
In her attempts to find work that is meaningless and undemanding, the narrator goes through five jobs over the course of a year.
In one role, she checks surveillance footage of a novelist who has unknowingly received priceless gems in a covert smuggling scheme. She then works as an assistant to an enigmatic Ms. Eriguchi in another job, writing pre-recorded advertisements. Taking on a ‘leadership’ role, she fills in for Mr. Kiyota. His life work is creating enlightening content to go on rice cracker packages. But at a point, he had to take a mental health break after failing to find a wife.
Whereas putting up posters in a neighborhood as a job may seem nothing glamorous, that is until it gets competitive. She inadvertently gains a mysterious adversary who posts competing signage. Finally in her last of five jobs rounds, she joins a national park’s maintenance crew. Her job is to monitor the forest from a small hut, surrounded by peculiarities such as a local soccer team’s lost apparel, missing breadfruit and a book from her pre-burnout life.
“I’d like it if this would help readers to know that even if they encounter feelings of despair in their working lives, it doesn’t have to be the end. Something else will come around.”
The narrator navigates each workplace’s demands and relationships with various coworkers. Gradually she becomes aware of a meaning underlying all endeavors in life, even those that seem bizarre. Each of the jobs, despite the increasingly absurd series of events, validates the interconnectedness of all actions.
It’s the kind of novel that presents a swathe of tangled threads, trusting the reader to weave together the connections on their own.
How Hard Is It To Find Meaning In The Modern Workplace?
“I was first drawn to the boldness of the concept. I remember reading a summary before reading the text itself and just thinking, ‘There’s no way that something like that can work,’” says translator Barton in an interview with The Japan Times. “And then I found myself as a reader so drawn in, just wanting to immerse in that world forever. It seemed like such a coup. Given that it was a book entirely about work. And we find out really nothing about the private life of the narrator,” says Barton.
The novel finishes with a dose of wisdom about karma, extolling trust in the “ups and downs” of the universe. The narrator solves the jewel smuggling caper. She observes the mysterious power of spoken words. And then creates meaning in the mundane, and subverts the activities of a cult.
Finally, she helps another victim of burnout syndrome to reenter society. All while taking steps in her own recovery toward essential work.
For Tsumura, who sets many of her stories within the realm of working life, the English publication of her book is well-timed. The ongoing pandemic and an increase in remote work has forced many people to reevaluate their working lives and how it affects their search for a fulfilling life.
Hope For The World Of Jobs, Work, Life, Satisfaction And Despair
Tsumura recently told Barton that, “The narrator changes jobs many times, experiencing both satisfaction and frustration. But ultimately, she keeps on moving forward. Sometimes voluntarily, and sometimes pushed on by her situation. I’d like it if this would help readers to know that even if they encounter feelings of despair in their working lives, it doesn’t have to be the end. Something else will come around.”
There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job, by Kikuko Tsumura has 416 pages and is translated by Polly Barton.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever. By subscribing to Japan Times (the first place where the original of this write up was first featured), you can help them get more story right.
image: The Guardian UK/Mo Abudu/Premium Times/Hidden Camera Naked Shots of Òlòtūré/Worklife Profits From Slavery Changed Scottish Highlands Landscape
Money earned through enslavement work played a key role in the eviction of Highlanders in the 18th and 19th centuries, study finds.
Between roughly 1750 and 1860, in living their life and doing their work, wealthy landowners forcibly evicted thousands of Scottish Highlanders in order to create large-scale sheep farms. Known today as the Highland Clearances, this era of drastic depopulation sparked the collapse of the traditional clan system. Additionally, it led to the mass migration of Scotland’s northernmost residents to other parts of the world.
“Others benefited indirectly by inheriting money or marrying into families that had profited from enslavement.”
As Alison Campsie reports for the Scotsman, new research argues that this pivotal period in Scottish history had close ties to the enslavement of people in British colonies. During the period, a cadre of individuals enriched by slavery evicted at least 5,000 people from their property. Thereby buying up more than one million acres of land relinquished during the clearances.
The pair’s research also features in a new episode of “Eòrpa,” a BBC current-affairs show anchored by journalist Ruairidh MacIver.
The episode is not accessible in the United States. But United Kingdom based viewers can watch it via the BBC’s website.
Per the Scotsman, MacKinnon and Mackillop found that some landowners made their money from the direct enslavement of individuals on British plantations.
Others benefited indirectly by inheriting money or marrying into families that had profited from enslavement.
“The history of the Highlands in 1700s and 1800s isn’t complete without mentioning slavery. It is where the money was made.”
Losses From Worklife Profits And A National Write Off
All told, beneficiaries of slavery made at least 63 estate purchases during the clearances. They bought up territory that now comprises about 33.5 percent of all the land in the western Highlands and Islands. Adjusted for inflation, the researchers estimate that these buyers spent at least £120 million on land ($158 million USD). Because the authors are missing purchase prices for 22 of the estate sales, the true total is likely much higher.
Similarly, MacKinnon and Mackillop estimates that beneficiaries of slavery evicted at least—but likely more than—5,000 people during the clearances.
The majority of these purchases took place between 1790 and 1855, with peak slavery-related sales taking place in the late 1830s.
These sales coincide with a period in which the British Parliament paid out roughly £20 million to “reimburse” former enslavers. This is for their financial losses after the British Empire formally abolished slavery in 1833. (According to the Scotsman, this compensation amounts to more than £2 billion, or $2.6 billion USD, today.)
John Gordon of Cluny, is a colonel who is described in a separate Scotsmanarticle as “one of the most hated men in Scottish history.” He received the equivalent of £2.9 million as compensation for the more than 1,300 people he had enslaved on plantations in the Caribbean. And he went on to purchase the Scottish islands of Benbecula, South Uist and Barra, evicting nearly 3,000 people in the process.
Assisting Informed Debates On Work Profits From Slavery And Its Legacies
The new study is part of a larger effort among Scottish researchers to illuminate the full story of the country’s ties to slavery. As Mackillop notes in a statement, the pair’s report seeks “to encourage informed debate over the tangled legacies of Scottish society’s substantial and sustained involvement in slavery within the British Empire.”
MacKinnon adds, “It is now clear that returning wealth from Atlantic slavery had an important impact on landownership change in the West Highlands and Islands in the 19th century. And it contributed significantly to the development of extractive and ecologically damaging forms of land use.”
“And many Scots owned humans directly. Especially in countries along the West African coast and in the West Indies.”
As Alasdair Lane reported for NBC News this June, these debates have gained traction in the wake of ongoing Black Lives Matter protests against systemic racism. Scottish merchants played a key role in the trade of enslaved people. And many Scots owned humans directly. Especially in countries along the West African coast and in the West Indies.
Scots have historically been portrayed as “abolitionists and liberal champions.” But their exploitation of Guyana, a country located at the northeastern tip of South America, contradicts this image, wrote Yvonne Singh for the Guardianlast year.
Work Profits From Slavery And Reparative Justice
Profits from enslavement work bolstered some of the country’s most renowned institutions.
In 2018, for instance, the University of Glasgow announced that it had received nearly £200 million in today’s money from donors involved in the slave trade, as Helen McArdle reported for the Heraldat the time. The university committed to a reparative justice program. They also created a new center for the study of slavery and embarked on collaborative projects with institutions such as the University of the West Indies.
Scottish historian David Alston,compiled a list of individuals with financial investments in both the Highlands and Guyana. This is as part of his two-decade investigation of the relationship between slavery and the Highlands. He tells the Herald’s Jody Harrison that “[t]he more I’ve studied this, I think that you really don’t understand the history of Scotland or the history of the Highlands unless you understand the importance of the slave trade in that history.”
Alston adds, “The history of the Highlands in 1700s and 1800s isn’t complete without mentioning slavery. It is where the money was made.” In living their life and doing their ‘work‘, wealthy individuals worklife profits from slavery changed the course of history for several generations. Many dead, much more, yet unborn.
Nora McGreevy is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared in Wired, Washingtonian, the Boston Globe, South Bend Tribune, the New York Times and more. She can be reached through her website, noramcgreevy.com. Follow her @mcgreevynora
image: trumzz/Getty Images/Build A Mentoring Relationship With A Leader You Admire
Years ago when I taught a graduate leadership course in Seattle, one of my students asked me to be his mentor. This was about a week after the class had ended. It was clear that the question was difficult for him. Throughout the course, he appeared disinterested in my teaching, aloof, and often scoffed at the materials I presented. I’d assumed that he didn’t like the course or me.
But what caught me off guard that day was his sincerity. He explained that he’d had some bad experiences with mentors in the past. He came to realize that the people he had reached out to and admired weren’t genuinely interested in helping him grow. And they usually wanted something in return: free labor, an ego boost, the chance to feel important.
Trusting someone he wanted to learn from was still difficult. But he’d found the courage to ask me anyway. His vulnerability was disarming. I’d never been formally asked to “mentor” anyone and I felt like a fraud. I feared that if he knew my many flaws and insecurities, I’d end up being yet another disappointment.
Reluctantly, I agreed and decided I could simply hide those parts of myself.
Trust, Vulnerability And Growth In Mentoring Relationships
It wasn’t until months later, when we had built a foundation of trust, that I felt comfortable enough to follow his example. Sick of carrying around my angst, I confessed my fears about being the “perfect” mentor. As it turned out, the last thing he wanted was my perfection. He wanted me to be human, to see how I dealt with my shortfalls, and grew to trust me more because I acknowledged them.
I tell this story because I understand how complicated relationships between different generations can be in academic and professional settings. We spend a great deal of time comparing what we each have to offer to one another, and to the world.
In academia, young students want professors to help them make sense of the world. While their professors are worried about keeping up with their publishing demands.
At work, many emerging leaders feel those senior to them stand in their way. While those in senior roles privately question their relevance in the face of younger, tech-savvy newcomers. Such is the dilemma that both sides faces in an effort to build a mentoring relationship.
It Is Beyond The Legacy Or Wisdom Of Older Leaders, We Need Each Other
The irony is that the legacy of older leaders is only secured through helping the young ones reach their potential. And the opportunity to fulfill your potential as a young leader can be realized much more fully if you make an effort to inherit the wisdom of your predecessors. We need each other to feel like we both matter.
If a senior leader you want to connect with hasn’t figured that out yet, there are ways to help them, as my mentee helped me. Of course, all generations have more work to do in this area. These connections can only be made if both sides build bridges and make an effort to understand our mutual wants and differences.
But right now, I want to empower you, the young leader, with a few tools that I’ve seen help lay the foundation.
Test Your Assumptions And Labels.
Chances are, if you’ve struggled to connect with a particular older leader, you’ve formed biases about them. You may have interpreted some of their behavior as off-putting, unapproachable, or disinterested in you. While your concerns may very well be valid, it’s also important to check yourself before completely writing them off.
I initially interpreted my student’s aloofness as disinterest. When in fact, it was the opposite. You may be surprised by what you find when you dig a little deeper.
Before shutting the door on a relationship with an older employee, put yourself in their shoes. Could you be misinterpreting where they are coming from? Are you projecting some of your own anxiety or misgivings onto them?
If you have any connection with someone who knows them better, check in with them to find out more to test your beliefs. Make sure that your criteria for judging their behavior isn’t based on how similar or different they are from you. The things that are different about them, may end up being the most valuable.
Use Vulnerability, Not Just Confidence, To Build Credibility
Many emerging leaders feel the best way to win the approval of older leaders is to appear confident, smart, and assertive. But that can backfire. It can come across as entitled or overly self-assured.
After asking me to be his mentor, my graduate student went on to confess that his behavior during our class was his way of trying to prove that he didn’t need help. He told me, “It’s funny, I was looking to be developed and led by trying to convince both of us that I needed neither.” His humility deeply impressed me.
What will show more seasoned leaders your maturity and credibility is being vulnerable. Being able to openly talk about what you don’t know. Asking for help in places you feel unsure, and acknowledging areas you need to improve. While that may feel risky, older leaders know that there’s only so much legitimately earned confidence, someone who is early in their career will have. Faking more than you have will only make others less likely to trust you.
Demonstrating that you know your limitations by being confident enough to ask for help indicates you are trustworthy and open to learning. If you are struggling with a project, for instance, you might say, “I’d love to get your input on this. I’m feeling really good about these parts, but I haven’t had enough experience in this area and I know that it’s your expertise.”
Avoid Complete Deference
On the other hand, extreme deference can create distance. In some cases, it can make you come across as a suck up. In others, it establishes a formality that makes senior leaders feel as though they always have to “be on” when they are around you.
Believe it or not, deference triggers a sense of imposter syndrome, a fear many older leaders have (that they aren’t worthy of the role they are in). This was my struggle in my relationship with my graduate student.
You want to be someone that older leaders can feel safe with. Someone who they can be themselves around. When leaders across generations can learn to be vulnerable with one another, it can be transformational.
Find Common Ground
What many emerging leaders long for is to feel respected by older leaders.
Creating “peership” with older leaders — approaching them as equals without being cocky and showing respect for their seniority without being overly deferent — is one of the hardest parts of these relationships.
To establish mutuality, learn about their lives outside of work. If they have pictures of their family in their office, ask about them. Or, if you’re on a video call and one of their kids walks in the room, use that chance to learn more about their life. To build a mentoring relationship that will last long, also find out what interests they have outside of work.
When my student and I were first getting to know each other, I was still a newcomer to Seattle. My family and I were steeped in boxes from our move to the new city and he offered to help. As we unpacked boxes of books in my office, he asked about my clients and the work I did. It became a ritual for us to sit on the floor in front of the bookcase and tell stories of leaders facing real-life challenges.
Shared humanity is a great way to establish common ground, setting the foundation for a strong relationship. It also helps neutralize any hierarchical differences without ignoring them. You can show respect for your differences in experience by asking about their career choices and how they’ve approached their development.
Ask For What You Need
As simple as it sounds, seasoned leaders love when younger leaders cut to the chase and ask for what they want. If you want more time with someone, ask for it within reason. You probably can’t get an hour a week, but you might get an hour a month. With such baby steps, you will build a mentoring relationship that is fulfilling.
If you want more opportunities to have your ideas heard, ask for it. You can say, “I know our meetings are very full, but sharing my ideas is an area I need to grow in. Sometimes we move so fast that I don’t feel comfortable jumping into the fray. I wonder if we could set aside 15 minutes in an upcoming meeting for me to share an idea and engage the team?”
What Rejection Actually Mean
If you fear your request will be denied, you’re not alone. Many emerging leaders are afraid of the feeling of rejection that comes with that denial. Instead of personalizing silence, or a “no” answer, ask the other person to help you understand.
Whatever their response, they likely have your best interest in mind. You may have to ask several times to make something happen. This is why you should always ask with a level of respect, and explain why your request makes sense. Any hint of insistence, entitlement, or sulking if your request isn’t granted, is more likely to be met with resistance.
Remember that your desire to connect with more experienced colleagues is worthy and admirable. You are beginning to walk your way to build a mentoring relationship that is mutually beneficial. You are striving to learn from them, to offer something in return, and to broaden your network beyond your peers. Learning how to make those desires known to senior leaders takes practice, but it’s a skill you will use all your life.
It may feel risky, and at times, it will feel uncomfortable. But that discomfort is the same thing that will make your relationship go from enjoyable to transformational.
Start Now, Start Small. Keep It Friendly, Informal And Enjoyable
It takes some work to build a mentoring relationship. But you can start small. Who is a more experienced professional or leader that you admire? Someone you’d want to emulate? Whose career has made you think differently about your own?
Reach out to them. Let them know how they, and their work have influenced you. And then, ask for a 20-minute virtual coffee. Prepare one or two questions to ask them. Keep it friendly and informal. Let them feel enjoyed, and help them to enjoy you. Some of the greatest relationships of our lives start with a simple question over a cup of coffee.
image: Westend61/Getty Images/Mentoring During A Crisis-Place Of Self And Mentee
Shortly after September 11, 2001, I (David) stood in the cafeteria line at work, anxieties still swirling in my mind. I happened to see one of my mentors, a senior member of our department. After we exchanged hellos, our conversation quickly turned to current events.
I remember he said two simple – yet powerful – words: “It’s scary.”
Almost instantly, my fears began to settle, replaced by a sense of connection. Knowing I wasn’t alone made a difference.
Even The Strong Need A Strong Hand Of Support
We have combined ~50 years of experience mentoring healthcare professionals before the Covid crisis. And now during it, we’ve learned just how important mentors can be—especially for those on the front lines.
For months, doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, postal carriers, and many others have been navigating physical danger, complexity, and uncertainty, with no end in sight. Now more than ever, they need emotional support.
But they can’t always turn to their managers. They also may be consumed with solving problems and likely overwhelmed with keeping their organizations running.
Workers may also fear their managers. They are the ones who hold the key to their future advancement. There is always the concern that managers may view a request for help as a weakness. That is where you as a mentor can play a critical role. You can provide them with a stabilizing force. This is the time to be that someone who can help talk them down when they’re triggered, scared, burned out, or confused—all off the record.
Fortify Yourself First
However, if you consider yourself a mentor to someone on the front lines, the first step is to take care of yourself. You can’t offer emotional support if you don’t have your own emotional fortifications in place. Then you can turn to helping your mentee’s by offering them emotional support and concrete tactics.
First, you need to take stock of your capacity. Do you have the necessary time, focus, and energy for your mentee? If you don’t have time but still want to help, one solution is to help your mentee’s develop a “team of mentors.”
If you do determine that you have the bandwidth to play a mentorship role, ask yourself: what can I do to fortify myself? Ultimately, you cannot provide care to others with an empty tank.
The Basics Are Not Luxuries But Essentials
Adequate sleep, nutrition, exercise, and activities that provide rejuvenation and meaning—such as meditation, prayer, nature walks, listening or playing music—are not luxuries; they are essential.
Micro-practices such as keeping a gratitude journal, deep breathing, and moments of mindfulness such as when using hand sanitizer can build moments of wellness into your day. And they take only seconds to minutes to implement.
And just as your mentee benefits from having you and other mentors to support them, you need your own support network as well. Highly effective leaders lean on support teams of colleagues near or far, and good mentors do the same. Do this by scheduling regular check-in calls with friends, family, mentors, coaches, spiritual advisors, or mental health professionals.
Encourage Reverse Mentoring
In the same vein, keep in mind that your relationship with your mentee isn’t one-way. Being open to learning from your mentees can be a source of positive energy for both of you. Reverse mentoring can pay big dividends, both emotionally and practically.
Voicing your appreciation for these moments of exchange can also build your relationship and provide its own form of emotional support to your mentee.
Attend To Your Mentee’s Emotional Well-Being
In your work with your mentees, it may be tempting to focus on teaching them new skills. You may also feel the need to give them advice about how to solve specific technical problems. But during a crisis and for front-line workers, you’re one of the few places and persons they can turn to for emotional support. So it’s critical that you make their well-being a focus for any mentoring discussion.
Encourage your mentees to share what they’re feeling. Reassure them, offer wellness strategies, and affirm their strengths.
How Are You Really Doing?
Begin with listening. Ask your mentees, “How are you really doing?”—more than once. Expect to hear about grief, anxiety, and fear. Encourage them to talk about these feelings.
Naming emotions helps us feel them, and allows them to flow through us, bringing a helpful shift in brain activity and perspective. Expect too that your mentoring meetings may involve more emotion than usual, including tears.
Practise Highly Supportive Reflective Listening
If you’re worried about what exact words to use with your mentees, know that reflective listening is in itself highly supportive. This just involves taking the essence of what the mentee said and offering it back as a connecting confirmation that they have been heard and understood.
For example, if your mentee is describing how stressful work is, you could say, “I hear it’s really stressful—and it’s hard to know what to do with the unexpected.”
If you want to dig deeper, you can ask, “What is your biggest challenge right now? What is helping? What’s going well—or still OK—in your world?”
In times of stress, clarifying what is most important to your mentees can be the biggest gift of all. In so doing you help them appreciate and focus on the things that bring meaning and purpose to their life.
Lower Expectations, Appreciate Strength
Offer reassurance and opportunities for connection. Discuss lowering expectations in these uncertain times. Explain that they shouldn’t feel they have to push themselves beyond their limits.
At the same time, express your appreciation for their strengths.
Simply naming them can be surprisingly helpful: “One of the things I most appreciate is your curiosity and drive for learning.” Or: “Coronavirus is one for the history books. You’re helping to pull us through. Thank you.”
Encourage Increase In Number And Spread of Mentee’s Support Team
Finally, share tactics for supporting their emotional well-being. Encourage your mentees to have their own support team and to limit their media exposure.
Offer a detail or two about your support team, and how you use it; ask about their own loved ones. Even just talking about mental health resources helps to normalize them. Each of us has used a coach, psychologist, therapist, or spiritual counselor. And at various times, has shared this fact with our mentees, as appropriate.
For both mentors and mentees, this may also be an especially meaningful time to renew dormant connections. Even if it’s been years since you’ve been in touch. A “check-in” call or e-mail can help.
And while virtual mentoring may not be as satisfying as the in-person kind, there is evidence supporting its efficacy. In ways large and small, one person can make a lasting difference.
Even a few words, mentioned in passing, can last a lifetime.
Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) has announced its decision to host all 2021 sessions virtually. Running the program virtually, started with the 2020 edition. It was a natural action for the program as organisations across the world went virtual because of the effect of COVID-19 pandemic. At YYGS, the top priority is protecting the health and safety of students, instructors, and staff in the program’s community.
Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) is an unparalleled academic and leadership program at Yale University. It is an academic enrichment program for outstanding high school students from around the world. Each summer, students from over 130 countries (including all 50 U.S. states) participate in one interdisciplinary, two-week session.
Check Your Eligibility And Then Apply Now
Eligible Countries: YYGS accepts applications from ALL countries, and offers the opportunity for students to apply for need-based financial aid to students from ALL countries.
Eligibility: In order to apply to YYGS, applicants MUST fulfill all of the following requirements:
Age: Be at least 16 years old by July 19, 2021 (first day of Session III). This rule is so that YYGS is in compliance with legal restrictions for running a summer program for minors, and no exceptions can be made.
English Fluency: Be able to participate in a rigorous academic curriculum conducted in English.
Grade Level: Be a current high school sophomore or junior (or international equivalent).
Graduation Date: Be graduating in May/June 2022 or 2023 from the Northern Hemisphere, or in Nov./Dec. 2021 or 2022 from the Southern Hemisphere.
YYGS Participation: Be a first-time participant in YYGS. If you have participated in any YYGS session during a previous summer (e.g., 2020, 2019), then you are not eligible to participate during YYGS 2021. Please note: If you previously applied to YYGS but were not offered admission or were unable to attend AND you meet the eligibility criteria noted above, then you are encouraged to re-apply for YYGS 2021.
APPLY NOWfor the 2021 Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) program!
Application Deadline:November 10, 2020 (Early Action) and January 12, 2021 (Regular Decision).
Fees: Program tuition is significantly adjusted to account for the virtual offering. The total cost for a two-week session of YYGS Connect 2021 is $3,500 USD. YYGS still plans to award financial aid (in partial or full tuition discounts) to students with demonstrated need. To be considered for financial aid, students must complete the financial aid section of the YYGS admissions application.
About Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) Online Program
The online program, YYGS Connect, will closely mirror and build upon last year’s online model. Summer 2020 was incredibly diverse and included participants from over 130 countries and all 50 U.S. states.
Students were able to deeply engage with one another during live academic program components. This also continued within private official YYGS Facebook groups, and as members of the YYGS social media team. The program is dedicated to continuing to find creative ways to foster global connections in a virtual setting.
Participants will take part in a curriculum that is designed to be as rigorous and intellectually rewarding as the on-campus experience.
This programming includes access to Yale campus resources through Opportunities Across Yale (OAY) virtual events. OYA connect students to libraries, campus departments, faculty, and more.
During YYGS Connect, students will average 20 hours a week (with weekends off) and participate in live Yale faculty lectures, small-scale seminars, simulations and more. All students who successfully complete the program will receive an electronic completion certificate.
TestimonialAbout Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) Connect – Online Program
“Even though our daughter couldn’t have the in-person experience because of the pandemic, she left each online class feeling like she had been pushed to think critically and brainstorm ideas to solve many different global challenges. We got to learn something new every night at dinner as she enthusiastically brought up the discussions she had in class. Additionally, YYGS made sure that the transition to an online platform was as seamless as possible. The program managers were extremely organised and supportive throughout the session. YYGS was definitely the best and most enriching summer experience she’s ever had.” -Nelson S., YYGS Connect (2020), Parent
Similar to last year, students will participate in a morning or afternoon track that best suits their time zone. YYGS Connect has a strict attendance policy, and students must attend all program components to earn their completion certificate. Interested students can view tentative schedules on the YYGS Connect webpage.
“Despite [YYGS] going virtual due to the pandemic, I was able to meet a diverse group of people from all over the world, who had their own unique sets of beliefs. To this day, I am still talking to the people that I have met from the two week program, and I continue to meet more alums through the alumni network.” –Eric L., YYGS Connect (2020), Student
Learn More – Sign Up For Webinar
YYGS staff will host a live webinar next week to discuss the virtual program in more detail. Guest speakers will include a YYGS lecturer, instructor, and alumnus who attended YYGS Connect last year. Sign-up for the webinar here.
Work can be a daily grind; a hard, monotonous set of thankless tasks. In the midst of the toil, many are plagued by a lack of purpose, confused as to what to do and who to become. And while some of our vocations may seem more overtly meaningful than others’, the truth is that most of us work because we have to. It is a means to an end―survival. So a person of faith can rightly ask the question, how does my work life and faith in Jesus connect?
Every kind of work is a sacred calling. However, again, how does my work life and faith in Jesus connect? How does Sunday relate to Monday? What difference does the gospel make when I am stocking shelves, turning wrenches, or answering phones?
“The priesthood of all believers did not turn all Christians into pastors. But it did turn every kind of work into sacred calling.”
These are the types of questions that commonly haunt the everyday, ordinary Christian. For those who are serious and sincere in their faith, but who are not part of a pastoral staff or religious nonprofit, what role do they play in God’s kingdom on a day-to-day basis?
Connecting the dots between the Christian faith and missionary work is easy. Connecting the dots for truck drivers, politicians, union leaders, the police and dental assistants is hard. They are therefore entitled to ask, over and over again, how does my work life and faith connects?
How Does My Work Life And Faith Fits Every Kind Of ‘Sacred’ Work?
Gene E. Veith’s book God at Work has quickly become a classic in the Faith and Work titles. Written in 2002, Veith approaches the conversation, employing the Lutheran framework for vocation that emerged amidst the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.
The Reformers, especially Luther, sought to reclaim the notion of calling (vocatio in Latin) for the Christian laity.
Veith writes, “In scrutinizing the existing ecclesiastical system in light of the Gospel and the Scriptures. The Reformers insisted that priests and nuns and monastics did not have a special claim to God’s favor. But that laypeople, too could live the Christian life to its fullest.”
Work (Vocation), Life (Family, Citizenship, Church), And The Priesthood
This dovetailed nicely with the well-known reformational emphasis on the priesthood of all believers. The doctrine that “all Christians enjoy the same access to Christ and are spiritually equal before Him.”
“The doctrine of vocation, though it has to do with human work, is essentially about God’s work. It is also about how God works in and through our lives.”
The “priesthood of all believers,” Veith clarifies, did not turn all Christians into pastors. But it did turn “every kind of work into sacred calling.”
Building upon this foundation, Luther and the Reformers recognized multiple callings for every Christian. This includes the calling to work, family, citizenship, and church.
Two-Kingdom’s Model: The Super-Efficiency Of One Compared To Another
Each of these vocational categories receive a chapter in Veith’s book. But, before diving into these, he considers “How God Works through Human Beings.” There, he employs the Lutheran Two-Kingdom’s model to explain how God works through means.
Following Luther, Veith puts forward distinct spiritual and earthly kingdoms. He explained that God uses the spiritual kingdom to restore sinners and to rule in their hearts, equipping them for everlasting life.
Just as God uses the means of the church to accomplish the purposes of his spiritual kingdom, he also works through means of the earthly kingdom, especially natural law, to accomplish his plans.
He as well works through the so-called “secular” vocations of people in the earthly kingdom. “That is, He institutes families, work, and organized societies, giving human beings particular parts to play in His vast design.”
How Does My Work Life And Faith Addresses The Purpose of Vocation?
Veith also addresses “The Purpose of Vocation,” “Finding Your Vocations,” and “Your Calling as a Worker.”
He writes that vocation is played out, not just in extraordinary acts, the great things we will do for the Lord. And not in the great success we envision in our careers someday. But in the realm of the ordinary.
He then encourages that we demonstrate our ‘vocation’ in whatever we face in the often humdrum present. Which can be while washing the dishes, buying groceries, going to work, driving the kids somewhere, or hanging out with friends. He believes this is the realm into which we have been called and in which our faith bears fruit in love.
Connecting Work-Life, Faith, Today’s Misery And Tomorrow’s Greatness?
This emphasis on the “ordinary” is right and beautiful and has gained greater traction in recent years. An arguable extension of the “faith and work” movement has been the revival of interest in everyday liturgies. This see all of life as sacred and holy, purposeful before God, despite how extraordinary it may or may not be.
Veith goes on to say, that “the doctrine of vocation, though it has to do with human work, is essentially about God’s work and how God works in and through our lives.” If there were a one-sentence summary to the book, this would be it.
He repeats this idea at the end of chapter five, reflecting on those who responded to the planes crashing into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Those responders insisted their bravery was simply, “doing their jobs.”
Veith responded this way, “That is the doctrine of vocation. Ordinary men and women expressing their love and service to their neighbor, ‘just doing our jobs.’”
Veith’s God at Work made a deep impact upon its release in 2002 and continues to occupy an important place in the ongoing conversation on faith, work, and vocation.
May God at Work remain not only on the shelves of those teaching and preaching about Christian vocation. But may it find its way to the bedside table of all Christians, that each may become a mature and ministering worker of God.
Welcome to WorkLife Feedarticles and site-files indexing and adaptation series.
ERLC Editor’s Note: The original article is part of ERLC’s primer series on Christians ethics. It is where a respected leader and thinker recommends and gives a summary overview of a book that helps orient readers to a certain aspect of ethics and philosophy. This series is designed to equip the local church to engage foundational texts of Christian ethics. Find the entire series here.
Many successful companies were born in people’s dorm rooms, garages, and basements. So what is it about success start-off in basements, garages, and bedrooms? Possibly nothing.
Perhaps it is just normal for new or young entrepreneurs with big ideas and little money to spend, to just start from where they are and what they have. Not just wisdom, but prudence that comes out of constraints, and determination that some expenses (including a proper office space) should be out of the question in the early stages of building a business.
Amazon Online Book Store – Jeff Bezos (Home Garage)
Amazon began as an online book store in Jeff Bezos’ home garage. In 1994, Jeff Bezos decided to take advantage of the internet’s potential. He quit his New York hedge fund job and drove to Bellevue, Washington, where he rented a house.
Bezos spent a year programming the site which initially sold books out of his garage, and in July 1995, success start-off for Jeff and Amazon.com went live.
In a 1998 interview , Bezos said, “I know why people move out of garages. It’s not because they ran out of room. It’s because they ran out of electric power. They have so many computers in the garage that circuit breakers kept flipping … we couldn’t plug in a vacuum cleaner, or a hair dryer anymore in the house.”
“It’s not where you start but where you finish that counts.”
Facebook Idea – Mark Zuckerberg’s (Harvard Freshman Dorm Room)
Mark Zuckerberg created a website called Facemash in 2003 while studying at Harvard. The site let students judge other people’s levels of attractiveness, but was quickly taken down after two days.
Keeping the momentum going, a year later, Zuckerberg and his friends Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes created The Facebook. Thereafter, success start-off and the social networking site quickly spread to colleges across the country.
In the years since, Facebook has come under attack over privacy concerns. While testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Commerce Committee during the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, Zuckerberg often cited his humble roots, explaining , “The history of how we got here is we started off in my dorm room with not a lot of resources.”
On a visit back to Albuquerque, Gates said, “There’s no better symbol for the entrepreneur than the humble garage. Of course … we founded our company in a garage to preserve the pile of money I got from my parents, but I assume other people do it because they’re poor.”
“Things are never quite as scary, when you have a best friend”
Google – Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Susan Wojcicki’s Garage)
According to a Business Insider profile of Susan Wojcicki, in 1998, Wojcicki and her husband, Dennis Troper, bought a four-bedroom home in Menlo Park, California, and rented the garage out to two Stanford doctoral students to help pay their mortgage.
The students happened to be Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who were working on their new company, Google. Wojcicki eventually became the 16th employee at Google, which later moved to an office space in 1999.
In 2019, Page and Brin stepped down from the company, writing, “We could not have imagined, back in 1998 when we moved our servers from a dorm room to a garage, the journey that would follow.”
“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people”
Apple – Steve Jobs (Parents’ Garage)
Back in 1976, Steve Jobs’ parents’ garage in Silicon Valley played a role in the early stages of Apple. However, Jobs and his co-founder, Steve Wozniak, quickly outgrew the space, Wozniak told Bloomberg Businessweek.
According to a Washington Post article, Wozniak has dubbed the idea that Apple was “founded” in a garage “a bit of a myth,” but he also admitted that the garage is part of the company’s story.
In 2014, he told Businessweek, “The garage represents us better than anything else, but we did no designs there. We would drive the finished products to the garage, make them work and then we’d drive them down to the store that paid us cash.”
The garage, from where success start-off for Jobs, is attached to his childhood home in Los Altos, California, and has since been designated as a historic site .
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Walt Disney – Walt Disney(Uncle’s Backyard Garage)
In 1922, Walt Disney created “Alice in Cartoonland,” which were seven-minute bits combining animation and live-action. But Disney was cheated by a New York film distributor and eventually had to move to Hollywood to find other work in the movie industry.
In Hollywood, Disney lived with his uncle and set up shop in his garage drawing cartoons. According to Encyclopedia Britannica , after hearing that his “Alice” cartoon was still popular, Disney and his brother Roy purchased a $200 used camera and set up Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. From there they created the entire “Alice Comedies” series and success start-off for them.
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure”
Under Armour – Kevin Plank (Grandmother’s Basement)
According to a Business Insider profile of Under Armour, In 1996 , Kevin Plank founded the company with the goal of creating athletic wear that was able to wick away sweat and be worn as a base layer for intense activity.
At the time, Plank was living in his grandmother’s townhouse in Georgetown, where he used the basement as his office.
In an interview with The Washington Post , Plank said, “I remember the guys from the NFL called me up one day and they said, ‘Kevin, we’re going to be in D.C. today, we want to come by the office and see you,’ which had me looking around Grandma’s house thinking ‘Oh my gosh, don’t do that.'”
“Quitting employment is the best decision I ever made in my adult life. There is a lot of contentment in building your own empire. It is step at a time but with so much satisfaction as you climb the growth staircase.”
Spanx – Sara Blakely (Her Apartment In Georgia)
Sara Blakely was working as a door-to-door fax machine salesperson when she came up with the idea for Spanx. While wearing open-toe shoes, she decided to cut the feet off of a pair of pantyhose and realized she was on to something.
As explained in a story by Forbes , Blakely spent two years carefully researching and preparing for the launch of Spanx while also working a full-time job. She then went to a pitch meeting and convinced Neiman Marcus to give her product a chance. Using Neiman Marcus as leverage, Blakely was then able to also convince Bloomingdale’s, Saks and Bergdorf Goodman to give Spanx a shot.
But even then, she had no corporate space. She’d package and ship the Spanx orders from home with the help of her boyfriend , and took phone calls from her bathtub or bed, according to the Forbes article.
Laurie Ann Goldman came to help Blakely, becoming the fifth employee and eventual CEO. In an interview with Forbes , she recalled her first office being the kitchen in Blakely’s Georgia apartment.
According to Forbes, as of June 2019, Blakely had a net worth of $1 billion.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
Tumblr – David Karp (Childhood Bedroom)
In 2007, David Karp founded Tumblr, the micro-blogging and social-networking site. At the time, Karp was working from his bedroom in his mother’s small apartment in New York. According to The Guardian , on the night the site went live, it gained 75,000 users.
In an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune about Karp’s love for computers, Karp’s mom said, “David would come running through the apartment saying, ‘Mom! Mom! There’s this and this and this!’ And I didn’t know what the heck he was talking about. Because it was a whole other language.”
The Washington Post reported that in 2013, Tumblr sold to Yahoo for $1.1 billion. But in 2019, WordPress bought the blogging site for a rumored mere $3 million.
“If you don’t build your dreams, someone will hire you to help build theirs”
Dell – Michael Dell (University of Texas Dorm Room/Garage)
In 1984, most computers were mailed in separate parts, with consumers expected to assemble them themselves. Michael Dell wanted to sell custom-built computers designed for individual company’s specific needs.
The original company name was PC’s Limited , which he started in his college dorm room at UT Austin. Needing more space, Dell moved to his nearby garage, eventually dropping out of college to pursue Dell full time and his success start-off after.
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”
Harley Davidson Motorcycle – William Harley (Wooden Shed)
In 1901 , William S. Harley drew a blueprint for an engine that could fit inside a bicycle. In 1903 , William and his brother Arthur built the first Harley Davidson motorcycle in a 10-by-15-foot wooden shed.
The shed’s door had “Harley Davidson Motor Company” written on it.
Today, Harley Davidson is valued at about $2.8 billion. In 2019, there were an estimated 1,569 dealerships around the world.
“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed”
Yankee Candle – Mike Kittredge (Family’s Kitchen)
In 1969, the then 16-year-old Mike Kittredge melted crayons and canning wax to make his mother a candle for Christmas in a milk carton.
A neighbor was also interested, eventually inspiring Kittredge to design and craft the candles in his family’s kitchen, where the company known now as Yankee Candle was eventually born. That was from where his success start-off.
“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you”
Hewlett Packard – Bill Hewlett and David Packard (One-car Garage)
After bonding on a camping trip, Bill Hewlett and David Packard began renting a garage in Palo Alto and working there part-time. In 1938, the duo created Hewlett-Packard’s first product , the resistance-capacitance audio oscillator, which was used to test sound equipment.
Mattel – Harold “Matt” Matson and Elliot Handler (Garage)
In 1944 , Matt Matson, a skilled craftsman, was working out of his garage in Southern California when Elliot Handler asked if he could build some of his picture frame ideas. Handler’s wife Ruth then took the samples and sold them for $3,000 at a local photography studio.
In October of 1944, after the frames were a huge success, Matson and Handler decided to combine their last names, and Mattel was born.
While building frames in the garage, Handler also made dollhouse furniture out of the leftover wood from the picture frames. The furniture became a huge success and the company eventually pivoted towards making toys. The pivot paid off, their success start-off and as today Mattel is valued at about $3 billion.
“Risk more than others think is safe. Dream more than others think is practical”
Empires From Sand Castles Or Side Hustles – Get The Passion Out
Two billionaire brothers raised in a terraced house in Blackburn are on the brink of buying supermarket giant Asda. Mohsin Issa, 49, and sibling Zuber, 48 could rubber stamp the mega money buy-out soon with a deal to take over the supermarket giant Asda.
Mohsin and Zuber Issa, self-made tycoons are part of an expected £6.5billion takeover of Britain’s third biggest grocer.
It would cap a remarkable rise for the brothers whose mother and father came to Britain from India in the 1960s with little to their name.
Billionaire Brothers Started Out In A Garage
Mohsin, 49, and Zuber, 48, the billionaire brothers started out in a garage which their dad, who had worked in a woollen mill, bought.
They branched out on their own, first renting a petrol station for two years. Then in 2001 buying their first forecourt, a derelict freehold site in Bury, and formed Euro Garages.
Their empire, the EG Group, now has almost 6,000 sites across 10 countries, from the UK to the US and Australia. They run outlets for Greggs, Starbucks and KFC, and employs 44,000 people.
In 2017, it bought 77 Little Chef roadside restaurants.
Zuber said: “We grew (EG) from nothing.”
“We’ve been on the pumps, we’ve been stocking the shelves, cleaning the toilets. You do everything.”
“And once you do the foundation work, it’s no different wherever you go in the world. It’s a petrol station; you’re selling fuel, you’re selling coffee, you’re selling convenience.”
Mohsin said the company “makes more money selling a cup of coffee than we would do on an average tank fill-up”.
Mohsin, who is married and with two grown-up children, runs the business day-to-day. While Zuber is responsible for strategy and acquisitions.
A Strong Giving Connection To A Starting Root
Sources describe the low-profile brothers as humble, with a strong connection to their Blackburn roots.
They have just opened a £35million HQ in the town and in 2012 set-up local football team Euro Garages FC.
The brothers also set-up the ISSA Foundation which funds projects promoting health, educating and tackling poverty in the UK and abroad. The foundation also bought an MRI scanner for Blackburn Royal Hospital.
Starting Off On A Billionaire Wealth Journey From Blackburn’s Terraced Streets
In 2017 they bought a Grade II listed Georgian townhouse in London’s Kensington for £25million, which is now being converted into a luxury home.
Meanwhile, it is just a 10 minute drive from Blackburn’s terraced streets to wide open spaces of the town’s millionaire’s row overlooking the rolling Lancashire hills.
It is here that the siblings are building five giant homes for themselves and their relatives.
As their petrol station business started to expand after the turn of the millennium, Zuber and Mohsin wanted to stay in the same area and moved with their families to a newly built large detached home.
Their parents still live in the area, close to the local mosque. But now it seems they will be joining their sons in a row of five incredible mansions, complete with basement swimming pools, on the edge of the town.
In a barber shop on a sloping street where they used to live in an end terraced house, the family are fondly remembered.
“They are good people, a very nice family” said one man. Zuber used to come in here to have his hair cut. They are good people who worked hard.”
A man strolling along the Issas old terraced street said: “They have done very well for themselves but they have stayed in Blackburn. “People have been talking about them buying Asda and are pleased for them. “They are well like people and have done well. Good luck to them.”
Billionaire Brothers Funding Model Of ASDA Deal
However, the money for the Asda takeover is coming from their personal fortunes. Private equity firm TDR, which owns half of the EG Group, is expected to put in a big chunk.
And it is believed Asda’s parent company, US giant Walmart, will retain a stake. Although the rumoured sale price is £5billion less than it paid for the chain in 1999.
Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty; Roy Rochlin/Getty Former First Lady Michelle Obama (left) and Valerie Jarrett /Michelle Obama Talks About Failure, Work-Life Balance
In the latest episode of her podcast, former First Lady Michelle Obama recounts her time in the workplace and why having women in leadership roles is so important.
Michelle Obama Talks About Life Switching Roles And Positive Impact To Leave Along
Wednesday’s episode between Obama, 56, and her former boss Valerie Jarrett, was a conversation that centers largely on work-life balance. Valerie went on to be a senior White House adviser.
Obama said that working with Jarrett, 63, served as a “important education.” This was not just because of the way Jarrett could command a room, but because of the effort she put in to taking time out for her daughter, Laura.
“Seeing some other female leaders making an effort to balance work and family life, makes others more productive. It gives a feel like, not just work had values, but our lives had value”
Remembering her time spent working under Jarrett (then deputy chief of staff for Chicago Mayor Richard Daley), the former first lady said to Jarrett on The Michelle Obama Podcast: “If Laura called, everything stopped … And you wouldn’t rush her. You know, you would answer her little 5-year-old questions. And then you would say, ‘Mommy will be home.’ Then you’d turn back around without skippin’ a beat, and be right back in it, and I thought — baller! Baller.”
Seeing Jarrett and some of the other female leaders making an effort to balance work and family life, Obama said, “made us all more productive, and feel like not just our work had values but our lives had value.”
Michelle Obama’s Work Application Interview Performance Amidst Life Crossroads
In their chat for The Michelle Obama Podcast, the two also detailed their first meeting. This was when Jarrett interviewed Obama for a role at the Chicago mayor’s office in the early 1990s.
The two had similar backgrounds, having both come to the public sector after working for law firms.
“I have to tell you Michelle, I can still remember you walking into my office, and you were so, you know, composed and confident,” Jarrett said. “And what did you do? You told me your story, which is unusual for people to do in an interview.”
“Failure is all part of life. I never want young people to think that failure isn’t a part of everybody’s journey”
That story was about Obama finding herself at a crossroads. She had lost both her father and one of her close friends within a year and had determined that she wanted to pursue a new path. According to Jarrett, the interview left her so impressed that she offered Obama a job on the spot, even without having “any authority” to do so.
After leaving Chicago politics, Jarrett went on to work as an adviser to President Barack Obama, serving in his administration from 2009 until 2017.
An Important Pathway Before Landing A Leadership Role
On Wednesday’s podcast, Mrs. Obama also shared stories about her conversations with her own daughters — specifically, 22-year-old Malia, now finishing college. She talked about the importance of paying your dues when it comes to landing a leadership role.
“I tried to make the point to Malia that the young people … who are my mentees, I reminded her that they started out, several of them, in the campaign, doing some of the grunt-iest jobs,” Mrs. Obama said.
“We are living, breathing role models – not just in what we say, but what we do”
Many of those who once volunteered for the campaign, or did entry-level work, she said, are now working alongside the Obamas.
“But the people who are with me now, and who now have responsibilities over my schedule, or they’ve helped run a big book tour, or they are running, our higher ground productions and working with Netflix, almost all those people started out doing some grunt work,” she said, laughing.
Michelle Obama Talks About Failure As A Part Of Everybody’s Journey
Equally important to working ones way up the ladder, Obama added, is learning that failure is all part of life.
“I never want young people to think that failure isn’t a part of everybody’s journey,” she said, noting that she failed the bar exam the first time she sat for the test.
“What does it do for me if … some kid thinks I’ve never had a failure. That, that’s the only way you can be first lady, is if you’re perfect? No one is,” she said.
“Strong men – men who are truly role models – don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful.”
Elsewhere in the episode, she and Jarrett spoke about the need to use their platforms to encourage others.
“We are living, breathing role models — not just in what we say, but what we do,” said the former first lady. She added later in the conversation that those with large platforms are “setting the tone for people behind us” and should always be aware of how their words and behaviors might be perceived.
The words echoed Mrs. Obama’s past remarks about role models.
In a 2016 speech while campaigning for Hilary Clinton, she offered a damning review of then-candidate Donald Trump‘s remarks about women. She said, “Strong men — men who are truly role models — don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful.”
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Getty Images for Berggruen Institute
With the passing of the iconic Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, many Americans have poured encomiums on her. Some wants her memory to be a blessing, others have formed an RBG hashtag revolution. The hashtag followers are promising to fight every day, as did #RBG to achieve #EqualityForAll.
RBG (Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) was until recently, the United States Supreme Court Justice. She is acclaimed to have lived an amazing life, impacting the lives of others before she died at 87, September 2020. She was appointed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton.
People were drawn to her for different reasons. For some, it is how she consistently delivered progressive votes on the most divisive social issues of the day. Issues such as abortion rights, same-sex marriage, voting rights, immigration, health care and affirmative action. Will a career advise from her take you from good to great?
Insight and nuggets of career advice from her can actually apply to everyone, regardless of career stage.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg And A Good Career Advice
Four years ago, Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote an article in the New York Times in which she offered her advice for living.
In the article, she says: “Another often-asked question when I speak in public: “Do you have some good advice you might share with us?” Yes, I do. It comes from my savvy mother-in-law, advice she gave me on my wedding day.
“In every good marriage,” she counseled, “it helps sometimes to be a little deaf. I have followed that advice assiduously, and not only at home through 56 years of a marital partnership nonpareil. I have employed it as well in every workplace, including the Supreme Court. When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.”
“It helps to be a little deaf”
Her line, “it helps to be a little deaf,” might just be the best piece of career advice ever given. And, like so many of her insights, her intuition is firmly supported by research. Being deaf to thoughtless and unkind words is essential to having a successful and fulfilling career.
Resilience, Response To Criticism And Letting Go
For example, tens of thousands have taken the online test “How Do You React To Constructive Criticism?” And we’ve learned that, when receiving tough feedback, fewer than a quarter of people are really able to let go of their anger and start moving forward.
But those who can respond effectively to tough feedback (i.e., tuning out the unkind words) are 42% more likely to love their job.
Research has also shown that people who do well at forgiving others (i.e. letting go of their anger and resentment) typically experience fewer negative physical health symptoms, like disorders of the cardiovascular or immune system.
Being able to tune out the thoughtless words you’re guaranteed to hear, isn’t just important to keep yourself psychologically healthy, it’s also a necessary ingredient for resilience. That is, one’s ability to bounce back quickly from failure, adversity, stress, etc.
“If you can keep yourself from perseverating on unkind words hurled in your direction, you’re far more likely to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go right back to what you were doing.”
Resilient Like A Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
And we need resilience right now. Data from the online Resiliency Test has discovered that fewer than a quarter of people have high resilience right now (you may want to test your own resilience).
In the study Employee Engagement Is Less Dependent On Managers Than You Think, 11,308 employees were surveyed about their engagement at work. And the study revealed that employees’ self-engagement (i.e. their personal outlooks like resilience, optimism, proactivity, etc.) can actually matter more than working for a great manager.
One of the discoveries from the study is that employees with high resilience are 310% more likely to love their jobs than employees with low resilience. And 136% more than employees with even moderate resilience.
Whether you want greater success or more happiness, whether you work from home or in an office, everything begins with Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s timeless and elegantly simple words, “it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.”
How The Pursuit Of Audacious Goals Can Marry Thoughtless Or Unkind Words
Anyone who pursues big or audacious goals (like being the second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court) is going to hear some thoughtless or unkind words. To help yourself, tune out those words, and implement Ginsburg’s advice, here’s a little trick.
“Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.”
Whenever someone hurls some unkind words your way, ask yourself, “What are the facts here?” Set aside the other person’s emotions (e.g., their anger, resentment, accusations, jealousy, etc.). Then, listen only for whether there are any facts.
Living A Remarkable Life, The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Way
Imagine someone says to me, “you’re an idiot for thinking that project would work, you didn’t even calculate an ROI. Only a moron would do something that stupid.”
There are plenty of unkind words in that diatribe. But there’s also a fact, namely, that I didn’t calculate an ROI. So I will take that fact (which is quite useful) and focus on it to the exclusion of the unkind words. By staying factual, we stay calmer. We’re then better to discern the one or two nuggets that are often contained within even the most thoughtless and unkind comments.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg led a remarkable life. And while we might not equal her legendary career heights, we can all apply her advice. We can be a little deaf to thoughtless and unkind words. As she notes, “Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.”
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