The Japanese professor’s mandate was simple: write down a few big life goals and discuss. The results in a class of 20-odd driven millennials in a Global Leaders’ scholarship programme?
Borderline pageantry responses. (Though not quite this convoluted.)
Post-it notes scrawled with “peace” and “happiness” and so forth. I was quietly proud of my three, though the essence was much the same: “increase global happiness and reduce suicide” (for God’s sake Hannah, how?)”; “write my novel” (you’ve been saying that for at least six years now, if not more); and “travel the world by boat” (it once was sail around the world but I will settle for cruise ships. I am 30 now, you know).
The professor specialises in innovation and concept creation and spent sixteen years under the great Soichoro Honda. Honda as in the founder of Honda, and a man described by the New York Times as “rebellious auto mechanic who defied the Japanese Government and built one of the world’s biggest and most innovative auto companies from the ruins of World War II”. How is that for an epitaph?
Back to the post-it notes.
“ABSOLUTE RUBBISH,” the professor screamed at us. “GET OUT!”
He is half-joking but mimicking the style of the great Soichoro. Bring your A-game or beat it.
“Happiness – what is happiness? Peace?!! These are all the same – no one is different!”
He pointed to the door: “UNBELIEVABLE – GET OUT!”
For someone who normally has something to say on every occasion, I was stumped.
He turned and looked me so hard in the eye I felt my lazy one start to quiver.
“How old are you?” he asked.
“I’m 71,” he said. “I am 71 and I would pay 10 million dollars to be your age again.
“10 million dollars! You should be taking your life goals more seriously,” he goes on.
“Every day, your life value is dropping by hundreds of dollars. And you say you want peace and happiness. GET OUT! You must think much harder about these things.”
And here we are, in the Western world, thinking our value increases until it peaks at 45-ish, then starts declining. The reality is productivity and earning capacity does not denote value and the value of time only increases as we age.
Thank you, sensei for this lesson. You are so very right.
So, what would you do with $10m in the bank? You already have it – go spend it.