I asked myself recently, "What is this blog really about?" Shouldn't a blog be about something?
I plan to cover many subjects that interest, inspire, or infuriate me, but what is the point?
I think I have found the answer: kaizen.
Kaizen is a Japanese word meaning "improvement". Kaizen as a concept in business was first introduced in the US by Masaaki Imai in his 1986 book, "Kaizen: The Key to Japan's Competitive Success". I would definitely recommend this book to any business owner or manager, it's a management classic.
You may be asking, "What does this have to do with your blog?". Let me tell you...
I am on a quest to become, not only a more true version of myself, but the very best version of myself. I want to be a better Christian, father, husband, speaker, and writer. I want to learn new languages and skills. I want to be constantly learning and improving every aspect of my life. I don't want to be a static character, who never learns anything in life, but remains blissfully ignorant, no matter what happens around him. Nobody wants to be Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin or Al Bundy...
So, when I'm blogging about the Church, the point is to become a better Christian and build a stronger relationship with God, a more sure foundation for a better church, to become more like Christ. When I'm blogging about learning languages, it is so I can become a better communicator. When I'm blogging about business or finances, it's in order to be a better businessman and money manager.
It's about constantly improving myself and that brings me to my next point...
All this self-improvement is pointless if I am dead or too unhealthy to enjoy it. I have decided to finally take my health seriously. I am starting this journey at 332 lbs, with way too many aches and pains for a thirty-two year old. My feet hurt. My knees hurt. My back hurts. My hands go numb and ache (this is happening as I type). It's time for a change.
I have quit drinking soda and have replaced it with water. After a couple of weeks of this, I plan to replace my morning energy drink with hot tea. I will do more, but I want to implement these new habits incrementally, which should increase the likelihood of success.
I am also starting an exercise routine, which for now will consist of doing Tai Chi in my living room while my wife laughs at me. In her defense, I'm sure it is entertaining to watch. That's why I'm doing it in my living room and not the park...
Tai Chi is a great option for anyone who needs an exercise that will strengthen the core, improve mental and physical balance, and increase flexibility, with low joint impact. I will add more to my exercise routine, but once again, it will be more effective if implemented incrementally.
I will keep you all updated with my progress in future posts. Until then, embrace the principle of "Kaizen". Don't wait. Don't be afraid. Today is the perfect day to start on the path to becoming the best version of you that you can be!
A Little Background
I have always had a fascination with linguistics. I believe this stems from the fact that I love to talk and not being multilingual severely limits the number of people with whom I can easily communicate.
If I could have one superpower, it may be the ability to read, write, and speak in any language. With this power, an important message, and some good persuasion skills, I could be the most powerful man on earth...
Move over Superman, you're not the only game in town anymore!
This really isn't about world domination, however. I just have a natural affinity for learning (or at least dabbling in) languages.
Unfortunately, where I used to enjoy languages, I am becoming more and more frustrated.
I am beginning to be bored with my few hundred words of Spanish (which can get you surprisingly far if you don't mind sounding like a four year old...). It works great if I'm ordering tacos or even menudos (that's a whole other blog post), but it gets really frustrating when I need to go off-menu.
I can finger-spell fairly quickly in ASL and I know a decent array of words, but I have a hard time keeping up when I actually get into a conversation or need to interpret for a deaf friend.
I need to step up my game... That's why I'm learning 4 languages at the same time: Spanish, American Sign Language, Russian, and Japanese.
Why Do I Want to Learn 4 Languages?
As I stated earlier, I love to talk, so why not learn the necessary skills to be able to communicate in multiple languages.
There is also a self-actualization aspect to language learning that is undeniable. Such a great challenge as becoming fluent in a new language has to have some intrinsic value in terms of self-enrichment.
Aiden, my almost-eight-year-old is also infatuated with language, specifically Japanese. He is currently showing off his Japanese skills to anyone who will listen!
There are some more concrete and practical reasons for wanting to learn these four languages in particular. Those deeper reasons are different for each of the four languages. I'll out line those reasons for each.
My reasons for learning Spanish are mostly practical. I have several friends and some family who speak Spanish as their first language, as well as several members of our church. I also have a lot of time invested in learning Spanish vocabulary and grammar (which is still a struggle for me). I took two years of Spanish in high school and one semester in college. It seems that I'm too close to give up now.
My reasons for learning ASL are similar to the reasons I'm learning Spanish. There are about five deaf members in our church. There are times when I need to communicate with them on a little deeper level than I am able to with my current skills. I have also spent quite a bit of time learning to fingerspell and learning signs. My comprehension and signing speed need to improve drastically. I also need to learn quite a few more signs.
I have always wanted to speak Russian, but I have to admit it's mostly so I can sound like a Bond villain when ordering borscht...
On a more practical note, I have intermittent contact with some missionaries in the former Soviet
Union and would love to go on a missions trip to that area of the world. I know that some sort of missions work is in my future. I've known this since I was a kid. To some degree, I believe that is what has driven my infatuation with languages.
I love so many things about Japan... Business culture (kaizen has become a foundational principle for me). The national obsession with baseball. Anime. Samurai culture. Quirky video games (see Parodius or Harmful Park). Food (Oh, sushi! How I love thee!). The inexplicable obsession with cats and hamsters. What's not to love?
I want to learn Japanese to watch some Japanese films in their original language and play some games that were never released in English.
On a side note, if you haven't seen it yet, stop reading and go watch "Jiro Dreams of Sushi". It's easily one of my favorite documentaries of all time. I believe the best way to experience a culture isn't by visiting national monuments and tourist traps, but by experiencing a series microcosms within the culture at large. Jiro's restaurant is one such microcosm. It's absolutely fascinating!
I will do in-depth reviews of all of these tools and more in future posts.
How Will I Measure My Success (or Lack Thereof...)?
I have given this quite a bit of thought, but I keep hitting a wall...
There is no perfect answer, but this is what I've come up with so far.
Here Goes Nothing!
Thanks for continuing to read my blog and joining me on this journey of self-improvement and enrichment. Check back on my progress. Share with your friends and comment or message with any questions!
Who am I?
I'm a random guy.