Lesson from Hironobu Sakaguchi

At the old workplace, I was told not to wear hairpins. The exact words were, those are childish. I am amused as to how plain, black bobby pins that I use to keep my hair out of my face are seen as a childish fashion statement when I was using them for practical reasons. But I didn’t have much interest in worrying about how and why bobby pins offend other people, so I just let my hair gets into my eyes.

I started this post with that because in the pic below, taken a few days ago, I am back to wearing bobby pins in my hair. Bliss. Now I can see better.
I am also amused to find out that a lot of people at the old workplace remarked that they didn’t think I would last there anyway. I mean, come on people, you should have seen it from day one. I know I certainly didn’t hide the fact that the way I work and “my culture”, as opposed to “Company X culture” were different. You didn’t have to wait til I have left for a month to make that speculation. And I like the fact that it was apparent that I was different. I came in with certain expectations, with certain very high expectations in fact, and it didn’t pan out the way I believed it would be. In the final analysis, both Company X and I are better off. I think Company X is examplary in many ways, but it wasn’t my cup of instant soluble coffee. 
So can the snide remarks. It’s not worth your time talking about a person who’s not even part of your work/social circle anymore. Turn the page. Change the channel. Live a little.
As to my so-called idealistic, romanticized view of work and workplaces.
I am not looking for the perfect condition. I know there isn’t any. I could and had, worked in some of the most extreme and unbelievable circumstaces Try producing an official, autobiographical, full-colour, hard cover coffee table book in 3 days; or running secret missions in Papua, then you can talk to me about having unbelievable circumstances.  What I look for is things to learn so thhat the 35year old Ijah is better-skilled and better-informed than the 25year old Ijah. When I feel I am not progressing, or worse – regressing, I cut my losses, chuck it up to experience and start anew. So your perfect place is not my perfect place. Company X may mean the world to you, and the job you have in Company X may mean everything to you (actual words said by one of the referenced ex-co-worker) but it wasn’t ideal for me and for my ambitions. I am not sorry for having to go through that experience. If I didn’t give it a shot, I would always wonder if I am missing out. It was a gamble, and I knew fully well what the possible outcomes might be. Que sera sera.
I am also not sorry for knowing what I want for me, and of me, and for relentlessly pursuing it. It’s not because I am single, or have no commitments, or have no life – humour me: try living my life for one day and let me know if you can stay awake doing gratis, no-remuneration whatsoever side projects at 4:52am after a full day’s work, a dinner with a friend and a drink with another, close to 120mins total commute time, an hour traversing Omega Ruins looking for Spirits to capture, and another hour playing the guitar before the string snapped. Then we can talk about how my life is empty and meaningless, ok? And, this is not even me bragging about how busy and full my life is. This is just me recapping just another normal day in my life. Look at the time stamp of this post. It’s 4:58am now and I am still typing.
I also want to address this belief that no matter where one works – crappy bosses, office gossiping, blatant bootlicking and rampant fishmongering and coasting along doing just enough (or often called “work smart”) are an accepted, no, expected, part of the scene. This, I will apologize for. Sorry, I don’t accept that theory. In fact, I reject it.
I have worked with great people whom I admire and emulate; and in or with companies that inspire and fill me with pride to be able to call them my workplace. I have been part of teams where teamwork means working on the same side although we may hate each other’s faces. And I have witnessed how change can start with one small act or just that one person who pushes change through. So don’t tell me it doesn’t exist or that I am being too idealistic. Martin Lundal did it. Prof Muhammad Yunus did it. Dato’ Tony Fernandes did it. Carlos Ghosn did it. Shigeru Miyamoto did it. Heck, even Susan Boyle did it. If you want to look at a smaller every day scale, that barrista at Coffee Bean did it.
And all these people have one thing in common. They believe there is a better way of doing things for them, and they do not flinch from  that belief. And if it means challenging the status quo or try try try try try various options and methods and places and people, they keep trudging on. I look for these qualities in the people I interact with and in my surroundings, especially so at work since that’s where I spend the bulk of my waking hours. There is no working smart. They worked hard. The smart part is following through their beliefs and sticking to it. Big or small is immaterial. You gotta have scruples.
A friend relayed to me a very nice story tonight. She said many years ago, when I was given the task to run the school children’s programme, I hired professional entertainers to teach the team how to do simple magic tricks and tell stories and whatever else to basically keep children fascinated and engaged in what we were trying to teach them. I have absolutely forgotten about it. In fact I could not even recall it, until she pressed me. I feel a little warm inside that after 7 years, it is this memory that she chooses to remember about me. That means change can happen and have happened. Small, baby steps. That’s ok. I am not aiming to solve world hunger or plug holes in the ozone layer. 
Remember this: people wrote off Hironobu Sakaguchi pre-Final Fantasy. They wrote him off post Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within that became the second biggest animated boxoffice bomb in history (the first being Disney’s Treasure Planet). They wrote him off again just last December after Cry On. All these naysayers, despite the fact that Sakaguchi-san has sold 80million games worldwode and created the most successful franchise, if not the standard bearer, in RPGs that changed the gaming world. After all these time, after surprising and silencing critics again and again, after attaining an illustrious, almost God-like status in the industry, he still has to prove himself.
If Sakaguchi-san can and still trudges on, so will I.
http://squarehaven.com/people/Hironobu-Sakaguchi/At the old workplace, I was told not to wear hairpins. The exact words were, those are childish. I am amused as to how plain, black bobby pins that I use to keep my hair out of my face are seen as childish fashion statement when I was using them for practical reasons. But I didn’t have much interest in worrying about how and why bobby pins offend other people, so I just let my hair gets into my eyes.

I started this post with that because in the pic below, taken a few days ago, I am back to wearing bobby pins in my hair. Bliss. Now I can see better.

amin_acikIjah-pola

I am also amused to find out that a lot of people at the old workplace remarked that they didn’t think I would last there anyway. I mean, come on people, you should have seen it from day one. I know I certainly didn’t hide the fact that the way I work and “my culture”, as opposed to “Company X culture” were different. You didn’t have to wait til I have left for a month to make that speculation. And I like the fact that it was apparent that I was different. I came in with certain expectations, with certain very high expectations in fact, and it didn’t pan out the way I believed it would be. In the final analysis, both Company X and I are better off. I think Company X is examplary in many ways, but it wasn’t my cup of instant soluble coffee. 

So can the snide remarks. It’s not worth your time talking about a person who’s not even part of your work/social circle anymore. Turn the page. Change the channel. Live a little.

As to my so-called idealistic, romanticized view of work and workplaces.

I am not looking for the perfect condition. I know there isn’t any. I could and had, worked in some of the most extreme and unbelievable circumstaces. Try producing an official, autobiographical, full-colour, hard cover coffee table book in 3 days; or running missions in Papua, then you can talk to me about having unbelievable circumstances.  What I look for is things to learn so that the 35year old Ijah is better-skilled and better-informed than the 25year old Ijah. When I feel I am not progressing, or worse – regressing, I cut my losses, chuck it up to experience and start anew. So your perfect place is not my perfect place. Company X may mean the world to you, and the job you have in Company X may mean everything to you (actual words said by one of the referenced ex-co-worker) but it wasn’t ideal for me and for my ambitions. I am not sorry for having to go through that experience. If I didn’t give it a shot, I would always wonder if I am missing out. It was a gamble, and I knew fully well what the possible outcomes might be. Que sera sera.

I am also not sorry for knowing what I want for me, and of me, and for relentlessly pursuing it. It’s not because I am single, or have no commitments, or have no life – humour me: try living my life for one day and let me know if you can stay awake doing gratis, no-remuneration whatsoever side projects at 4:52am after a full day’s work, a dinner with a friend and a drink with another, close to 120mins total commute time, an hour traversing Omega Ruins looking for Spirits to capture, and another hour playing the guitar before the string snapped. Then we can talk about how my life is empty and meaningless, ok? And, this is not even me bragging about how busy and full my life is. This is just me recapping  another ordinarily normal day in my life. Look at the time stamp of this post. It’s 6:00am now and I am still typing.

I also want to address this belief that no matter where one works – crappy bosses, office gossiping, blatant bootlicking and rampant fishmongering and coasting along doing just enough (or often called “work smart”) are an accepted, no, expected, part of the scene. This, I will apologize for. Sorry, I don’t accept that theory. In fact, I reject it.

I have worked with great people whom I admire and emulate; and in or with companies that inspire and fill me with pride to be able to call them my workplace. I have been part of teams where teamwork means working on the same side although we may hate each other’s faces. And I have witnessed how change can start with one small act or just that one person who pushes change through. So don’t tell me it doesn’t exist or that I am being too idealistic. Martin Lundal did it. Prof Muhammad Yunus did it. Dato’ Tony Fernandes did it. Carlos Ghosn did it. Shigeru Miyamoto did it. Heck, even Susan Boyle did it. If you want to look at a smaller every day scale, that barrista at Coffee Bean did it.

And all these people have one thing in common. They believe there is a better way of doing things for them, and they do not flinch from  that belief. And if it means challenging the status quo or try try try try try various options and methods and places and people, they keep trudging on. I look for these qualities in the people I interact with and in my surroundings, especially so at work since that’s where I spend the bulk of my waking hours. There is no working smart. They worked hard. The smart part is following through their beliefs and sticking to it. Big or small is immaterial. You gotta have scruples. You gotta have grace.

This is what I learned: people wrote off Hironobu Sakaguchi pre-Final Fantasy. They wrote him off post Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within that became the second biggest animated boxoffice bomb in history (the first being Disney’s Treasure Planet). They wrote him off again just last December after Cry On. All these naysayers, despite the fact that Sakaguchi-san has sold 80 million games worldwide and created a money-spinning and highly successful franchise, if not THE standard bearer, in RPGs that changed the gaming world. After all these time, after surprising and silencing critics again and again, after attaining an illustrious, almost God-like status in the industry, he still has to prove himself. How many millions of games have these naysayers sold? Not 80 million copies, I bet.

If Sakaguchi-san can and still trudges on,  well, me too. Me too.

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