Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hodo-hodo zoku

image The words literally translate from Japanese as “so-so folks”, and the Wall Street Journal says it’s the newest trend among salarymen.  They are workers who are refusing promotions, shunning civil-service exams, and forgoing raises in favor of slow careers.  “Not everybody needs to become a leader…Forget goals, and stay true to yourself”.

  In contrast to the young hodo-hodo, I’ve been a lifelong learner and striver.  But I wonder if there will come a time when I willingly make a transition to a slower career, or to none at all.

I thrive on the creative challenges of medical diagnostic innovation, the competitive sport of releasing products to customers, and the social rewards of seeing patient’s lives changed for the better.  I’ve always been ambitious about wanting to lead projects, programs, and businesses, and I’m fortunate that my career has opened those opportunities for me.

I am close to peers and colleagues who are finding themselves at  crossroads, where reorganizations have isolated their function, where bosses no longer count them as ‘high potential’, where the flow of new opportunities slows.  Some make a transition out of operations and development into positions where they network, mentor, or consult.  Others, faced with health or family problems, drop out all together.

Maybe this is an inevitable part of our evolution in life: at some point, we all ‘go hodo.

I do know that I haven’t reached that stage: I still have visions of needed products and drive to work with talented people.  I even still harbor desire to advance within the organization.

But I’m also know that I’m spending increasing amounts of time on complementary pursuits that matter to me.  I’m developing a Diagnostics course module that I’ll be teaching with others during  winter term at Cambridge.  I love the travel and photography that I’m doing.  I want more time to read books, draw charcoals, and practice Dutch.  I’d like to find ways to do more teaching and mentoring.

Scary: it’s starting to sound a bit like regret…

MIT Lecture (2) Earlier this week, I had an open evening in Lausanne, and I ended up drifting into the MIT OpenCourseware archive.  Silly, but I spent an hour watching a fascinating physics lecture on magnetism by Walter Lewin.  Three thoughts, on that evening:

  • Don’t we live in a remarkable time, able to casually tap into these resources,
  • I wish I had more time to watch the whole series,
  • Walter Lewin never had a hodo-hodo moment.

  and, I suppose, neither will I.

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