2011  April 19

Don’t Be Small

By some happenstance today, I recalled a Japanese television program (comedy/drama) called “Chance” that I avidly watched when I should have instead been working on my doctoral dissertation (translation: I was procrastinating). It’s in Japanese but I found this link recently.

The protagonist is a rock star that chooses to go on hiatus in the US for a couple of years at the top of his popularity. When he returns to Japan his fans, and the management company he created for his music, have all forgotten him. It’s a silly adventure into the comedy of ego, the importance of artistic integrity, and the fragility of confidence. The rock star’s name is Yuji Honjo, and at the time of my thesis-writing he was truly my hero.

There’s a phrase Honjo uses as a refrain throughout the TV series for whenever he encounters people that interest him where he says, “Chiisaku matomanna yo” which is Japanese slang to say literally, “Don’t reduce yourself into something small.” Said in more of a US-centric way, he’s saying, “Think big!” This of course in Japan is a big deal to say, because it is the country with the famous saying, “Deru kugi wa utareru” which translates as, “The nail that sticks up will get hammered down.”

Japan is a society where thinking big can often get you dressed down very quickly. So to hear this said over and over by the protagonist, “Chiisaku matomanna yo,”  in this drama was quite refreshing. And it literally helped me finish my dissertation because I didn’t want my thinking to be so small ... well, I guess I wanted to think big!

So, if you’re thinking of not thinking big thoughts today, just remember, “Chiisaku matomanna yo!” -JM

Via a fortune cookie: “The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”

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Copyright 2009 - 2016, John Maeda