Forced to Rest

I should have been on a snowshoe tour right now. That’s what I would have been doing if everything had gone to plan. To my consternation, however, the Coronavirus caused most of my clients for the Winter tour season to cancel, opening up my schedule dramatically and leaving me to wonder what I should do with all my newfound time. So I checked out new snowshoe routes and did administrative work, both of which were necessary but but not urgent and kept getting pushed to the back burner. I would have preferred to be on tour, but perhaps I was handed some time to reflect. I would not have had time to write this post otherwise.

I’ve been told before I don’t know how to rest. To an extent, I think that’s true. I do always like doing something, work or play. I never saw it as a problem though because I know so many people more extreme than me. America and Japan are not exactly known for their work life balance, nor do they score high on societal happiness assessments. I would guess there is some correlation. Americans sacrifice their lives to achieve the American Dream while Japanese give them up for the company;  either way the result are the same. I see in myself the influences of both, the temptation to “always be doing something” instead of taking a moment to breathe or reflect. I want to feel productive, that’s not a bad thing . But if it’s simply checking items off to feel productive it’s meaningless, a mouse spinning on a wheel. It can even be damaging because you don’t take time to reflect on the big picture. There is motion but no movement.

I’m reading a book called “The One Thing” and I’m trying to now narrow the scope of my life. The premise is that most extremely successful people focus on one or two things, excelling and being known for just those. That’s hard for me because I want to do everything. I want to start more businesses and travel everywhere, play professional pickleball, teach camps, grow both of my travel companies, work as a freelance tour guide, organize tourmaments and introduce pickleball to more people (all of which I have been doing concurrently). Doing all those things are great and they might be profitable but are they sustainable long-term? Maybe not. Warren Buffet has a similar exercise where you write down 25 goals, then decide the top 5. Because you can only focus on 5 things at a time, you are not allowed to even think about the other 20 goals until you have accomplished the first 5.

I also like the ideas of the FIRE community (Financial Independence, Retire Early) and watch a lot of videos on the concept. As a minimalist, it appeals to me to live simply now so that when you achieve your financial goals, you don’t have to work if you don’t want to. While I like the idea, I’ve realized that it can turn work into something to trudge through with the light (retirement) at the end of the tunnel (work). I don’t want work to be a burden though, I want it to be fun and fulfilling. I want the financial independence of not having to work, but the desire to continue working because it’s meaningful. And for work to be all those things, I’m realizing I have to do a little bit less. Maybe that’s asking for too much. Or maybe turning 31 has forced me to realize that I’m not superman, I’m getting pretty old after all 😉

All that to say, it’s nice to have some time to reflect. I see the value now of scheduling time for reflection because it can be as important as the time you spend working. I wouldn’t say I’m in the rat race, but I can force myself back in if I constantly work without reflecting. You can’t always align your work with your talents or preferences, but at least you should know why you are working. There is still so much I want to do, I’m realizing it just takes time. As someone else famous said, “we overestimate what we can do in 1 year and underestimate what we can do in 10”. I want to continue doing the things I love for a long time, that’s what real achievement means to me.

 

World Pickleball Tour

For the past 3 and a half weeks, I have been traveling around the world playing, coaching and starting up pickleball in new locations. It’s been quite the adventure and I met some incredible people along the way.

I began my journey in Hua Hin, Thailand where I taught two pickleball clinics and played with the local club members. Next year, Pickleball Trips will bring a group of Americans to Thailand to play in a tournament and see the country, so I wanted to experience it firsthand. The beaches are pretty, the weather is warm and the food is delicious. What is there not to love about Thailand? After Hua Hin, I traveled to Bangkok, where I visited my friend Greg for a night and saw a band perform. Bangkok is ok but like most big cities, I try to get out as quickly as possible. Next I flew to Chiang Mai, where I played with the club there for a couple of days. Chiang Mai is a great city, loud and noisy but full of delicious food, things to see and just enough chaos. The players here are also among the best in Asia.

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From Chinag Mai, it was off to Singapore, where I had never been before, for 5 days of clinics and way too much food. On my list were chili crab, lakhsa, chicken rice and Singapore noodles, all of which lived up to their hype. A huge thank you to Janet and David Lye for hosting me, driving me around, being my tour guides, and organizing the pickleball in Singapore. There is no way I could have done it without them. I feel like I saw a lot of Singapore in the short few days I was there.

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Onto India. Wow, my impression and expectations about India changed drastically in the week that I visited. When I went almost 15 years ago, I was overwhelmed by the pollution, the heat, the mass of humanity all around me. Perhaps because I have seen more of the world and lived in other places, now it just seems like a developing country. Traffic is bad and there is poverty but it is growing and changing fast.

Speaking of growing, that’s what pickleball is doing rapidly in India and it’s exciting to see. Thanks to the dedication of Manish Rao, India has the largest population of pickleball players in all of Asia. I played with them in Mumbai and Jaipur, and their excitement about pickleball is obvious. Manish and Niraj (pictured below) showed me around some beautiful places in Rajastan in the Northwest including Uddaipur and Jaipur. We are also considering a pickleball trip to India sometime, please stay tuned.

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Finally to Kenya. I lived in Kenya for 2 years, where a majority of my posts on this blog were written. It had been 4 years since my last visit though. It was great to be back and meet with some of my best friends in the world. I also met new friends through pickleball, which tends to happen a lot. We played at Amani Gardens Inn and JD Tennis Academy, the latter of which is going to continue playing on a regular basis. I was also visiting potential locations for the Safari Pickleball Trip to Kenya, where we will play pickleball in Nairobi and go on Safaris around Kenya. It’s  going to be an awesome trip, please check it out on pickleballtrips.com in the near future!

36764633_10156484271778637_6684399976635695104_n.jpg36944813_10156493557683637_6804401337116131328_n.jpgThat’s all for now! I’m back in Japan and exhausted, looking forward for a couple of weeks at home to rest, hike and get some work done before the Fall tour season starts again.

A Few Updates

I set a goal for myself to write a blog post at least once a month this year. So here it goes

I spent the first three weeks of April traveling around Japan. First, I visited Kyoto to attend a friend’s wedding, which was beautiful. A traditional Shinto wedding, the bride and groom were in dressed in Japanese kimonos and the cherry blossoms were in their full glory. Plus going to Kyoto is always fantastic.

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After the wedding, I headed to Tokyo to start a tour all over Japan. The customers were great, the weather was amazing and it was good to be back on the trail.

After the Nakasendo, I visited Takayama, where a friend had asked me to volunteer at the annual Spring Festival. Each section of the city has its own ornately decorated festival float that is paraded through town. Flute playing, street food and tourists are in no short supply.

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I volunteered in a house recently renovated by an architectural design company. They use it for employee vacations but also open it up during events and donate the proceeds from selling drinks. I don’t know that much about architecture, but I can say that there is something uniquely appealing about the simplicity of Japanese design done well. It was also fun just doing something totally different from my everyday life.

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From Takayama, I began another Nakasendo walk, this time only 3 days. The nice thing about Spring in Japan is that different blossoms flower during different points of the season. This walk featured the multi-colored plum blossom and green starting to sprout everywhere.

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After this travel, I returned home, exhausted for some R&R, as well as planning for my upcoming tours. Namely, the Spring Japan Pickleball Trip! Jennifer Lucore, is coming along and it’s going to be a fantastic time. Please check out pickleballtrips.com for more information on future trips and camps. We have a lot of new trips coming in 2019!

Finally, I was involved last summer in filming a new series with Duke from Quick Pickle. The idea is to give students of pickleball in-depth lessons from pros, not just a short 5 minute video. If you’re interested, particularly in learning drop shots from me, please check out the website, quickpickle.com and click on my course, Drop Shot Domination. You can also click here, https://quickpickle.com/pages/courses.

I am sad to be missing this year’s US Open Pickleball Championships, which are happening now. I hope to make it next year but we shall see.