Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Betrayal: Denial or Acceptance & Apology - The Dilemma for Flyjin

Here's at typical conversation with a foreigner who tried to convince me - and anyone who will listen - that even though he ran away during the early days of the Fukushima incident, that he believes he did not shirk his duties when he ran away from Tokyo (as if it matters what I think). I think the assertion is absolutely absurd. I also can't believe that this person really thinks that way either.
I believe that this kind of justification and immature rationalization is pretty common. It is not the sign of good mental health and well-being and shows a person being unable to rectify their actions with the image of who & what they perceive themselves to be. 

The bottom line is that it is denial.
I won't name this person. Why should I? Since he is far from admitting his error, I will spare him public embarrassment. I gather that, from his mail - on a Sunday morning no less - that he is under pressure for his recent foolishness and might lose his job. Perhaps he should.
I would have fired him.  
This person actually has something like this on his online bio (I'm paraphrasing to protect his identity): "I work with corporate clients in preparing executive teams and training them on how to handle crisis preparation and the implementation of that preparation." 
What a laugh. He claims that he trains people for crisis management yet, he panicked and left? Now he is trying to spin and do damage control? 

This is completely a case of "Don't do what I do, do what I say."

I imagine that these sorts of people believe themselves to be responsible, logical adults. Their recent actions destroy that belief in their hearts - and they know it -  and they are desperately trying to convince everyone - in an effort to convince themselves - that it's all okay. They won't soon recover.
 Just like a drug addict must first admit that they have a problem before they can recover - these people will probably have to admit that they screwed up or panicked as they feared for their lives.
Here's what people must understand: You are all selfish assholes. I am a selfish asshole. We are all selfish assholes. Humans are selfish assholes. We do nothing in the spirit of altruism. Altruism does not exist. Nearly all compassionate and kind acts are related to self-interest. 
Realize that and accept it. Get off your cloud.
As I posted in Wakeup! Why I Don't Worry and You Shouldn't Either when describing the book "Awareness":
"They (most people) never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing we call the human existence. You know, all the mystics - Catholic, Christian, non-Christian, no matter what their theology, no matter what their religion - are unanimous on one thing: that all is well, all is well. Though everything is a mess, all is well. Strange paradox to be sure. But, tragically, most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare."
The book goes on to discuss the feelings of fear, hate, distrust, anger, love and addiction. It goes on to ask that the reader, whenever they are feeling these emotions, do an exercise and try to view themselves - and their life - from outside of their own bodies as if they were watching a movie.

When you watch a movie and see two people fighting and getting angry or emotional, you do not get so riled up and involved. It is, after all, just a movie. As a movie, then, you can observe with a detachment that is very beneficial to your spirit. But, when you do not detach, when you are one of the people who is doing the fighting, then you become attached and engulfed and emotions such as anger, hate and fear cloud your thinking.

I then made the point that staying calm and trying to view events from a different perspective is the first step towards calm and wise decision making:

Of course we must make calm and logical decisions on how to protect ourselves and make sure our loved ones are safe, right? Exactly! And that is the point of this essay. How can one make calm and level-headed decisions while being swallowed up by unfounded fears and panic?

The best decisions are the ones made in a cool and collected frame of mind; not when your animal and primitive fears kick in for a fight or flight response. I've always admired people who are wise, silent and calm. Think about that again, when do people make rash decisions? When they are emotional. Being in a state of agitated emotions is not conducive to making logical - nor wise - decisions.

Is there anyone who can argue this point?

You are a selfish jerk. So am I. So is everyone else. The difference? Some people are trying everyday to be mature enough (I hope I am) to admit it and are trying everyday to climb that mountain of truth to get closer to God: This guy who is trying to convince me that he did no wrong, on the other hand, is still trying to hold onto these false idols that he has identified himself with; A false idol that he has damaged or destroyed by his own actions.
You are not that respectable, responsible businessman you thought you were. When fear struck your heart, you ran like a small child.
Don't expect me to forgive you, even if I wanted to or even if I could. And why do you want me to forgive you? It doesn't matter what I think. It only matters what you think.
Your being comes from the innermost of your heart - not the act you do or the mask you wear at work everyday. 
The guy who, for some inexplicable reason, wants me to forgive me wrote:
"You know, Mike, you and I have been here about the same amount of time. I first came here in 1982 and started living here in 1987. Been here since. I my 25 years, I never left Japan during an earthquake or tsunami. But I chose to leave two days after the Fukishima quake. Sea water being dumped on overheating reactors, no transparency from TEPCO, reactive (vs. proactive) responses....I made my choice to leave for a couple weeks. What is wrong with that? I dislike grouping ALL people who left in the "panic" category. I did not panic. I used my mind and made the choice to leave. And lumping ALL journalists as sensationalist for reporting what was happening is nonsense."
I answered: 

Do you read or write Japanese? Did you get your news from NHK? Where do you get the idea that I lumped all journalists as sensationalist? That's simply not true. The problem: As an executive at your company, did you run away while expecting your Japanese staff to stay on and work? Or did you do the responsible thing and at least tell them to go home and care for their families? I suspect the former. You can try to convince me all you want of the rationality of your actions, I am not your judge. You need to convince your staff. How long have you been at your current position? 3 months? Excellent management shows leadership and risk management and assessment abilities. Did you?”
He skirted the questions and responded with: 
"This has nothing to do with one's employer, let alone one's skill set or even one's job. It is/was an individual choice based on many things including perceived safety and risk to one's health. End of story."
Once again, I gave him examples. I wrote: 
And about basic risk management and assessment in Fear, Rationality and Riskhttp://bit.ly/enk0RL  

And what a leader is in What is a Leader?http://bit.ly/dYbdrk  

If you do not fulfill these requirements, you should resign. But, maybe not... (Your company) has run away from Japan three times already... This just shows the quality of the company... And why should the company and her employees aspire to be better than their leaders? I'm not the one who needs to do the soul-searching here, my friend. ”

Again, his response fails to address the issues and blows smoke: 
"You are certainly talking a lot of risks with things you do not know, Mike. I would love to come on your radio show and have a chat....."
Now he is kissing my a*s. I wrote: 

"Please! Let's tell the truth. You made no judgements on risk. How could you have? You panicked! How many people died at Three Mile Island? Zero. On the morning of Monday the 14th, Fukushima was still listed as a level 4 crisis. Three Mile was level 5 and the Japanese system for safety level of radiation is almost 30% lower than what is used in the west. Admit it to yourself that you did zero research to get facts. Three Mile Island was evacuated for 10 miles around that plant. Fukushima was 18 miles! And we in Tokyo are upwind 150 miles from Fukushima! 

Dealing with people using facts and logic is unfair when they are dealing with emotions, I know. Finally, since he realized he couldn't get sympathy or favor from me (why does he need that anyway?) He wrote:
"Good-bye, Mike..."
What a useless wimp. Here, by the way, is a Talking Points Memo article that contradicts his timeline. I guess it's not so hard to contradict the memory of someone in a panic. Panic, as we have seen over and over, does not lead to good decisions. Just as great ideas when you are high or stoned are usually not great ideas the next day when you are sober.
Ultimately, that these people continually go on public forums and try to defend their actions is proof that they know in their hearts that they failed us, Japan and themselves. Think about it: When someone fails or betrays you; when they run away from you without talking to you first; do you accept an apology from them on a public forum, or do you wish for them to come see you and look you straight into the eyes and apologize and show some sincerity and try to make amends?
Who doesn't expect those who have transgressed to do the difficult part and apologize in person? No self-respecting person would accept anything less, either.
No mature adult would think they could get away with anything less.
Ultimately, those who ran away can turn this into a positive growing experience and admit they were wrong or they can continue with their immaturity and try to hide their shame. Which do you think is psychologically healthier? It is obvious that this guy, since he is easily over 50, will not take the spiritual growth route.

One would have hoped he had done that in High School.

Here is some excellent commentary from Linkedin from a guy named David K. who is an executive in Japan:

I am a believer that people should be evaluated for their 360 degree leadership credentials, not fired upon them. However, should they disappear when a crisis arises, I don't believe they should be in the leadership function as their actions affect not only their families, but also the families of all staff they are managing. (emphasis mine)

It is my firm belief that some of the best Japanese and ex-pat managers in all industries are here, right now, rebuilding. Some great expat managers who left during the height of the crisis have taken their families back home and already returned. As long as the latter managers communicated well with their staff, they will re-integrate well with the organization.

Many companies with a blend of Japanese and international staff who have kept their entire management structure in place throughout this ordeal will prosper heavily. Those with dismantled and non-trusting structures will suffer quite heavily as they unknowingly put the wrong people into positions of leadership. Now they know. It's not a question of how perfect a candidates credentials are when you hire him/her that matters, it's much more a question of how thorough your candidate vetting process is that determines whether your organization deserves to sink or swim when a true crisis hits. We're seeing this now and we'll see it many more times before retirement finally kicks in.
I completely agree.


Dave said...

The bio headline cited here is searchable; it brings the gentleman in question to the top of a Google search...

mike in tokyo rogers said...

Thanks for the heads up Dave. This post is not to shoot this guy down. It is to (hopefully) help us all to learn something about Japan, ourselves and human nature.
I do appreciate the quick notice. Quote completely altered but meaning not changed. Thanks my friend.

Anonymous said...

Typical jerk full of himself and acting like he is a professional and "more holy than thou" There's too many of them in the world.

This guy "who teaches" is full of it. What a joke!

Dave said...

You're welcome. I didn't want to see our mutual friend unwittingly revealed.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

From one of the "Mike's"

As usual, a ripper-read, Mike. Passion + Punch ! The Fly-jin/Flee-jin/F-Off-jin moniker - given their basic underlying panic-reaction as with SARS, WMD etc - might give rise to another term-of-endearment ... "Avian Flew" ??

Starting to see the corporate spin-doctors attempting to create some sort of face-saving response to explain their David Copperfield ompersonations. Lame (and false) rationale is the next tsunami ... "SARS-jin" (Spin A Reasonable Scenario).

Anonymous said...

It astounds me that there are still, to this day, foreigners who are trying to defend this position. Incredible.

Who said that Japan is a "country of 12 year olds" should have also mentioned that America is full of 11 year olds too.

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