“We may change our goals and priorities in life, but having them is the first step for a wonderful and heath life with less regrets.” – Seiji Isotani

In the afternoon of the second day in India, we had the pleasure to listen a talk from Mr. Shuichi Ohno, the executive director in charge of international programs at the Nippon Foundation. Let my say first that it was a brilliant talk. And I’m not saying that because, I’m a Nippon Foundation Scholar. I truly think what Mr. Ohno showed to us on his presentation can change how we deal with many things in our lives (even if such lesson was not the goal when he gave the talk – maybe a kind of unintended subliminal message).


Mr. Ohno initiates his presentation with a very funny sentence: “My name is easy to remember Oh! No! … but that is not good, then please remember me as Mr. Oh! Yes!”. Everybody laugh. With all in the room in a good mood Mr. Ohno (Oh!Yes!) presented where the money of Nippon Foundation comes from and in what kind of programs do they spend money currently. It was very interesting to know the main source of Nippon Foundation’s income which helps me to achieve my dreams and support many other people to achieve their dreams. If you want to know more about it please visit here.


One of the most interesting parts of this talk was when Mr. Ohno showed a slide with the “seven Commandments” that drive/guide Nippon Foundation and its projects:

  1. Deal with issues in depth and in detail in accordance with priorities rather than trying to tackle all issues comprehensively.
  2. Attempt to create new projects and ideas without being bound by precedents.
  3. Act promptly without being afraid of failure.
  4. Be open and transparent to society.
  5. Never forget to evaluate yourself and educate yourself constantly.
  6. Discover signs of new changes and cope with them.
  7. Develop good human networks, worldwide.


If you don’t get why I think these commandments are very important let me explain each one of them from my perspective.


The first one: “deal with issues in dept and in detail in accordance with priorities rather than trying to tackle all issues“. Well, the more things we learn, the more we known that we don’t know enough. Thus, my interpretation of the first commandments is: if we want to solve difficult problems we shouldn’t try to understand a little of everything, we cannot be superficial; we need to be more focused, setting priorities on issues that matters and truly understanding them. Only going deep and being meticulous we can find solutions to solve difficult problems. Of course, never forget the context (the whole) and the relationship between different issues that may have relations with the problems being addressed. In life, we deal with many difficult problems/decisions and having a set of priorities and goals in mind help us to think deep and choose good ways to solve these difficulties. We may change our goals and priorities in life, but having them is the first step for a wonderful and heath life with less regrets.


The second commandment: “create new projects and ideas without being bound by precedents”. Frequently, we act as followers. I think because it is easy, or sometimes we like to go with the flow (at least I like sometimes). But, to produce new ideas and projects that may have the potential to help many people we must “think outside the box”. Don’t let previous ideas or precedents intervene or restrict your thoughts. Always use previous experiences and knowledge of others to create original ideas. Only in that way we will be able to create a better society. Only being creative we will be able to solve global warming, climate change, poverty, racism, wars, and others problems of the society. So, let’s try to play a role of leadership. We are all leaders, any person is a leader, we just need to practice that role more often and make changes instead of just following them.


Mr. Ohno gave a very good example of thinking outside the box to solve medical problems in Mongolia. There, people are constantly moving from one site to another (nomadic people) and medical care is not close to where people live. Thus, many people died because of fever or diarrhea that could be easily treated. Thus, creative people decided to create a medicine kit which consists of box with many traditional medicines inside of it. Each family could have a box and they only pay for the medicines if they use them. Such a great idea helps to dramatic decrease medical problems in this country. This is just an example of how a innovative approach can have good impact in the society.


The third commandment: “Act promptly without being afraid of failure”. If you have a good idea, you believe in it, so it up to you to do something and make your idea come true. I have a similar way of thinking, I prefer to regret of things I have done than regret of things I could have done. Many times I make mistakes, because I do things that I believed to be correct, but in fact were incorrect; especially when dealing with people. In these cases asking for apologies is also a virtue, and I still need to work on that . To have an understanding of my mistakes is the way I found to grow as a person. So, try to be a good person, and do actions if you think you are doing the right thing. Your actions might improve the life of many people.


The forth commandment: “Be open and transparent to society”. Don’t lie, don’t hide and be loyal to your beliefs, friends, family, anyone. If we have good intentions and we believe that doing some actions can help us to achieve our goals without harm other people, then there is no need to hide anything.


The fifth commandment: “Never forget to evaluate yourself and educate yourself constantly”. That is one of the most important commandments: self-evaluation and self-education. We need to know when we are doing the right thing to keep doing it; we need to know when we are going to the right direction to keep following it; and more important, if we know we are not doing the right thing or not going to the right direction, we must have wisdom to learn from our mistakes and change the course of our actions.


The sixth commandment: “Discover signs of new changes and cope with them”. In life, everything is changing including us. So, we must be flexible enough to understand the changes that surround us. If we understand why these changes are happening we don’t need to fight against them we can make inner changes to bring good outer changes and live a more happy life.


Finally the seventh commandment: “Develop good human networks, worldwide”. Citing Al gore the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2007: “if you want to go quickly, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together”. To go far, we must have good human network. If your dream is like mine which transcend the barriers of individuality (I want to make a better tomorrow to all by supporting education) then you need as many people together with you as possible. Only in that way we will be able to achieve that dream. And I think Nippon Foundation is helping many people to achieve their dreams by creating such a wonderful network of people.


Mr. Ohno also talks a lot about other projects and many other interesting topics related to the foundation and its impact in the society. I really felt that he was trying to make his best to make people understand the goals of Nippon Foundation and approach people he believes to have the potential for helping Nippon Foundation to accomplish its mission.


In conclusion, I’m really happy that I had the opportunity to participate of BABA retreat and hear Mr. Ohno. I think the thoughts I wrote here will stay with me forever. I hope you (the reader of this blog) liked them too.


If you have something to add, please comment on this post.