Taking a break in nature

The Nature Park (Institute for Nature Study) is one of my favorite havens in Tokyo, 20 hectares of lush forest in the middle of the metropolis. Once the site for the home of a feudal lord, the park has 600 years of history and is the perfect oasis to find a quiet moment for the twins (meditation and relaxation) amidst the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. The Nature Park affords me a convenient break from daily work. It inspired me to pen a haiku:

Mesmerizing mauve accent/nascent song of bush warblers/in timeless rhythm

Spring is coming and the Nature Park will be resplendent with cherry blossoms!

Although totally different, I like this park in Minato Ward as much as the Tokugawa-sponsored Koishikawa Korakuen Garden in Bunkyo Ward, where I once resided. At the far end of the Nature Park, the skyscrapers of Ebisu can be seen, including the building where Morgan Stanley investment bankers and traders hang out in Yebisu Garden Place. Other than that cityscape, the Nature Park provides a complete respite.

And the best news is that the forest is fewer than 5 minutes from my office in Shinagawa Ward.

Whether or not you are pursuing MBA studies, it’s important to take breaks from work, in order to manage stress. You don’t have to be a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health to know that stress is a causal factor in physical disease or that overwork can lead to and often results in burnout, even death.

For most of us work is the focus of our daily existence. Add up the hours spent at work, the hours spent preparing for it, and the hours spent thinking about it or unwinding from it, and you have totaled most of the hours in a day that we are not sleeping. But all work (and no play) make Jack a dull boy, as the hackneyed proverb goes. It is counter-productive. These are challenging times in which people are working harder and harder, but doing nothing but working day in and day out is self-defeating.

Admissions officers suggest that the most attractive candidates demonstrate work-life balance.

You may comment that the work just piles up without an end in sight, so that you have to stay at the office in night after night of “all-nighters.” If this  is your situation, ask yourself seriously whether all of the work you are doing is really such urgent priority.

Leadership comes in many forms and shapes. You can exercise personal leadership in your organization to analyze the work flow and propose ways to streamline the process, eliminating redundant or unnecessary work. Several of my clients have taken this lead. Their initiative contributed to their organization, and freed them up for more time spent with their families and in leisure activities.

If you are working 24/7 continuously and feel stressed out, take a moment to assess your time management. I have written an earlier blog article addressing this subject and suggesting ways to improve time management: http://bit.ly/h7DV3n .

In future articles I will write about ways to become involved in your community, defined not simply as your neighborhood but rather to include the constellation of groups outside of your work organization, or simply put, society at large.

In the meantime, please be my guest. Come take a 30-minute stroll through the Nature Forest. When you exit it, you will feel as if you made a day trip outside of Tokyo.

Institute for Nature Study

5-21-5, Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0071

500 meters approx. from the East Exit of Meguro Station, JR Yamanote Line

All the best,

Warren J. Devalier

©2011 Warren J. Devalier