一か八か

One insight I gained on this trip – well, it was not really an insight, but it made me smile regardless – , was how at the end of the day regardless of where what colour our skin may be, which culture or country we live in or what language we speak, some behaviors are inherent to most human beings.

Das passt schon! or That’ll be alright (or for all the Aussies out there, She’ll be alright) are phrases I have used in the past to illustrate that moment when you have identified a potential problem, recognizable by that bad feeling you have in the pit of your stomach or the niggling voice in the back of your head – yet decide to ignore it and go for it.

Observing myself, I would suggest that this is a good point in time to take a moment to review whether you have not become fixed on a target, your plan A may not working as planned, so and now you are resorting to improvised, work-around solutions. Well, I say “you”, but in actual fact this is mechanism I am familiar with from my own experience: I have found declaring those phrases as a red flag that pops up in my mind, indicating a potential problem has helped me identify an issue before it developed into a full-blown, serious problem.

In the workshop in Azumino, with the help of Paul and Takashi, we established that the corresponding phrase in Japanese is  一か八か, or ichi ka bach ka, translating as from zero to infinity. When I used this phrase during the workshop it raised quite a strong response (well, for Japanese standards, at any rate). I am going to remember this one…

This small episode touched me because, as I wrote above, it shows how none of us are above counter-intuitive behavior and target fixation – as that is one of the things that makes us so very human. I suppose viewed through an evolutionary lens, this acceptance of a degree of risk, to chance it, has done us great services – but then again this all depends on what degree of failure or damage is acceptable as a result.

Be that as it may, for the time being I will carry on waving the red flag, 一か八か-stylee!