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Creative Career Path

A Zoom Lens for Your Life2010.05.26

    In the West, people tend to act based on the belief in progress, that you can do things now to positively affect your future, and that time itself progresses along a linear timeline. Asian cultures tend to favor a cyclical view of time, in which time repeats itself in seasons and cycles. The Asian approach to progress is growth and change on a revolving stage. Asian philosophies address how to find our flow within these cycles.


    The word Mandala comes from Sanskrit, meaning having or containing the essence. Though in many countries it has religious or mystical associations, in Japan it has actually been turned into a practical business tool, known as the Mandala Chart.


    The Japanese have long had a knack for combining utility and design, for merging the practical and the spiritual. Over thirty years ago, Matsumura Yasuo created the Mandala Business Day Planner, which uses a nine-squared Mandala format as a framework for putting your life into perspective, for organizing your time and energy, and gaining flexible focus on nearly anything your mind can grasp.


    The Mandala Chart™  has been popularized in Japan through bestselling books, the Mandala Business Day Planner, education and training, and through major business magazines such as PRESIDENT and Nikkei Business Associé.


    It works by placing a theme in the center, and seeing it in the context of the eight surrounding frames. The center is wherever you currently are in your life or business. You start by looking at the eight frames or fields of your life in balance: Health, Business, Finance, Home, Society, Personal, Study, and Leisure.


    Each field in turn can be seen in the same eight-way perspective, giving you 8 x 8, or 64 frames in which to apply your focus and take action. This enables you to operate with a flexible map of the entire pitch. As an organizing tool it produces extraordinary results through kaizen, the process of tracking and implementing continuous improvement.


    Itoh Motoshige, distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Tokyo, says that to understand economies today we need a flexible focus, the ability to shift appropriately from the bird's eye macro view, to the insect's eye micro view for detail, and to the fish's sensitivity to changes and trends. This is precisely the power of the Mandala Chart, which enables you to shift perspective and focus with ease.


    In February of 2008, the Mandala Chart Association was formed for the purpose of sharing the applications and tools of the Mandala Chart with a broader and global audience. Templates have been created to help seed your thoughts or organize information in preselected formats, and members also share innovative business and personal applications. We have also expanded the Mandala Chart beyond the paper-based format, to a digital format called the e-Mandala Chart.


    As one of the founding board members of the Mandala Chart Association, one of my roles is to make the Mandala Chart more accessible to the English speaking world. I was recently invited to start a new weekly column as a guest blogger on Active Garage, a platform for authors on project management, business strategy, entrepreneurship, leadership, and innovation. Flexible Focus is the theme of my column, and it will show how to master the Mandala Chart as an innovative thinking and planning tool, helping you achieve life/work balance with a flexible perspective. The first article in this series appeared in mid-May, and you can follow all links to new articles in the series online at


    You can keep up with the weekly installments by subscribing to the Active Garage blog, which will also give you updates from the leading edge in many fields. Download a PDF preview of what is to come in the Flexible Focus series at


    This will be the first time that this material has been introduced in English. I am pulling out all of the stops to introduce the practical applications of the Mandala Chart. Flexible Focus puts problems in a new perspective, and will give you a zoom lens for your life.


    William Reed






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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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