Emi is a good friend of mine even back in my uni days.
I remember she told me once that she had always dreamt of owning a cozy coffee shop in downtown Osaka with lines and lines of people stretching around the block. When we graduated we all took jobs because, well, that’s how you start out in Japan.
I joined an IT firm in Tokyo while she joined a marketing division in an old traditional Japanese company (also in Tokyo), doing promotional stuff and representing her company in its international dealings. Sometimes we get together and tell each other how things are. She was happy and enjoying her work. She said she was saving most of her money for the coffee shop.
A few years later tragedy struck. Emi’s mother had a stroke. Thankfully, her mother recovered but thereafter someone needed to look after her. There was no father, she and her younger brother were raised by their mom single-handedly. Her brother was living abroad at that time. After some time thinking things through, she decided to quit her job in Tokyo and go back to her sleepy hometown in Kyoto to care for her mother.
You might think her dreams of owning a coffee shop just went down the toilet. No, after her mother recovered, Emi converted a part of their house into a little kiosk serving coffee to anybody who passed by.
Their house is located in a less-traveled part of the town in Kyoto, but instead of feeling discouraged, Emi decided to make the best of her humble setup. A marketing pro as she was, Emi began listening to her customers (however few they are), crafting new and unique blends of coffee, and creating an atmosphere of warmth and community right there at her small kiosk.
Over time, words spread. Her regulars brought friends, who brought more friends. Emi’s dream of a full pledge coffee shop did materialize years later. Now, not only does she own a coffee shop, but her shop also serves craft beers to thirsty passersby.
The last time I saw her, Emi was all smiles. Looking back, she said to me her happiest times were at that tiny kiosk, where she brewed every cup with love, dreams, and caring for her wonderful mother.
You are where you’re supposed to be right now
Wherever you are right now, it’s where you’re supposed to be.
Make the best out of your situation. Don’t feel bad about your circumstance — even if it’s not your ideal state. Well, you can feel sad about it, but after some time you’ll realize that there’s no other way but to just deal with it, just like what Emi did.
Emi turned a tragedy in her life into a success story of patience and humble beginnings. These things are never easy. It takes years and years, but it would take not only time but hard work and perseverance.
Emi’s success story seemed easy in hindsight, but you didn’t see her fail countless times. You didn’t see her cry her eyes out, hopeless and confused when she started her life back in Kyoto.
But even when she had her cries at night, every morning she put on her apron, put on her best smile, and showed up for any customers who came by her little outfit.
A friend of mine at Twitter (X), Takezo, wrote this tweet the other day:
When you climb a mountain you wouldn’t think about being at the top all day. You put one foot in front of the other and watch out for slippery slopes.
Apply the same to your work. Have the end goal in mind but instead of thinking about it all day, take care of what needs to be done today. Everything will fall into place.
— Takezo, Sword of Clarity
You see, it might be hard, but to make the best out of every situation, think about what needs to be done today and try to do it with all the love, dedication, and care you can muster.
That’s where tiny drops of happiness come from. And with genuine happiness comes genuine success. They build up until they burst through, overflowing inside you.
I tell you my friend, you are where you’re supposed to be right now. So gather your heart, take what you have right now, and use it to start moving things forward.
Something to think about
Let’s close this article with three quotes to give you something to reflect on:
On making the best out of your situation:
“Bloom where you are planted.”
— Saint Francis de Sales
With regards to starting small:
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” — Zechariah 4:10
On being humble:
“Being humble means recognizing that we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.” — Gordon B. Hinckley
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