People in Iowa #1: Dennis
I'll be leaving the U.S. this March. During my time in the U.S. I lived in Des Moines, Iowa. Thanks to the many people I met and became friends with I was able to gain a new perspective.
As I prepared to leave I thought, "What can I do here before I go?", I decided I would like to expand upon this experience and examine the sense of values that influenced me so I decided to begin interviewing those I met as “People in Iowa”.
My first interview was with Dennis. He is a founder of "Park Yoga", which is a yoga event that 200〜300 people participate in every week, and "Meditation Around Town" which is a meditation event with more than 1000 people registered in the Meetup group.
I met him at a coffee shop soon after I came to Iowa.
Through our friendship I was able to become an ambassador of an international organization of Iowa, Meeting people through this group, I began making friends. Dennis always welcomed me with a brilliant smile and welcoming humor.
Considering his experience in project management both in the business world and his off time, I interviewed him about leadership and how to clear one’s mind with meditation.
I went to the University of South Dakota and got my degree in Business.
One week after I graduated, I went to work for John Deere and have worked there for 40 years.
That's unusual, especially today.
I experienced various departments such as insurance, sales, marketing for finance, and worked as leader for many projects.
Once I worked in the Southern United States which was also a wonderful experience for me because there is more diversity.
Q. What is the most important characteristic of a leader?
To be openminded.
As we don't know where the best idea will come from, a leader should allow everyone to show their creativity and interests.
Q. How do you ensure you are openminded with people you are meeting for the first time?
The key is to know the inside of your mind.
We tend to feel fear about the things we can't understand or we have never experienced.
If we recognize our fear and anxiety in advance, we can get over them and accept other people with an open mind.
Q. What steps do you take to know the inside of your mind?
Meditation. It's a journey to inside our mind.
If we look outward too much, it becomes difficult to keep our peace.
If we have time to look inside our mind, we can see the world differently, with an open mind.
Q. What inspired you to start meditation?
When I was a sophomore, I found a poster about meditation.
Although I didn't know it, I searched for something to relieve my stress.
I joined a meeting about meditation, and then, started learning about Yoga and Reiki, too.
Each practice expanded my mind.
Q. Recently, meditation and yoga have become more popular. Why?
Our current society is "Go!Go!Go!" and filled with stimulation.
Children also like stimulation such as video games and I-pads, and they are sometimes addicted to food or media.
Meditation gives us the opportunities to shut off those kinds of stimuli and calm our mind.
Also, people realized that a lot of diseases are caused by stress.
These are the reasons why they became more popular.
I experienced Park Yoga in Chicago, and I felt like starting similar events in Iowa, too.
I visited some friends and a person in charge of park recreation, and decided to start "Park Yoga" in Iowa.
Although there were 20-30 participants at first, recently we have had about 300 participants.
As I saw yoga being accepted and loved by many people, I decided to start a meditation event.
I started "Meditation Around Town" in Meetup, and now more than 1000 people are registered to the group.
Of course, not all of them join our events.
But it means a lot to send E-mails about our events to more than 1000 people every month.
Q. Weren’t you afraid to start new projects?
Of course, I felt fear.
Every time I felt fear, I saw inside my fear and anxiety through meditation.
Gradually, I came to think "The only thing I need to do is show my vision. It doesn't matter if other people recognize it."
We each have a belief system.
As our belief systems come from our experiences, it's natural to have different ones.
Therefore, it's no problem if someone doesn't agree with my suggestion.
Q. How did you build relationships with people to start and continue projects?
One of my responsibilities in my former company was to build good relationships with coworkers and customers. Learning from experience with my company helped me a lot in starting yoga and meditation projects.
Now, my former customers sometimes give me opportunities to do meditation workshops at their companies.
My company work and lifework have good effects on each other.
Q. What book influenced you the most?
"Autobiography of a Yogi" written by Paramahansa Yogananda.
It's an autobiography written by a yogi who came from India to the U.S.
Reading his book, I realized that there was a person who proceeded the similarly before me.
He came to the U.S. to broaden yoga.
I was influenced by his leadership when I read his story that he made efforts to seek relief even in situations where yoga wasn't known by anyone.
Q. What's your motto?
When I look back on my entire life, there was nothing I want to pull out.
Including sadness and suffering, everything was perfect for me.
Of course, I wasn't able to think like that when I was in my 40's.
But, I can understand the meaning of what occurred in my life now.
So, everything is perfect.
Even small conversations trigger wonderful things.
That's the magic and mystery of life.
I'm always looking for miracles and magic.
Q. Could you give some advice to people in their 30's?
"Just be yourself!"
The most important thing is just being yourself.
If you pretend to be someone, people will become aware of that soon.
If you have something you can't agree with your supervisor or family about, please don't sacrifice yourself.
Not being upset nor impatient, try to express your opinion with a warm and friendly attitude.
After that, new ways will appear in front of you.
You will feel fear because you can't know the consequences.
But, seeing something from a different view, isn't it exciting?
I always start my day, feeling “What will happen today?"
Let's get excited about unknown things.