Life can be a maze with many dead ends, but McKay School alumnus Yoshihiko Ariizumi can turn dead ends into personal success. From professor to warehouse worker to chief technology officer of an engineering company, this alumnus has developed a performance-enhancement method that has altered his view on life and opened doors for personal and professional change.
Moving West to BYU
After completing undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Tokyo, Ariizumi moved west to BYU to earn a PhD from the Department of Instructional Psychology and Technology, which he finished in 1998. Based on his doctoral study, he developed a method of enhancing performance in many aspects of life: Chigen-iku, Japanese for "to serve God and fellow people better," includes five principles for powerful personal growth. In the tradition of Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Chigen-iku can promote professional and personal development, benefits that Ariizumi experienced in his own life.
Recalling how he developed this method as a student, Ariizumi refers to one particular professor from BYU who acted as a leader and mentor to him.
"I felt that I was really guided to come to BYU, the Lord’s institution, where I was kindly nurtured and inspired wonderfully by my mentors," Ariizumi said. "Professor Dillon Inouye, in particular, taught me in unbelievable ways. I learned far beyond the course work from him. He invited me to his one-on-one tutoring sessions through which I could learn deeply [about] continental philosophy, which was not a part of our curriculum."
Five Principles of the Chigen-iku Method
This method, in tandem with focusing on the will of God and serving others, is meant to help people accomplish anything from learning a new life-skill to getting a promotion at work. Here is a brief summary of the five steps.
1. Acknowledge your responsibilities and be accountable for your own actions. Do this while respecting and helping others around you.
2. Recognize local resources such as family members or neighbors. Some people feel that they have no support, forgetting to look at opportunities close to home. Develop social strategies for using human resources. Prayer opens up endless resources.
3. Life is richly chaotic: The chaos around us is not random but is meant to provide us with opportunities to learn and grow. God is purposeful in the challenges He gives us. Remember these five Ps when facing chaos: be positive, proactive, patient, peaceful, and panic-free! Always have an open heart and mind.
4. Small accomplishments can be considered success. Understand that it takes time to gradually achieve goals; be patient during this process. This cyclical process requires planning, action, and reflection to lift you up. While you are reflecting, take a break before making new plans and acting on them.
5. Many people tend to skip the reflection process; be sure to carefully record, review, and report what you have learned and accomplished. This will motivate continual progression.
The following account from Ariizumi describes a time of great difficulty and change in his life during which his education and findings helped him explore an entirely new career path.
"I taught at Lafayette College for 10 years and suddenly became unemployed. The family situation led me to begin a manual labor job in a local warehouse. I worked for that job with those who had minimal education. The company president did not believe that I, a PhD [holder], could continue to work among those people. However, I joyfully worked diligently, utilizing my method to improve every aspect of my job performance.
"Within a few months, the company president was impressed by my application of this method and assigned me to a different project in a totally unrelated field of expertise. I had been learning and teaching linguistics and education, but now I jumped into a completely new field: electrical engineering. Since I had already completed many successful projects based on my method, I had the confidence to master a new field of study rather quickly. Within a year or so, our engineering team made a very significant quality improvement, and I was assigned as the chief technology officer of the company."
Hopes for the Future
Simple introductions of Ariizumi’s findings have been compiled in his book Five Empowering Principles of Action Research That Lead to Successful Personal and Professional Development. He hopes to spread his method across the globe to help motivate people to try new things and be successful in everything they do.
"My dream is to spread this method to everyone, every child of God in the world," Ariizumi said. "I realized that we have a huge potential in us that can be cultivated if we do it in a correct way. Even an awkward person by nature, like myself, could master many interesting skills including sports and intellectual productivity."
After working with OptiXal in Philadelphia for several years, Ariizumi has recently moved back to Provo to be an adjunct faculty member at BYU. He hopes to transform the Japanese language program and increase the number of students who pass the most difficult proficiency test before they graduate to 50 percent; no other university has achieved this percentage.
In addition to working with BYU students, Ariizumi continues to consult with the engineering company in Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Shizuko, have two children and one granddaughter.