How Business Leaders Deal With Criticism
Mirai heno Rashinban No. 270


Ryuho Okawa

Founder and CEO of Happy Science. Born on July 7, 1956 (Showa 31) in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan. After graduating from law school at the University of Tokyo, he joined an international trading company in New York. While working at the New York headquarters, he studied international finance at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He attained Great Enlightenment in 1981 and awakened to the hidden part of his consciousness, El Cantare, whose mission is to bring salvation to all of humanity. In 1986, he established Happy Science. Happy Science has spread to over 100 countries, more than 700 local temples or Shojas and 10,000 local branches. Master Okawa has given over 2,900 lectures (of which 130 are English lectures) and he has published more than 2,500 books (over 500 of them are public spiritual messages) translated Into 31 languages. Many of them have become bestsellers including The Laws of the Sun. Furthermore, he has directed over 18 movies including “Hikari au Inochi – Kokoro ni Yorisou 2 – ” (literally, “Our Lives Shine Together – Heart to Heart 2 –,”(Documentary, August 2019 release), “Immortal Hero” (Live Action, October 2019 release), “Shinrei Kissa EXTRA no Himitsu – The Real Exorcist – ” (literally, “The Secret of Spirits’ Café EXTRA – The Real Exorcist –,” (Live Action, 2020 release) and written over 100 songs and lyrics for movie soundtracks. Master Okawa established Happy Science University and Happy Science Academy (Jr. and Sr. boarding high school), a political party called the Happiness Realization Party, HS Politics and Economics Cram School and IRH Press. He serves as Chairman of New Star Production and ARI Production.

Ryuho Okawa Official Website


The Question:

Please advise us how young business leaders and managers can work with those who criticize them and how we can increase our capacity to accept criticism.

May 26, 2017 Happy Science General Headquarters
Taken from the Q&A portion of “Management Laws to Move People”


I believe that anyone who is aiming to become a business leader must have some kind of a dream. The weighing factor is how much you can trust your dream.

It’s important to strongly wish, “I have this dream and I’m going to make it a reality”; from there, you must believe in yourself to make the dream come true. How do you expect people to believe you if you cannot believe yourself?

It is difficult if you don’t have self-trust to make efforts to realize your dream. If your dream is necessary in advancing or bettering our society, partners and cooperative people will appear.

You must begin with a firm affirmation of your ideals or dreams. Once you do, your dream will translate into an aura that attracts people.

Our group began with the support of many people who left their full-time jobs for Happy Science. I believe they took great risks to quit their jobs and come to Happy Science. While not everyone stayed, the sincerity of my vision and strong, passionate content resulted in a greater attraction of people.

If I have higher ideals, people will think, “we have to stay because we are to make it a reality” and work harder. On the other hand, if a leader didn’t care about his or her ideals, no one would work for them.


Be Cautious With Those Around You

As you can see, it’s important to straighten up your collar. People, especially those closest to you, are watching carefully. It’s easy to lower your guard to those close to you, but be cautious if you do so.

Imagine Mt. Fuji — it is beautiful from afar. I’m not sure if it’s the world’s no. 1 or Japan’s no. 1, but a snow-covered Mt. Fuji is certainly beautiful from afar. Go closer and climb it in the summertime, however, and you can see how it is covered with trash and rocks. It’s not pretty at all. It’s only pretty from a distance.

This goes for the CEO of a company. People may think, “How inspiring and admirable” from a distance, but that isn’t the case as you get closer.

People surrounding you watch you closely. If those people think you are “not serious” or “not believing in dreams or ideals,” the feeling won’t transfer over to them. This kind of message will rarely motivate or inspire people.

For over 30 years, I have been thinking about being cautious of those around you. They are very, very, very “scary.” They see your faces on both the surface and hidden side; they take note if you’re slacking or resting.

Nothing is more fearful than those close to you who are always smiling or providing you great service. You never know what they think of you when you’re out of sight. It’s usually the case. No one wants to climb Mt. Fuji if people bash on it as a mountain of rubbish.


Cases Where People Are Bashed for Confusing Business and Personal Life

In the case of a small-sized company you must be hard on yourself because employees can see everything about their CEO. It’s obviously more common to intermingle business and personal life in small and mid-tier firms. The less the better, but it’s inevitable to mix your business life with your private life.

Speaking on a governmental level, the Prime Minister has been criticized for using tax money to build a school and “help out a friend.”

In the U.S., President Trump’s daughter Ivanka is talented and brilliant. Her husband is likewise, and they are key people in the White House even though they are just in their late 30s. But from the outside, people think that “they never elected President Trump’s daughter and her husband.”

Ivanka said that she was used to being praised while working with her brand before being involved in politics—she did academically and professionally well, and despite her tough work life, she was praised for going back to work just one week after giving birth to her child. Now, all of a sudden, she gets bashed constantly for being a presidential aide.

Even though she went back to work one week after giving birth, her previous co-workers began spreading rumors that it was a toxic company that didn’t allow maternity leave. People who praised her in the past have been backstabbing her. If she wears fashionable clothes, people see her as “spoiled and extravagant.”

Public and personal lives exist even for presidents and prime ministers. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife gained popularity at one point for saying opposite things to her husband. Once you cross a certain line, people start thinking that she is “acting on behalf of the prime minister.” It’s the same as debating about whether the self-defense forces are part of the army or not. You will be attacked if you play around with words and argue over “public or personal life.”

Take a look at the Moritomo Gakuen scandal. Abe’s supporter revealed his close relationship with Abe after he was betrayed to protect the prime minister’s reputation.

This case is evident that people who you thought were loyal and knew everything about you can come back to backstab you.

It’s important to constantly observe yourself from a third-person’s point of view and know how others view you. There are times when you want people around you even while relaxing or taking a rest; it’s extremely tiring to put up your guard 24/7. You must interact with them given you’re being observed.

If a business leader is on their “off day” with their friends or family, people close to them can tell if they are thinking about the future of their business even though it is an “off day.”


How to Lend an Ear for Advice

Another thing to consider is “when to lend an ear for advice.” In other words, bonds of relationships depend on how you organize incoming opinions and advice.

I read Konosuke Matsushita’s books in my younger years. Mr. Matsushita wrote a lot on lending an ear for advice so I did the same. However, as I listened to many people’s opinions, on several occasions I’ve gotten more confused.

People have different opinions. Thus, back then when I didn’t have experience I got confused which opinion to select. That’s no longer the case.

For a while, I disagreed with Mr. Matsushita. Once I reached a certain age, however, I was able to select and disregard different opinions based on their relevance. I suppose listening to differing opinions requires an ability.

For young business leaders, there’s a tendency to get into arguments and fire their employees—the employees think their leader is arrogant and talk back while their leader gets easily flustered from differing opinions. Efforts in this area must be made.

You must be “seasoned” as a person. The more intelligent you are, the less people may understand. It must be frustrating, but a person of great ambition must not get flustered over small things.

Important matters must be directly addressed. For irrelevant or small matters, it’s wrong to get mad over differences.

Even though I teach the “importance of tolerating differing values and personalities,” it’s hard to practice it in real life.


Building Your Capacity as a Business Leader

It may be difficult to accept opposing views at work, but please consider the matter from a business leader’s perspective. There are various opinions floating around that won’t be taken into account — with that said, you should give people the benefit of the doubt so people will give you hints in the future.

Meanwhile, people who are working under someone may receive praise and become conceited. You must not be bloated with pride and ego if you receive praise from a senior.

Please don’t feel defeated if you’re scolded by your senior. If you’re management material at a young age, you must not feel overly confident or be defeated easily.

This is common for egotistic people and must be overcome. If you can “self-adjust,” you will develop a big heart that can take in people.

The major causes of low work productivity include negative relationships and not managing people well. A large employee base is meaningless if you can’t use it efficiently. There are cases where employees rot because they aren’t placed in the right department or given fitting tasks. I’ll appreciate it if you use this as a reference.

How Business Leaders Deal With Criticism
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