Hope invites | Tsutomu Uematsu | TEDxSapporo

Translator: Ayana Ishiyama
Reviewer: Shimajiri Michiaki Well, so everyone.
Once again, good afternoon. (Audience) Good afternoon! Now I’m relaxed. Please bear with me
while I tell you my story. It is a story about “hope invites.” My mother told me the phrase
when I was a junior high school student. That means, if you are hoping for it,
it will come true. It’s important not to lose hope. It would be wonderful if I could
make friends by giving this talk. I hope we become friends. I was born 47 years ago. My name is Tsutomu Uematsu. In a town named Akabira
in the middle of Hokkaido, I am running a company
for the very first time in my life. And in fact, while we make electromagnets
for recycling, we also make rockets. We can do space engineering. We now have skills to build
and launch a complete rocket and even launch a complete satellite too. We have an experimental device, only four like this in the world,
and one of them is in Japan. It can create zero gravity condition,
which is the same situation as in space. We couldn’t buy it anywhere,
because nobody was selling it, so we managed to develop it by ourselves. However, for me,
space engineering is not my dream. To me, it is a mere means. I was born 47 years ago. My grandma told me an important thing
when I was a child. On the island of Sakhalin,
which is located in the north of Hokkaido, she began a car company, worked hard,
and saved money for a long time. I heard she lived a rich life there. But in 1945, Soviet troops
suddenly attacked Sakhalin. A lot of people were killed. My grandma realized that it turned her money
into heaps of worthless paper. So she told the little me, “Money is ridiculous,
because its value will change. If you have money,
do not save it, but buy books. Remember everything you read. Nobody can take it away from you, and it will make something new.” So I became a boy who loved bookstores. I also had grandpa who I really loved. My grandpa was big and gentle. My fondest memory with him
is the Apollo moon landing. I was watching it on TV with him. I remember his happy face,
which I had never seen. “Have a look. Have a look. People reached the Moon. You can do it, too.” I had never seen him so delighted. I wanted to see his smile again. So when I’d go to a bookstore, I would always pick books
about airplanes and rockets. Then every time grandpa
would pat my head with his big hand and praise me. I think I might have gotten
into airplanes and rockets because I wanted
to see his smile again. After that, I encountered
various wonderful books. In junior high school, I started to dream of having a job
related to airplanes and rockets. I was studying hard in my own way. However, my teacher told me, “Stop talking about that imaginary stuff
and study for the test.” In fact, I studied about
airplanes and rockets willingly, but I neglected my schoolwork. I was doing nothing for it. Moreover, he said to me, “To begin with,
things like space engineering are impossible unless
you are really smart. It is very costly. So it’s a different world. You can’t do it.” I got really sad. Then I started asking myself, “What is a dream?” Are we only allowed to dream
of what we can likely accomplish? However, I wondered, who decides whether we can do it or not? Even though no one knows that
unless we try, strangely, people who have never tried
make the judgment. Should we pursue
what we cannot do now, as a dream? I decided we should. But somehow, they didn’t agree. Many grown-ups scared me, like “If you don’t study hard, you won’t be able to enter
a good school and career path. It’s going to be tough for you!” I wasn’t doing very well at school. So I became worried and asked them, “What is a good company to work for?” Then adults told me that a stable company where we can work to get money without difficulty
is a good company. I was confused. The more we study,
the more we will grow in capability. However, I was told that I had to study not in order to use these new skills
as much as possible, but to work without difficulty. So I thought,
“I don’t have to study, do I?” But if we have money,
many good things might come around. For example… (Laughter) This awesome car! (Applause) It’s not mine. This is someone else’s car. (Laughter) Can we get this car because we are rich? No, it’s not true at all, right? We can get this car by paying money because someone worked hard to create it. The truth is,
it’s because there are people who do research, make an effort
to make a better one, and sell it to you,
you can just simply buy it. In fact, money is not special. A dream that requires money or a dream that is impossible
without money is, in fact, nothing but a service
that someone offers to you. That’s what you’d be dreaming of. And the more we can’t
accomplish something on our own, the more we will need to have
someone accomplish it for us. So you’ll need
more and more money to live. But suppose you can manage it, the more things you can manage, the more you can help someone. So it can be your job. Maybe the important thing
for us to live for is finally being able to do
what we couldn’t do before. It might be something wonderful for us. I believe that what dreams are about is pursuing what we cannot do now. I was determined
to pursue my favorite things. However, nobody around me understood me, like my friends, teachers,
and even my parents. They said to me, “Are you really sure
about doing that stuff?” “It is meaningless, isn’t it?” “Are you just trying to show off?” I became lonely. I was not able to share
my favorite things with others. However, I had those who supported me. They were in books. They were the Wright brothers
and Edison. Just like me, nobody could
understand them either, and no one even supported them. However, they kept on
doing their very best. It was such great men that saved me. That’s why I would not give up. I came to like my favorite things more, and developed my abilities more. I was good at cutting paper. I developed the skill
and made much more things. And then I set up my company
to make electromagnets for recycling. So, somehow I had to run a company. It was my first time doing that,
but it was surprisingly successful. (Laughter) (Applause) Our annual sales increased almost tenfold. I became conceited
and it became a huge failure. (Laughter) I got into 200 million yen of debt. I thought it was all my fault. I thought I had to manage
everything by myself. I took on worries alone. I blamed myself. After that, I did walk-in sales
throughout Japan and only got terrible experiences. So every time I took an airplane, I devoutly prayed
that the plane would crash. But the planes never crashed. Eventually, I became a man
who could be nasty and cruel. I could defeat and trick rivals. However, I never thought
about what their families were like. When our sales began increasing,
a bank clerk praised me. However, my thinking was totally off, so I couldn’t trust anybody. I was alone. I could see everything
only from a logical point of view. In the end, I even thought that I would throw away
all of what was dear to me. But at that time, because my company
was in a difficult situation, a variety of people all over Japan
gave me advice. “You might want to join
Junior Chamber International. It will increase your profit.” So with evil intent, I joined JCI. (Laughter) But it didn’t translate into any profit. (Laughter) However, I got an opportunity
to meet new, amazing people there. I made friends. One of them asked me
to work at a foster home as a volunteer. Even though we prepared
in earnest for going there, it turned out that the children there were those who had been abused
by their parents. No one came close to us at first. However, after we tried
to get along with the kids, when we were leaving,
they said, “Don’t go.” They wanted to talk with us more. When I was about to leave with my friend, talking about things like,
“We did something good, right? Where are we going to drink?,” one boy told me his dream. It was to live with his parents again. I couldn’t believe it. I wondered why he still loved his parents,
who had abused him. I thought I couldn’t do anything good. Even if I donated money
or took him home with me to adopt, it wouldn’t solve anything. The reason is that
he still loved his parents. I wondered why such thing happened, and what I was earning my money for, even at the cost of defeating others. I became confused. Various thoughts were
running around in my head. And then, I recalled my sealed memories. Soon after entering elementary school, I was really hated by my homeroom teacher. What I thought about life
and what my grandma told me, he’d say it was all impossible. “You will never be able
to make your dream come true,” he told me many times. My grandpa patted my head, but the teacher hit it over and over. Even though that was very painful for me, there were no adults to save me. I remembered what he said. He always used the word
“It’s impossible, anyway.” I thought it was an awful word. This is the worst phrase to deprive us
of confidence and possibility. But it’s such an easy word
at the same time. This word can be a good excuse
for not doing anything. Because it makes you feel relieved,
that word is awful. Those who were forced to give up
their future by this word will lose their confidence. However, we cannot live
without confidence, no matter what. So some of them
who have lost their confidence start buying confidence with money
to adorn themselves. And they will have to boast about it or look down on others for it. Moreover, because others’ success
is inconvenient for them, some of them start
hindering others’ efforts. You might know such people around you. However, they are poor people
who have lost their confidence. In order to protect it, they might have no choice
but to take away others’ confidence. In addition, my company had visitors
from Africa. After I talked about my story,
they told me theirs. Nowadays in Africa, “I am useless even though I study
and make an effort,” people with such thoughts who have given up
their dreams and possibilities eventually start killing
and robbing others. Because they can’t do their best
and create anything new, their only choice is robbing. Sometimes with a violent assault. They also lie, pretend to be weak,
or deceive others to rob. But if we all robbed others,
our society wouldn’t work. So I realized the awfulness of saying
“It’s impossible, anyway.” People are not born knowing this phrase. Then, when do we happen to learn it? I wondered if it is space
that teaches us the phrase. Since the universe is beautiful, everyone longs for it at least once
when we are little. But do you think
you can do space engineering? Has a notion taken hold of your mind that it costs a large amount of money,
unless you are really smart? Have you been convinced
that only the state can do it? Who taught you that? It is those who have never tried
that teach you such a thing. Those people tell us
that irresponsible excuse for not doing it. That makes us confused
about what we should do and what we can do. So I decided to eliminate the phrase
“It’s impossible, anyway.” If it is eliminated, bullying, violence,
and wars will disappear. I was hoping that child abuse
would disappear as well. That’s why I started space engineering, which everyone thinks
is “impossible, anyway.” However, I knew that it was not okay to build a rocket, because it’s dangerous. So I had given it up. But God saved me. God let me meet Professor Nagata
from Hokkaido University. Miraculously, he was
researching safe rockets. And more miraculously, he was about
to give it up due to lack of funds. I had no funds, but I had the capability. These two people happened
to meet each other. Since that time, I have come to think
that there is a meaning in meeting people. God leads you to someone
whom you need to meet. Therefore, I believe
that I met every one of you today because God suggested that it is time. Professor Nagata and I
could help each other because we were imperfect. In fact, we can help each other because each of us doesn’t have
everything they need. If we were perfect,
we wouldn’t need others’ help. Since we are imperfect,
we can help each other. That’s why we shouldn’t
make fun of someone imperfect. We don’t have to be ashamed
of ourselves either. The important thing is that it’s completely unnecessary
to blame ourselves, like “I can’t do anything perfectly.” Truth is, being incomplete is much better than doing nothing
or not being able to do anything. It’s better to try than to do nothing. So I didn’t have to blame myself or think badly of myself
because I had flaws. I just should have done things
that I was capable of doing. By lending a hand to each other, we can do space engineering today. Many researchers have come
to visit my company for experiments and research. And as many as 10,000 children
visit my company every year on a school trip or a field trip. To be frank, my company
has only 17 employees. (Laughter) It’s a little bit tough. But I’m hoping
that as many children as possible won’t be deprived of opportunities. My belief is that society will be improved if “It’s impossible, anyway”
is eliminated. But there is a limit
to what I can do on my own, so by all means, I need friends. This dream might be unrealizable
in my lifetime. That’s why I’d like you to give me a hand. From now on, when you hear “It’s impossible, anyway,” please say, “Why don’t you try
this way, instead?” Thanks to this simple phrase,
“It’s impossible anyway” will disappear, and bullying and violence will disappear
from this world as well. So I beg for your help. Think about formal education. We’ve dedicated ourselves to learning it. Then, is formal education
about being graded? That is totally wrong. Education is what humankind has created
to solve social problems. It is something
which we’ve built up desperately. Then, what is education? Is education a how-to manual
for teaching a shrewd way of living, how to avoid failures or responsibilities? That is completely wrong. Education is about letting children
safely experience failures that wouldn’t kill them. But somehow, it’s gone entirely wrong. The reason is that there were a lot
of adults who considered failure bad. Such people have taken away
our sense of possibility and confidence. But it’s going to be all right. In order to make Japan and the world
better in the future, we need more people who are eager to do
what they’ve never done and who do not give up
and can try another way. They are those who do not lose
to “It’s impossible, anyway.” Who are such people, then? The answer is every one of you. Everybody is like that. It is because every person
experiences childhood, inevitably. Please remember your childhood. When we were little, if there was a button,
we wanted to push it. If there was a handle,
we wanted to turn it. Then we would get yelled at,
“Just quit it!” In fact, when people are born,
no one knows how to give up. We all were born without
the knowledge of giving up. But we may have learned it
a little by now. There’s just one sure-fire method for us
to regain our confidence. Try what we have never done. Achieving what you’ve never done
will give you some confidence. So, please try it. But if you try something new,
you might not succeed. Watch this video of my experiment. The rocket flew up beautifully. No, it didn’t. It went right down. (Laughter) What should we do? Throw away the controller
and run away. (Laughter) Nowadays, there really isn’t
anyone who runs away like you just saw. This video shows
that if you feel you’re in danger, it is OK to run away. (Laughter) (Applause) Well, my experience tells me that some earnest, gentle and responsible
people die sooner than expected. I don’t want that to happen. I want everyone to survive. So if you feel unsafe, it is absolutely OK to run away from it. But after that, even if you have failed, run away, and given up, please do not blame yourself. Please do not feel down. You don’t have to do that. But in a situation like this, you will feel hurt, sorry, frustrated, sad, and ashamed. The surge of emotions can be scary. But when you feel those complex emotions, just say, “I am growing right now!” Then, you’ll be able to leave
something behind you. By all means, please try saying that. We only get one life. We live only one life, without rehearsal. Then, what were we born for? Think of it this way. Failure is a stepping stone to success. Because we are on the stage
with no rehearsal, it’s natural to fail. I hope that you consider failures
as data to learn from and get over it. Moreover, we weren’t born
to be helped or to give up. We were not born for such things. We were born to save the world. Saving the world is easy. If all the people who make up the world
just stop looking down on themselves, the world will be saved. This is the way to save the world
that each one of us can start on now. So, please start saving the world. Don’t think like “I’m no good.” What we should do from this day forth is not to look for the reason
why we cannot do it. Instead, think and find the reason
why we can do it. Just following that rule will directly
make the world better. My long story is going to be over soon. I’ve loved airplanes and rockets
since I was little. But people with no experience
told me many times, “Your dream can’t be possible.” However, my mother told me
that “hope invites.” I didn’t stop hoping,
which made my dream possible. So, I’m sure that
not to lose hope is important. Before I finish my story, I’d like to give you one phrase
that will help your dream come true. It is, “Try this way instead,
and your dream will come true.” Imagine that you are talking
to someone about your dream. If the person says, “That’s impossible,” you’ll lose spirit. But if you are told,
“Try this way instead. I saw a book that can be helpful,” or “I’ve seen a TV show
that may inspire you,” it’ll cheer you up more. It’ll be definitely more fun. So if you talk about dreams with somebody and say to each other,
“Try this way instead,” everyone’s dream will come true. Everyone will become famous. How wonderful, isn’t it? I hope the phrase “Try this way instead”
will spread throughout the world. And then, I believe that
“It’s impossible, anyway” will disappear. Let’s spread the phrase
“Try this way, instead” by all means. Perhaps, it might be
the meaning of meeting you today. So I’d like us to help each other. I’ll continue to do my very best, too. Because you and I shared
a valuable time together, I hope our friendship will last. Thank you very much. (Applause) Thank you.


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