How kaizen has changed my life is impressive for a hardcore perfectionist like me.
There is a before and after kaizen in my life.
What is kaizen?
Kaizen is Japanese and means continuous improvement with small steps.
The philosophy is this:
- Ask small questions
- Think small thoughts
- Take small actions
- Solve small problems
Change happens and goals are met through small steps.
Science tells us that our brain reacts to change with fear. The amygdala reacts with a fight, flight or freeze response.
Setting big goals creates resistance in the same way.
Using the kaizen philosophy relaxes the brain and make your work ahead doable.
You literally bypass the amygdala and get access to cortex, the thinking part of your brain.
How kaizen has changed my life
How kaizen has changed my life and continues to change my life is by using the small approach to pretty much everything I do.
From washing up, cleaning, writing a blog post like this one, to working with the children at my day job and to creating my first online paid course.
I take small steps every day and I solve small problems almost every day.
Using kaizen is a much more gentle and kind way to move through life, and it’s the opposite of massive action, knocking yourself over the head for not sticking to your newest diet (yet again).
Kaizen is the opposite of whipping-yourself-into-shape approach, which I am very familiar with. Maybe you are too?
If you are, you know it usually doesn’t work.
When to use kaizen?
There is nothing wrong with innovation as a way to create change. Innovation, as the word is described in business schools, means a drastic process of change.
Drastic change is like when I stopped smoking 20 years ago cold turkey.
The problem is that many of us think massive change is the only way to change. And that’s when kaizen is a wonderful alternative.
Because kaizen works also when the first enthusiasm has died and you rely only on willpower.
How to use kaizen
Robert Maurer talks about 6 strategies to kaizen in his brilliant book “One small step can change your life – the kaizen way”:
- asking small questions to dispel fear and inspire creativity
- thinking small thoughts to develop new skills and habits – without moving a muscle
- taking small actions that guarantee success
- solving small problems, even when you’re faced with an overwhelming crisis
- bestowing small rewards to yourself or others to produce the best results
- recognizing the small but crucial moments that everyone else ignores
In this small book, Bob Maurer goes into details of these 6 strategies.
Using small steps is the strategy that works for me best. I use it every day.
I hope you have been inspired to use the kaizen approach in your own life. And I recommend Bob’s book if you want to learn more. Bob’s our kaizen-muse creativity coach “mascot”, one of our teachers, and he is a kind man.