In my last blog I made reference to the notion of Kaizen; the notion of incremental change or continuous improvement. Since then, I have had a couple of folks who have asked me for more information about it. Well, it’s a fairly simple idea really, but it’s a very powerful concept nonetheless; as is its partner in crime – discipline. This blog post will explore the effect daily acts of discipline can have on both professional and personal mentalities and lifestyles.
Kaizen Continued: Using Small Changes to Make a Big Impact
To provide you with a bit more detail about this, I have again and unashamedly borrowed from the late, great Jim Rohn. I hope you will decide to look at his work because it’s brilliant. Jim said that success was just the practice of a few simple disciplines; day in, day out. These would be things like:
- Taking exercise
- Eating well
- Reading books and articles that will help your development. No, reading about the latest events on Love Island or about the Kardashians doesn’t count – sorry!
He suggested that we all suffer two pains in our lives. The first is the pain of discipline. You see, the things I’ve just listed above are actually easy to do. But, here’s the problem. They are also very easy not to do. It starts with self-talk along the lines of, “I’ll give my exercises a miss today and do twice as much tomorrow” or “Oh, one Krispy Kreme doughnut won’t make a difference will it?” or “I’ll read that book tomorrow because there’s a great programme on the TV”. You get the idea, don’t you?
The Pain of Daily Discipline
So, the first pain is one of discipline. The second pain is one of regret. This is the regret that you might feel, usually later in life, because you haven’t put the discipline in earlier on. Believe me, I have known that pain in my life! And, as Jim pointed out, “The pain of disciplines weighs ounces. The pain of regret can weigh tons” (sorry, I don’t know how much that is in metric!).
So if you want to be ‘successful‘ you have to commit. There is some good news though. It doesn’t have to be massive. This is where the idea of kaizen, and simple, continued acts of discipline come into play.
The Kaizen Philosophy
For those of you that are not familiar with the notion of kaizen, it is the power of small changes or continuous improvement. The founding father of kaizen was probably W.Edwards Deming who said (and I’ll paraphrase here) that it is arguably better to improve 100 things by 1% on-going than it is to improve 1 thing by 100% and then stop.
This is the philosophy that many Japanese companies used in the 1960s and 1970s that changed Japanese production from being referred to as Jap crap (sorry, but that’s what ‘Made in Japan’ meant back then), to quality products in more recent times; although they have had one or two problems of late as you might remember!
So, lots of small changes – often in the form of acts of discipline – that you make can over time equate to substantial change in your personal and professional life. It doesn’t take some herculean effort. Someone much wiser than me once told me that high performers, in any environment, probably don’t do extraordinary things. They just do ordinary things extraordinarily well.