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The Life-Changing Philosophy of Kaizen

This ONE habit, if adopted, would completely transform your life.


The story of Kaizen starts with Toyota, but it really belongs to everyone. In the late 1970s, Toyota was in a tough spot. Their cars were becoming more expensive than their competitors’ cars, but their quality wasn’t any better. They needed to figure out how to make better cars for less money. To solve this problem, they turned to an engineer named Taiichi Ohno. Ohno had been working with Toyota for many years and was well-known for his ability to make ideas work in practice. He came up with a new way of thinking about how people did their jobs, which he called “the kaizen approach” (pronounced: kigh-zen). The idea is simple: if you take care of the little things, they add up to big improvements.


The idea of Kaizen is to continually improve on what you do. Kaizen is not just a way of thinking about work; it’s also a way of working. It involves making small changes every day and evaluating those changes to see if they improve the process. If so, you keep doing them; if not, you keep looking for other ways to improve. The word kaizen is Japanese for “improvement.” It’s often translated as “continuous improvement,” but that doesn’t quite capture the spirit of the concept. Kaizen is more than just making incremental changes; it’s about looking for opportunities to make things better by asking questions and finding answers. It is a total philosophy and attitude towards trying to improve all the things, all the time. Kaizen is not just about productivity and work, it can be applied to all facets of life; mindset, business, health, personal finance, spirituality, right down to just being a better person. Whatever you value in your life, a Kaizen mindset of seeking continuous improvement in those areas can completely transform your life.


Kaizen is rooted in the belief that small improvements that are made across an organization add up over time to become big results. In one area it may be hard to make large gains, but small improvements made across multiple areas compound. For example, it may be difficult to improve sales in your business by a large amount, but what if you were committed to making a 1% improvement to not only your sales but your cost of sales, your overhead costs, your marketing results, and your shipping costs? All of these tiny improvements add up to 5% or more for the business, an increase that may be severely more difficult to achieve just in one area. This applies to your personal life as much as it applies to your business; a small improvement across many areas of your life can compound to a large increase in overall life satisfaction.


Consistent improvement leads to great results. Compound interest, as Einstein put it, is the "8th Wonder of The World". Consistency is so important, in fact, that it matters more than intensity. Let me show you how;

This is across the span of just one week. Over a year, this equals a total of 8,320 extra units of improvement! Now imagine this as a repetition of skill like a tennis shot, kilometers for a runner, or pages read per night. Who do you think will be more proficient over time? No matter what area you apply this to, the results are the same; smaller improvements made more consistently compound over time to a far greater number than larger improvements made less frequently. This is great news for us because a lower intensity means less effort: We can literally achieve greater results, with less effort, just by being more consistent!


The Kaizen philosophy is simple: look for ways to make things better every day, and keep doing it until there’s nothing left to improve. It really is as simple as that. It is a simple intention that every single day, you will rise, and seek improvement in everything that you do. Every area that is important to you, everything that you value, everything that you work on, every area of your life, business, career, health, relationships, everything: Seek Continuous Improvement.


This ONE habit, if adopted, would completely transform your life.


Imagine adopting a Kaizen mindset in your business, or for your health, or your sport - imagine the results you would see after 6 months, 12 months, or 5 years, of seeking improvement every single day.


Forgetting results for a second: It has been found from psychology research that one of, if not the biggest, cause of happiness, is progress. It makes sense, right? Making progress in an area of our life that is meaningful to us, or towards a goal that is meaningful to us, gives us joy. Seeking continuous improvement is not just about the results we get, but the fulfillment we get from the seeking itself. Once we find joy in the seeking of improvement, we can forget about the result, and we can truly enjoy the process. We always hear people say 'you have to enjoy the process' but we never really hear how, and I mean, sometimes, the process sucks, right? Well, if we can change our attitude to one of seeking continuous improvement, in an area, or towards a goal, that is meaningful to us, we actually get to that place of enjoying the process more than the result. This intrinsic joy is one of the largest determinants of success, Steve Jobs has spoken about it, Gary Vaynerchuck talks about it all the time - if you can find and do something for the pure joy of it, you will outlast everyone else who only cares about the result.


If you focus on continuous improvement in everything you do, then small changes can add up over time and result in big effects. I highly, highly encourage you to adopt a Kaizen mindset, because it will truly change your life. The results you can achieve are astronomical, and the fulfillment you will feel from seeing progress is so rewarding it is hard to put into words.


Takeaway: We can all make a conscious effort to learn, improve and do better each day.


To Your Improvement, To Your Success,


Alec.

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