Kaizen: The Japanese Philosophy for Continuous Improvement.
How many times have you set a goal, only to be too busy to even START working towards it? Many of us lose ourselves in the gap between ideas and execution.
So, say you want to be a great ballroom dancer. That’s a good goal to have. But saying you “will be” is not very useful… nor does it get results. So how can you become great? The secret is that it just takes consistency.
Kaizen, the Japanese word for consistent action, is the basis of the Kaizen Approach. The Kaizen approach says that when we look at a huge goal, we actually overwhelm ourselves rather than inspiring ourselves to take the action needed to achieve it. In practical philosophy, the Kaizen approach says that we need to simply do 1% better at our goal today than we did yesterday. That’s it- and it’s enough!
Can you do 1% better on your dance routines today than you did yesterday? Sure you can. That, done every day, will result in exponential improvement over time. This method is used by MBAs and by self-improvers alike. It does not matter what the goal is… Kaizen will help you achieve it. It all comes down to baby steps. Radical change does not happen overnight! Improvement comes down to the incremental changes we make every day.
Let’s look at an example in the competitive ballroom dancing world. Looking at a more specific goal, such as
winning 1st place at a national competition, we can see how it would be easy to be inspired in the moment of goal-setting, but also easy to be overwhelmed when starting to work towards it. So you set the goal, you take a few dance lessons, you get discouraged, and you decide this goal is unattainable. No medals for you. Boo!
Now, let’s try it again using the Kaizen Approach. You set the goal the same way, sure. But the important difference is that you break the goal down. So, perhaps you want first place in a rhythm scholarship.You need to think about the specifics of reaching the goal. “That’s about five rhythm dances in a row,” you think to yourself. Have you completed your dance routines? Have you worked on your arm styling? By breaking down the things you need to work on, you know where to spend your time, and where to make your improvements. You practice, and you get 1% better every day. And after a while, you win.
The age old saying that practice makes perfect is true, but it isn’t specific enough. Improve 1% everyday- that’s all you need to become a great ballroom dancer!