The Kaizen Philosophy is a management style of continual incremental improvement. Rooted in Japanese philosophy, where kai means change and zen means good. Japanese managers, namely from the automotive industry adopted this philosophy in their manufacturing and business operations that develops a culture of open communication and a willingness to change. There is a delineation between radical and continuous process improvement.
Now before you click away, this isn’t a dissertation on management practices and optimal performance metrics. There is a lot more to the Kaizen management practice itself that I won’t be discussing here. What I really like about the Kaizen philosophy is the mindset of continual incremental improvement. When we look at our life from the macro, this is really how we live life, by gradually getting better every day. There is very rarely drastic events that are life changing – although these do occur and are usually out of our control.
This concept works both in the positive and negative, just like we don’t wake up one morning out of shape and overweight, we can’t expect to make one big change and expect to lose 50lbs and run a marathon in a week. To get somewhat philosophical, we are where we are in life due to a series of choices and random events, our choices are what we concerned with, since that is all that is in our control. Choosing to prepare meals at home rather than choosing to buy fast food is an example of choice, Just like choosing to go to bed early so that you get adequate amounts of rest and so you can wake up early to either workout or prepare for the day ahead is also a choice. If life is just one choice after the next, we can make better choices one decision at a time and incrementally over the long run, we’ll have a better life.
With our health, we should adopt a philosophy of Kaizen, because the vast majority of things we have control over are in essence, small steps we can take each and every day to improve ourselves. Personally, the best way that I’ve found to create a habit and stick to it, is to change things incrementally, change something so small that it’s nott really noticed. The second step is to build a habit in place of the one you are wanting to stop. E.g., I wanted to reduce the amount of times a week I would socialize after work, because I didn’t want to make bad nutritional choices and avoid alcohol, it would also mean I could save money. So instead of training in the mornings, I started training after work, to simply occupy my time. Another thing I have implemented is my breakfast morning routine, I now no longer think about breakfast during the week, my standard breakfast is four eggs and a slice of toasted Ezekiel bread and butter. Notice, I didn’t cut out the toast, I replaced it with something else. It also speeds up my morning routine and takes one less equation out of a hectic morning.
The Kaizen method can also be brought into training. Ask any great athlete if they’re happy with their performance and nine times out of ten, they won’t be, because they recognize there’s always room for improvement. When the 100m gold and silver medallist is differentiated by thousandths of a second, there is always room for improvement. This is how we should treat our training, nobody has perfect squat technique, even the greats are always looking for ways to improve. You should too. Watch YouTube videos, read books, attend seminars, train with people stronger than you. Lose the ego and adopt a learning mindset. It’s unnecessary to implement the 100’s of things you’ll learn, but try one thing at a time and see if it has a positive or negative effect on training outcomes. This will lead to better training and better results over the course of a life.
The minute we stop growing and learning is the same minute we start declining. In life there is no stagnation, because of time. If we’re the same today as we were yesterday, then we’re in a worse off position, because that’s 24 hours closer to the ultimate end, without growth. So take the little steps over and over again with a growth mindset and you’ll be unstoppable.