Recently in my karate class, we’d finished training for the night and were talking about a certain principle that the Japanese follow. They apply this principle not just to training, but to life itself- and once you tap into this mindset, it manifests in ways far beyond what you might expect…
You see, there was a time when the phrase ‘Made In Japan’ indicated a product was made cheaply and inferior in quality. Yet, over time, Japanese products and technological input came to be highly valued in Western countries that were (previously) dominated by their American or European competitors.
How did this turnaround happen?
An insistence on restoring national pride after WW2 definitely helped, as honour and pride are backbones of the Japanese psyche. At the same time, it was this other concept that oversaw the nations’ reversal from the devastation the end of the war left them with- and it transformed their standing on the world stage…
It was a little concept known as ‘kaizen’
This term features constantly in their language and covers a wide range of subjects- kaizen in their relationships, kaizen in their production line, kaizen in their business success, kaizen in their studies and yes, kaizen in their martial arts training. Tony Robbins was so impressed with this concept that he adopted his own terminology for the same thing- known as CANI (Constant And Notable Improvement).
What does it mean?
Think of it like playing golf: if you’re aiming for a hole in 1 every shot, what do you think your success rate is going to be? Good luck trying to finish the course before dark!
Instead, wouldn’t it be far better to focus on finishing the course 1 drive, 1 putt at a time? Do that, and your low score takes care of itself (practise helps a lot as well- as any golfer can testify to!)
So if you apply kaizen to your professional life- what little aspect can you improve today? If you make one small, daily improvement in the delivery of service or marketing or the training of your team- and keep at it every day- think how different could the outlook be for you just one year from now…
You’d definitely notice a difference, wouldn’t you?
That’s all kaizen comes down to, in a nutshell: improving in some small form every day, knowing that over time the big picture becomes more apparent. Learn a language for 30 minutes a day and you struggle at first, but 6 months later you can make simple statements or requests fluently, at the very least. Learn to box for one session and you may get beaten up a little. But keep coming back and (before you know it) you can step into the ring- and win. I talked about my own kaizen revelation, here: Preparing To Fight Taught Me THESE 3 Unexpected Things
So if you’re feeling flustered or like the day’s got the better of you, I encourage you to stop and ask yourself: how are you doing, compared to yesterday? If nothing comes to mind, think of just one action item or attitude that you could change- and aim to do it better than you did yesterday.
Commit to this, and you get a renewed sense of power and purpose- and pride as the positive changes begin to manifest day by day, week by week, month by month, year after year.
Try it for yourself and let me know how you go- one putt forward at a time…