This book demonstrates how a tiny step can have a large impact. Robert Maurer discusses the significance of making tiny efforts toward a better life. He goes on to discuss kaizen, which is nothing but continuous improvement. He outlines six ways to implement kaizen in your everyday life.
- Asking small questions
- Thinking small thoughts
- Taking small actions
- Solving small problems
- Bestowing small rewards
- Identifying small moments
Before we go into the techniques, let me define kaizen:
- Which is the smallest country with a variety of problems?
- Which country is the world’s third-largest economy?
- Which country experiences the most earthquakes each year?
Japan is the sole answer to all of the above questions. How did Japan become the world’s largest economy despite facing numerous challenges? What is the secret to their rapid development? Kaizen is the only approach.
What is Kaizen?
Kaizen is a method of continuous improvement based on the idea that small, consistent positive activities can produce significant outcomes. Change is symbolized by kai, whereas progress is symbolized by zen. “A small change that leads to greater achievement” is how Kaizen is defined.
Divide your goal into little steps and break it down one by one, according to the Kaizen concept. Remember, it should be a simple action that even the laziest person can do. If you take on a big project, your mind will be afraid of not being able to finish it, which will lead to failure. Take such a modest, seemingly insignificant step that you can’t fail to start or finish it.
Example: Assume you’re getting ready to take an exam in 3 months. What are your options for dealing with the situation? At first, you study for the entire day until you experience a burst of motivation. Then you start making excuses, which indicates a lack of determination. Your mind will grow agitated and fearful, reminding you that it’s impossible.
The easiest method to approach the technique in this scenario is to break it down into little stages.
Learn one question before you eat your lunch. Is it likely to have a substantial impact? Yes, it certainly will! As a result, every time you go out to eat, you must learn one new question. In three months, there will be a 90-day lunch break. So you’ve got 90 meals on your hands. As a result, you’ll be able to learn 90 questions. This is how you can achieve a lot in small steps. And yes, this is the “Kaizen method.”
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Let’s take a look at the six principles of kaizen.
Kaizen principle 1 – Ask small questions:
What good does it do to ask such insignificant questions? Once again, the brain is too accountable. You should not ask questions such as,
- How am I going to lose weight?
- How am I going to be successful in my life?
Because these kinds of questions induce tension and concern. Rather, you should inquire like this:
- What can I do to remind myself to drink more water? The answer could be: I drink water every time I go to the kitchen.
- How am I going to read every day? I read five pages before going to bed.
- What can I do on a daily basis to practice gratitude? I should thank God every time I pray.
Whatever your goal was, start by asking a simple question and make it a habit. It is simple to form a habit, but it is more difficult to maintain the habit. If it is a minor habit, you are more likely to maintain it.
The logic behind this simple question is that you are training your brain for creativity, and it will begin to provide you with answers, creative breakthroughs, and suggestions for improvement. It takes time to build new mental pathways, which is why you should ask yourself the same short question every day.
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Kaizen principle 2 – Think small thoughts:
Have you ever heard the expression “fight or flight?” which is nothing but an innate physiological response to a hazardous environment, preparing one to either resist forcibly or flee. You can avoid going into flight mode in an unexpectedly difficult situation by simply planning your response ahead of time.
Assume there are two people named X and Y who are attempting to conquer their alcohol addiction.
- X did not experience any visions, but only had the thought of drinking alcohol.
- Y, on the other hand, visualizes that if he goes to a party, he will divert his thoughts by meeting new people and building a better network rather than hunting for alcohol.
- When the situation arises, X has not prepared for it, so he cannot fight; instead, he chooses flight, which means he will resume drinking. Due to the “newness” of the scenario, he lacks the time to consider the correct option.
- Y, on the other hand, fights for himself based on his plan. He makes new friends and expands his network.
By anticipating unpleasant situations, you can deceive your brain into thinking the issue is not new, preventing you from reverting to your old regular behavior. As a result, visualizing is vital for tiny things as well.
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Kaizen principle 3 – Take little action:
Reminding myself of the phrase “pennies make pounds.” Before every triumph, before every major achievement, there will undoubtedly be a series of tiny actions.
- If your objective is to go on a world trip, take little steps, such as saving 1% of your spending.
- If you want to improve your mood, try meditating for one minute every day.
- After a few days, the action becomes so obvious that you feel motivated to expand it and do it for longer periods of time each day.
- If you want to develop a skill, practice it for one minute every day.
- If you want to learn a new language, make a commitment to learning one new word per day.
- If you want to improve your writing skills, set aside one minute every day to write.
Don’t think about how these small steps will result in big success. Do you know what the world’s most difficult task is? It’s only the start of a new habit. You’re more likely to quit if you start with a big habit. Small activities aid in the development of a normal brain. Since it is simple and practical, your brain will not be startled.
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Kaizen principle 4 – Solve small problems.
Don’t dismiss minor issues. Small issues can have far-reaching consequences.
Examples of minor errors that resulted in major disasters:
- A NASA rocket exploded in 1962 due to a missed hyphen: One of the Mariner 1 Post-Flight Review Board’s official studies stated that a dropped hyphen in coded computer instructions resulted in inaccurate navigation signals being relayed to the spacecraft.
- An “exotic” trip transforms into an “erotic” one: Before the internet, the Yellow Pages were a wonderful way to advertise in 1988. Banner Travel Services, based in Sonoma, California, is advertised in the Yellow Pages as an “exotic” vacation destination. However, the Yellow Pages inadvertently promoted an “erotic” travel destination. Most of the senior clients ceased booking excursions as a result of the misused word, although a large number of younger couples inquired about it.
Examples of minor problems in our daily lives:
- Forgetting to set the time on our watches may result in the loss of a significant change in life, such as examinations, meetings, interviews, or anything.
- A single cigarette can start a large fire.
- Sending the information to the wrong person could lead to serious consequences.
- A slight head injury might result in significant brain damage.
Don’t put off correcting a problem until it becomes a major issue; instead, learn how to identify minor issues that could develop into major issues in the future. Small annoyances today could escalate to major annoyances in the future. It may be easier to act on this now than it will be in the future.
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Kaizen principle 5 – Give Out Small Prizes:
Small rewards help to enhance bigger things. A new study has discovered that giving people small prizes can drive them to put more effort into their work.
- Relationship: Tagging someone on your Instagram profile shows them that they are important to you. Appreciating your wife for cooking dinner makes her happy and inspires her to cook with love in the future.
- Career: Greeting your workers in the morning brightens their day. Sharing lunch with coworkers improves your professional life.
- Public: Talking with a cheerful face to a waiter encourages him to work joyfully. Saying thank you to the chef who prepared the great cuisine encourages him to cook more diverse dishes.
The implementation of small rewards could encourage everyone to improve their behavior. According to a recent study, people who received immediate, frequent rewards for completing small tasks reported more interest and enjoyment in their work than people who received delayed rewards only given out at the end of a long project.
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Kaizen principle 6 – Recognize small moments:
Enjoy life and be present because that’s how we can appreciate, notice, and identify small moments. And those seemingly insignificant moments can have a significant impact on our lives and the lives of people around us.
- A flight attendant noted that passengers weren’t eating olives in their salads, so they were removed, resulting in a 0.5 million dollar annual savings.
- Recognizing someone who is depressed has the potential to improve their lives.
Another example of kaizen in relationships is allowing ourselves to be interested in the tiny details of our partner’s life. Instead of expecting our friends to entertain us with dramatic gestures and stories, we can strive to enjoy their regular features and behaviors. Instead, attempt to find one moment each day to compliment your partner’s personality or attractiveness. Recognizing your loved one’s interests and putting down the newspaper or remote control when your spouse comes home may strengthen your relationship.
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The six Kaizen tactics all center on making incremental efforts to modify behavior by avoiding our natural flight response. These ideas are applicable at work, at home, and to everybody.