What Is Kaizen?
I’ve heard the idea of Kaizen spoken about A LOT in 2016. Numerous authors have used this concept in their works on self-improvement, performance enhancement, productivity, and climbing the corporate ladder. Kaizen has been spoken about on podcasts and featured in blog posts in much the same way, often being alluded to as a sort of “life-hack” that will improve you, your life, and your current condition. The basic premise of Kaizen is not knew, in fact it has been around for an extremely long time. A simple Google search yields thousands of references and articles, often tied to business productivity or process management. Like so many concepts, Kaizen as an idea is being recycled into our lexicon as a driver of making or sustaining change, and pointing our compass towards living a valued, meaningful life. This then begs the question – What is Kaizen?
First and foremost Kaizen is a Japanese word that gets the most credit for being used in business practices. The word Kaizen is actually the combination of Kai, typical translation ‘change,’ and Zen, typical translation ‘good.’ Kaizen has typically been defined as changing for the better, or most often defined as “continuous improvement.” The basic premise of Kaizen is that focusing on small, manageable, continual improvements consistently will lead to long term, sustainable gains.
As we embark on a new year, for many filled with New Year’s Resolutions involving grand notions about changing our lives in 180 degree directions, remember that any life change requires daily discipline. We are too often caught by shiny objects, books, ideas etc promising quick, sweeping change in only a few simple steps. Nothing worth your doing is going to happen without daily discipline repeated again and again.
In my mind, Kaizen all boils down to this. For any meaningful change to happen in your life, you have to engage in consistent, committed work. There are no quick, simple solutions to achieving great things in your life. You have to put yourself in a mindset of commitment to sustainable, workable behaviors that are aligned with your short term and long term goals. This then needs to be carried out on a daily, consistent basis. Once set into motion, then and only then are you creating a system that will ultimately help you achieve those goals.