What is Kaizen
Kaizen is a system used for changing behavior or reaching your goals. Kaizen is the act of small gradual improvements that compound into larger and lasting changes. The concept originates from car manufacture Toyota who created the concept to create a better industry process. came up with a new but can also be used in your company or for yourself. It’s based on the factory improvement and streamlining of business. it basically means continuous improvement. Instead of radical change in 1 week it is about 1% improvement everyday.
“I’d rather they go home and meditate for 1 minute than go home and not meditate for 30 minutes. They might like it and forget to stop”
Kaizen and Traditional Change
Traditional change is radical. People reach a tipping point with their old behaviour or a sudden event gives them finally enough motivation to change. Next people use these new found motivation for radical change.
With weight loss for example people start going to the gym 4 times a week and running an 1 hour and cutting all sugar. “Only eating clean food for me now!”. While technically this is effective for losing weight, the amount of people who can maintain such a radical change in their lives is small. Not impossible mind you, there are cases of people changing their lives successfully all of a sudden. But it is definitely not an effective strategy for most people.
People reach a tipping point and want to change their live NOW RADICALLY to solve the problem. They try to run up a hill with their newfound willpower and motivation. When running they either get exhausted because the change from doing nothing is too big or they quit because they look up the mountain and see how far they still have to go which triggers a loss of motivation and fear.
Also your biology isn’t helping. Your mind is rigged to resist change. Change will trigger fear in the Amygdala part of your brain resulting in a fight or flight response. You Amygdala is your primal part of your brain handling responses such as fear.
This is why you can comfortably imagine a scenario in your living room but when the scenario becomes real you freeze up and your brain stops working.
Large Goal → Fear (Amygdala) → Cortex access restricted → Failure
Small Goal → Fear (Amygdala) bypassed → Cortex engaged → Success
3 ways to apply Kaizen and get started
Kaizen for your business
- Everyone can participate, from the cleaners to the CEO. Freedom to
- Shutdown the production line until the problem is fixed.
Expand this some with use of the book and Google of the basic principles.
Kaizen for personal goals
Your brain is programmed to resist change but by taking small steps you effectively rewire your system to do the following:
- “Unsticks” you from a creative block
- Bypasses the fight or flight response
- Creates new connections between the neurons so that the brain enthusiastically takes over the process of change and you progress rapidly towards the goal
Ask Small questions
Your brain loves questions and won’t reject them (Unless they are huge like: “How can I find a product to generate 100K a month”). Simple questions are perfect to get your brain started with a task or unleash your creativity. For change to work repeat it daily for a couple of weeks to be effective (but start small). The power is in the repetition so create ways to be able to ask yourself the questions of weeks so your brain has the time to adapt.
- “What is the smallest step I can do to be more efficient?”
- “If you were guaranteed not to fail, wat would you be doing differently?”
- “If nothing could go wrong what would I do?”
- “What is one small step I could take towards reaching my goal?”
- “What could you hypothetically do in this situation?”
- “What would X say in this situation, (not you of course but x)”
- “What is one thing I like about myself today”?
- “If health where priority what would I be doing differently today?”
- “What is one small step I could take to improve my health/relationship
- “What is one way I can remind myself to drink more water”
- “What is one thing which is special about me?”
- “Is there a person in my life who’s voice I haven’t heard in a long time? What small question can I ask this person?
- “What is one small step colleagues/girlfriend/family wants me to make?”
The easy technique of mind sculpture uses “small thoughts” to help you develop new social, mental and even physical skills – just by you imagining performing them. Mind sculpture is based on research which states that the brain learns not in large dramatic”Just do it” doses but in very small increments. Smaller than believed possible. In mind sculpture you are engaged not only imagining it visually but imagining hearing, feeling smelling the action. Completely visualize the event with all the senses. Your brain does not understand that it is not actually performing the imagined activity. Your brain chemistry will change.
The trick in mind sculpture is to ask simple questions to get going. Because it feels real this means it is also subjectable to the amygdala.
To get started use simple questions like before:
“What is the smallest step I can take to recall that memory or situation?”
- Pick a task that you are either afraid of or uncomfortable to do. Try to give yourself at least a month before you actually have to perform the activity.
- Decide how many seconds a day you want to dedicate to this practice (seconds, not minutes or hours keep it stupidly simple). The time commitment should be so low that you can easily fulfil it’s requirements every day. Repetition is essential. Whatever you do repeatedly, even for a few seconds at a time, the brain decides must be important and so begins committing cells to the new behavior.
- When you are ready for practice, sit or lie down in a comfortable spot and close your eyes.
- Imagine that you are in the difficult or uncomfortable situation and looking through your own eyes. What do you see?> What is the setting? Who’s there? What do they look like? See the expression on their faces, the clothes they are wearing and their posture.
- Now expand your imagination to the rest of your senses. What are the sounds and smells and flavors and textures around you?
- Without moving an actual muscle, imagine that you are performing the task. What are the words you use? What does your voice sound like and how does it resonate through your body?
- When your time for mind sculpture has become a habit and even fun, you may find that you are automatically performing the formerly difficult activity with enthusiasm. But if you’re not ready for the real thing, that’s perfectly okay. Never force the process of kaizen; it works only if you let change happen in a comfortable and easy manner. You may instead choose to increase the time you spend on mind sculpture-but once again, you should increase slowly, perhaps by just thirty seconds. You should increase the length and pace only when the previous stage of mind sculpture has become effortless. If you start making excuses for not practicing mind sculpture, or if you find yourself forgetting to do it, then you need to cut back on the amount of time.
- Once you feel comfortable using mind sculpture for this task (and it may take days or weeks or even longer), imagine a worst-case scenario and how you would respond effectively to it. A public speaker might feel nervous sweat run down his face as he sees the audience members looking bored and hears them whispering among themselves. He would then imagine how he would like to speak, gesture, and feel in that situation with fear.
- When you feel ready to take on the actual task, try out some small steps at first. To continue the public speaking example, consider giving your talk out loud but to an empty room or to an audience of one sympathetic person.
Take small steps
Small actions trick the brain into thinking: “Hey this change is so tiny that it’s no big deal. No need to get worked up about this. No risk of failure or unhappiness here”
Small Actions are at the hart of Kaizen by taking steps that are so small and trivial (even laughably small) you’ll sail calmy past obstacles that have defeated you before. Slowly – but painlessly! You will create an apitite for continued success and lay down a permanent route to change.
No matter how much your prepare or practice mind sculpture eventually you must take action. Your first actions will be VERY small actions, so small that they will feel silly. That is okay. At times you will feel that it is to easy and you should do more. Resist this urge because it can lead to you overestimating what you are capable of and calling in the Amygdala resulting in resistance and losing drive.
Radical programs of change bring out your hidden and not so hidden fears and obstacles.
- Drink less coffee – take 1 sip of coffee less each day
- Begin an exercising program – stand still on the treadmill for 1 minute each morning
Amygdala stops thinking when fear, uncertainty, change or discomfort in detected. It throws up a smoke screen making your mind go blank and makes you unable to think leading to a flight response.
If your goal is too big amyg will stop you and also stop you from coming up with smaller steps in the moment to reach it. Focus on what I CAN DO to bypass Amyg. Be careful with this because it triggers the Amyg if you see this only as a stepping stone for the bigger action. It will still throw the smoke screen because you are trying to do or plan something which is too big for the Amyg at that time.
By breaking down the situation into physical micro steps you CAN do you avoid the amygdala “firewall”. Almost like a robot your describe the exact steps to execute in micro detail.
Example: Walk up to Person x VS Make 10 steps in the direction towards that bench and start with your left foot. Apr VS Sit next on that bench over there by walking towards it
How to do something?
Break it down to the literal physical level on micro scale (“giving intructions to the Robot”). If steps are too vague and it triggers the amyg break it down even further.
- Write out individual steps
- What CAN I do, instead of what can I not do
- What does not trigger Amyg? (Stupid simple) Ex. Sit next to, walk up and turn past, EC only for 1 sec.
Based on: One Small Step to Change your Life. The Kaizen Way