To our creative and passionate community of entrepreneurs – thank you!
You each represent a combination of hope, vision, and action that make the world a better place. Whether you have been in business for a while and want to tackle some new projects, are just getting off the ground, or have an exciting idea that you haven’t started, small steps lead to big accomplishments.
And The Kaizen Way is one method to get there. According to One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer, “Change can be easy “when the brain’s preference for change is honored.”
The Sino-Japanese word “kaizen” means “change for better” through small, continuous improvement. The author indicates that the method is an “open secret” long used by Japanese businesses. The idea of small steps is contrary to and much more gentle than the Western idea of “go big or go home.”
The 6 suggested ways to take small steps towards achieving goals in business and life according to Mr. Maurer’s study of The Kaizen Way, are:
1. Kaizen: Ask Small Questions – to dispel fear and inspire creativity.
Mr. Maurer describes a supervisor, with an overly-assertive tone, asking a group of employees “What are you going to do to make our company the best?!” The employees are uncomfortable and no one answers. After coaching, the supervisor calmly asks: “What is one small way we can improve our process or product?” This opens the door for ideas. Whatever the small question that you ask yourself, “remember that you are programming your brain for creativity, so choose a question and ask it repeatedly, over the course of several days or weeks.” Don’t forget to be gentle with yourself!
2. Kaizen: Think Small Thoughts – to develop new skills and habits.
Here the author introduces the concept of mind sculpture. “Mind sculpture takes advantage of cutting-edge neuroscience, which suggests that the brain learns best not in large dramatic doses— Just do it! — but in very small increments, smaller than ever believed possible.” The book describes a person who dreaded doing employee reviews because he avoided both confrontation and praising people. One solution was for him to practice at home—to think of small ways to request that a family member do something differently and of ways to express gratitude. His family was pleased and he used that positive experience to overcome his fear.
3. Kaizen: Take Small Actions – that guarantee success.
Now that you are asking small questions and thinking small thoughts, try some small actions. Want to stop overspending (and practice minimalism)? Remove one object from the shopping cart before checking out. Want to see change in the world? Pick one organization to support. Thinking of starting a business, but stuck on the legal stuff? Try an EPW Quick Call.
4. Kaizen: Solve Small Problems – even when you’re faced with what feels like a crisis.
If you are faced with a sudden crisis in your business, such as a client who accuses you of not delivering on the work, or a sudden cease and desist letter in the mail, your first reaction may be confusion. Rage posting on Facebook. Running out to hire a lawyer and sue them in court. But these legal issues–even immediate, emergency issues–are not resolved overnight, and should not be handled in a panic.
The first step is to solve the most immediate problem, and to put yourself into a calm, reflective state of mind, so you can handle the issue from a powerful position. Have a cup of tea. Go for a run. Do yoga. Read a novel. Write in your journal. Walk your dog. Take five or 30 minutes to put yourself in a better frame of mind, so you can research, seek advice, and respond to the situation in an appropriate manner.
5. Kaizen: Bestow Small Rewards – for yourself or others.
At EPW we have a #celebrate_success channel in Slack. The news we share may be big or small, but seeing the channel light up with news, commenting on each other’s accomplishments, and giving each other reaction emoji of “thumbs up” or “champagne” is a reward for our entire team. What are small ways that you can create inspirational momentum in business or your personal life?
6. Kaizen: Identify Small Moments – when you feel good or more alive.
Kids tend to delight in small, in-the-present moments when they are playing and using their imagination. As adults we may not make time for enough play, but if you notice moments where you feel more alive and present— take note. Creative breakthroughs may lead to your next great idea!
Small Personal Examples of The Kaizen Way in Real Life
One Small Step Can Change Your Life is a small book. Like many of us who are inundated with information online, I have gotten in the habit of looking at a never-ending throng of quick articles and videos, and not reading enough books. I want to change that. The simple act of reading One Small Step Can Change Your Life, was a small step towards that goal.
And a timely example of a small step.
As we all know, New Year’s Resolutions frequently fail. How to make a successful resolution? Make your New Year’s resolution too small to fail!
This year I resolved to use my middle finger more. On my computer touch pad. 😉 Tapping with my index finger created a repetitive stress injury that made it hard to type. This time last year I was in pain and worried about not being able to work and now I’m fine. Every time I feel a twinge of discomfort, I am reminded of that small resolution and I adjust.
Break Things Down into Small Pieces with The Kaizen Way
The Kaizen Way builds new connections in the brain, by disarming anxiety and invigorating creativity and rational thinking. Most things that are overwhelming or that feel like an obstacle can be broken down bit by bit. This is true in business and in life. What small steps have you found beneficial? Talk to us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know!