In November 2015, I was introduced to the Kaizen Method from a friend who told me that what she learned in the book One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer, Ph. D actually did change her life because it opened her eyes to a better way she could move forward with any of the projects and tasks she was working on and helped her to bypass any sort of “stuckness” or resistance she was experiencing.
From that suggestion I came across Robert Maurer’s book The Spirit of Kaizen: Creating Lasting Excellence One Small Step at a Time and decided to start there. I listened to the audiobook version while driving on a long trip and it opened up my perspective on a better way to do things. I’ll explain how below.
Then I started working with Jill Badonsky who is the creator of the Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching program that teaches people how to use the Kaizen methods with their creativity. *SWOON* It totally fit right into what I had just learned and how I operated as a creative person. (As a side note – I’m going to take her certification program starting in August 2016, which I’m super excited for!)
But before I go any further, I must tell you this…A couple years ago I was working with a life coach. I was expressing how I was having a hard time moving forward with my business and was taking it slow with baby steps. She was bold enough to tell me that she thought my baby steps were “bullshit”.
They were bullshit because I wasn’t giving myself permission to leap forward in the way that I needed to. She saw the baby steps as my attempt to hold myself back. I was in the mists of transitioning from being a Virtual Assistant and into my real love as a Business + Life Coach.
Parts of me agreed, because I’ll admit…I got excited when I thought about taking big leaps forward. It’s where I really wanted to be.
And yet, I was scared to do it and felt like I didn’t have the mental capacity to take some of those bigger leaps because I saw so many steps that I knew I would have to do after I took the leap. Transitions I would have to make. Shifts I would have to embrace. It was overwhelming to think about it.
My ego wasn’t ready for it, but my soul yearned for it.
Because of all the inner conflict I had in taking the leap, it took longer than I wanted it to.
Obviously I’ve made the leap, but after coming across the Kaizen Method, I realized that those were the baby steps I was wanting to take.
You see, the Kaizen Method is described as being a continuous improvement long-term approach to work that systematically seeks to achieve small, incremental changes in processes in order to improve efficiency and quality. Ahem – BABY STEPS with POSITIVE PURPOSE!
I realized that although I had a purpose before, I didn’t have a true system for taking purposeful steps in the direction I wanted to go. So, the baby steps I was taking were, in fact, bullshit because they weren’t working. Once I dove into the philosophy of Kaizen, I realized why and how I can shift baby steps to my advantage – which I now also do for my coaching clients as well.
Here’s what Kaizen’s continuous improvement looks like:
- Standardize: Taking a look at your current workflow and create a standardized process that is organized and repeatable. Don’t let this freak you out. You’re already doing it – you just need to write it down and maybe rearrange it a bit.
- Measure: Examine the process and determine if it is efficient or not. This is where all that data you’ve been collecting and hoarding away will come in handy.
- Compare: Take your measurements and compare them to your goals or requirements. Does the process save time? Does it take too long? Does it accomplish your desired end result?
- Innovate: Now’s the time to really put on your creative thinking hat and search for new, better ways to do the same work or achieve the same result. Look for smarter, more efficient routes to the same end-goal that boost productivity. Big or small, but preferably small so it’s faster and easier to implement.
- Standardize: Make those new awesome innovative ideas you just came up with your new standard, efficient and repeatable process.
- Repeat: Go back to the first step and start again. There is alway room for improvement.
To put this into more solid terms, the continuous improvement is all about changing the way you approach your work to determine what the better way to do your process is.
Real Life Example:
I have a client who is a brilliant writer. Problem was, he wasn’t writing his book like he wanted to. He had the goal of writing 1500 words per day and ended up writing none.
First thing we did was get him on a writing schedule where he would sit down to write for one hour a day. The trick was, we modified his daily goal down to only 50 words. This took the overwhelming pressure off of him to function at peak performance every day and allowed him to relax into this easy goal.
That started to work, but the one hour part was tripping him up, so I introduced him to the Pomodoro Method and he started working in 25 minute chunks of time. This worked for him until it didn’t. Then he noticed that he naturally started to zone out at minute 18, so he modified the timer to only 18 minutes with a 5 minute break. That got him sitting down and able to write 50 words in 18 minutes. Most of the time he wrote more than 50 words.
Then he took that same repeatable process and added another one on, so that he was writing for 18 minutes, taking a 5 minute break and then writing 50 more words for another 18 minutes.
Then he added one more 18 minute time block onto his process, which really started getting him into the writing groove.
He now does that daily – which gets him writing for 54 minutes plus 2-5 minute breaks for a total of 64 minutes and 150 words.
By creating a system for himself, he was able to make positive improvements and adjustments to get him into a groove that he felt good about and got him productive. He now takes this same model and replicates it several times a day, 18 minutes at a time and at the same time blocking off an hour on his calendar so he makes time in his schedule for it.
Because of this system, he is able to keep up with his goal of writing a book a quarter to help grow his business.
Continuing to improve your process with baby steps in this easy and positive way, you will bypass that little scared voice in your head that is afraid to move forward. By doing it with small positive improvements, that scared voice is silenced and every part of you can enjoy the process as you work towards your dream goal.
Think of something that you’ve been dreaming about doing and look at it a bit closer. What is one small action step you can make right now that will get you moving in the right direction and taking a step forward for what you want to create in your life? What does that look like for you?
Leave the commitment to yourself in the comments below to get the support you need to move forward.
P.S. If you need one-on-one support, now is the time. Schedule a call with me to see how I can help support you and your dreams.