11 books about kaizen for self-improvement

This is my reading list for books about applying kaizen principles in your life. I haven’t read them all, or in fact, very many of them at all. 

As I read and digest each of these books over the next year, I’ll write a more personal review.

For now, here are my top eleven books about kaizen for self-improvement, as recommended by my teachers, friends, and the internet. 

 

One Small Step Can Change Your Life — Robert Maurer

Amazon Description:One Small Step Can Change Your Life The Kaizen Way Robert Maurer book cover

Improve your life fearlessly with this essential guide to kaizen—the art of making significant and lasting change through small, steady steps.

Written by psychologist and kaizen expert Dr. Robert Maurer, One Small Step Can Change Your Life is the simple but potent guide to easing into new habits—and turning your life around. Learn how to overcome fear and procrastination with his 7 Small Steps—including how to Think Small Thoughts, Take Small Actions, and Solve Small Problems—to steadily build your confidence and make insurmountable-seeming goals suddenly feel doable.

The science is irrefutable: Small steps circumvent our brains’ built-in resistance to new behaviours. Throughout this book, Dr. Maurer also shows how to visualize virtual change so that real change can come easier, why small rewards lead to significant returns. And how great discoveries are made by paying attention to the little details most of us overlook. His simple regiment is your path to continuous improvement for anything from losing weight to quitting smoking, paying off debt, or conquering shyness and meeting new people. Rooted in the two-thousand-year-old wisdom of the Tao Te Ching—“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”—here is the way to change your life without fear, without failure, and start on a new path of comfortable, continuous improvement.

 

Success Habits: Kaizen – Improve Your Life and Become Successful by Taking One Small Step at a Time — Michael CeaserSuccess Habits Kaizen_Michael_Ceaser

Kaizen Ben’s Book Review:

This is a very small but fairly comprehensive guide to implementing kaizen in your life.

If you’re wondering why it’s so cheap, it’s because this book on kaizen only about 20 pages or so.

Perhaps it’s fitting that this little book on the basics of implementing kaizen is so small; it’s that first little step on your improvement journey. Plus, it won’t take you more than a couple of hours to read at most, so it’s an easy win. Hard to argue with the price too, as it’s only a couple of bucks. 

A solid start for anybody who wants a quick introduction to kaizen ideas in an hour or two. Would recommend. 

 

How to Set Goals with Kaizen & Ikigai — Anthony Raymond

Amazon Description:How to Set Goals with Kaizen & Ikigai Anthony Raymond

The truth is…80% of New Year’s Resolutions have failed by February. Why? Because people were never taught how to set goals properly. Most plans are never completed on time. And even highly skilled and dedicated professionals still struggle to accomplish goals and overcome procrastination.

The solution lies in understanding the innate psychological forces that conspire against us. We must become aware of these “mental traps,” which prevent us from getting things done.

What if I told you that the Japanese had solved this problem?

In this book, we’ll be introducing you to 3 concepts from Japan:

  • Hansei – The art of honest self-reflection.
  • Ikigai – How to find your “true calling.”
  • Kaizen – Goal achievement through incremental progress.

Each one of these techniques is a powerful goal-setting aid. But when combined, they can multiply your productivity by a factor of TEN and make your most ambitious dreams appear achievable!

When your personal life goals are in harmony with the challenges that lie before you, that’s when the magic happens. As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote:

“Of all the virtues we can learn, no trait is more useful, more essential for survival, and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge.”

Indeed, when your goals are properly aligned, there is much joy to be had in any challenge you choose to conquer.

 

Kaizen and You — Igor Popovich

Amazon Description: Kaizen and You Personal Success through Self Knowledge and Continuous Improvement_Igor Popovich

If you want to improve your life while becoming happier and more productive, then take the first step right now by reading this book. Anyone who thinks they don’t need to improve should also read this book to get to know the people who will defeat them in the game of life.

Who is running your life? It may seem a strange question to ask, and you may be inclined to answer automatically: “I am, of course.” However, when challenged to think about this question, the answer may not be so clear. Who is running your life? Is it you or your employer, government, friends and relatives, children or parents, or spouse? Maybe it is your fears and phobias, your lack of self-esteem and assertiveness, your lack of knowledge and experience, your poor ethics or poor memory, your ill health or constant debt? Are you running your life?

This book guides individuals to employ Kaizen’s principles – the famous Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement – in achieving personal success. It provides a step-by-step approach enabling you to start right away.

This book is about achieving positive, ethical results through constant self-improvement. KAIZEN (pronounced ky’zen) is Japanese for a philosophy of continuous improvement. It is about success based on one’s inner strength, which then expands outwards.

That one doesn’t have to be an individual; it could be a corporation, an institution or a whole society. Packed with fascinating quotations and insights, this book challenges readers to take control of their lives and take responsibility for the constant improvement of their personal and business achievements.

Atomic Habits — James Clear

Amazon Description:Atomic Habits James Clear

Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving–every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviours that lead to remarkable results.

If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves repeatedly, not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the status of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven method that can take you to new heights.

Clear is known for distilling complex topics into simple behaviours that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.

Learn how to:

  • make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy);
  • overcome a lack of motivation and willpower;
  • design your environment to make success easier;
  • get back on track when you fall off course;

…and much more.

Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about success and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits, whether you are a team looking to win a championship or an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress or achieve any other goal.

 

The Power of Habit — Charles Duhigg

Amazon Description:The Power of Habit Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business Charles Duhigg

In The Power of Habit, award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a full new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core,

The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, we can transform our businesses, communities, and lives by harnessing this new science.

 

Choose Yourself — James Altucher

Kaizen Ben  Book ReviewChoose Yourself - James Altucher

This book isn’t strictly about kaizen but it is about self-improvement and taking little steps towards achieving your goals — or choosing yourself, As James calls it.  

James Altucher’s show was the first podcast I ever listened to. I came across his blog while procrastinating at work and probably trying to figure out what to do with my life.

One way or another, it was through James that I found about the ideas of 1% improvement, kaizen, and a great many other helpful and life-changing advice. 

As books about kaizen go, this one doesn’t talk about kaizen much. But it does talk a lot about self-improvement and how to create the life you want, doing the things that you enjoy.

Choose Yourself takes you through some practical examples and anecdotes of kaizen in action; people choosing to get something more from life and going after it methodically, step by step, day after day, and eventually getting what they want. 

In Choose Yourself, James Altucher makes the argument that the world is changing and the jobs market will likely never look the same again. If anything, this is even more true post-COVID. All of the things that we were taught were “safe” options are under threat, and on top of that, the robots are coming to take our jobs. James says that it’s up to us to choose ourselves and use contemporary tools and channels to build the life we want, by serving other people.

Choose Yourself is a relatively short and cheap book, and I would advise anyone to read it, whether or not you are interested in kaizen or self-improvement. James is a funny and vulnerable writer, who has lived an interesting life and is not afraid to share it with the reader. 

 

Algorithms to Live By — Brian Christian

Amazon Description:Algorithms to Live By The Computer Science of Human Decisions _ Brian Christian

What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? What balance of the new and familiar is the most fulfilling? These may seem like uniquely human quandaries, but they are not. Computers, like us, confront limited space and time, so computer scientists have been grappling with similar problems for decades. And the solutions they’ve found have much to teach us.

In a dazzlingly interdisciplinary work, Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths show how algorithms developed for computers also untangle very human questions. They explain how to have better hunches and when to leave things to chance, how to deal with overwhelming choices and how best to connect with others. From finding a spouse to finding a parking spot, from organizing one’s inbox to peering into the future,

Algorithms to Live By transforms the wisdom of computer science into strategies for human living.

 

The Tipping Point — Malcolm Gladwell

Amazon Description: The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behaviour crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.

 

Outliers — Malcolm Gladwell

Amazon Description:Outliers Malcolm Gladwell

In this stunning book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?

He answers that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way, he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

Brilliant and entertaining, Outliers is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate.

 

Understanding Variation — Donald Wheeler

Amazon Description:Understanding Variation The Key to Managing Chaos_Donald Wheeler

We live in the Information Age, and much of that information comes to us in the form of numbers. But before numerical data can be useful, it must be analyzed, interpreted, and assimilated.

Unfortunately, teaching the techniques for making sense of data has been neglected at all our educational system levels. As a result, through our culture, there is little appreciation for effectively using the volumes of data generated by both business and government.

This book can remedy that situation. Readers report that this book has changed how they look a data. It has turned arguments about the numbers into a shared understanding of what needs to be done about them. These techniques and benefits have been thoroughly proven in a wide variety of settings. 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Tom Hermans for sharing his photo with me via Unsplash.