Hormonal Sapiens

We place so much attention on our sapient side that we often overlook the real driving force: hormones.

It’s nice to feel like we’re in control of our thoughts and actions until we wake up one morning with our hormones out of whack and nothing really matters anymore.

The truth is that on some days, the quest for improvement, kaizen, career, dreams or self-actualization — whatever we call it — is mostly just a fight to control our hormones.

Figuring out what we can do to rebalance them when they get messed up. Uncovering what messes them up in the first place.

Learning how to talk down that ancient, anxious Ape inside. How to hype them up. Cheer them up. Give them a reason not to fling shit at the wall.

And that usually means getting out for some exercise, eating something healthy, and going to bed a little bit earlier. And laying off the fermented fruit for a bit.

But some days, Chimp just doesn’t want to be good. 

 

Build Your Boat

How many hearts were lost at sea?

Before we flew, we strung some old cloth to a bunch of dead trees, flung them in the ocean, and clung on tight. Fortunes were made and lost on the high seas. 

Many a maiden looked across the harbour, hoping to see the dove-white flash of a topsail on the horizon; their heart returned.

Most waited in vain. 

The thing about waiting for our ship to come in is there’s nothing we can do about it. We can gnash our teeth and wail and pray and beg, but that only makes us feel better about our helplessness.

Building a boat isn’t easy. It will take a long time, a year or two minimum. There will be many splinters and bruised thumbs and cursing along the way. Even if we finish it in time, there’s no telling that it will float.

And even if floats, that could spell the end for us.

We could drown, far away from where we began, wet and cold and alone and wishing we’d taken some navigation courses while we were building our boat.

But it sure beats waiting for your ship to come in.

 

 

 

Hurry up and Stick

Isn’t it terrifying that you know you could do it if you really wanted?

Deep down, we all know that if we put in the work — just that little bit every day for a long while — then whatever it is that we dream of would actually happen.

It’ll never look exactly how we imagine, of course. But often, it’s always worth the journey.

That’s the real reason behind every act of self-sabotage in my life.

It wasn’t the fear of failure. It was the fear that it might actually work, and then I’d have to actually do the work, and real people might actually hold me accountable for it.

All of that is rubbish. Ancient fear. It takes years of practice before we’re good enough to decide if we want to carry on doing it anyway.

Just pick something and stick with it for five years. No big deal.

The worst that can happen is you get better at it than most people.

And the best?

Well, I don’t think I need to tell you.

 

 

Before the dance

As a great pugilist once said, the fight is won long before we dance under the lights.

Just like the race is run a dozen different ways before we even cross the starting line. And the book is written over hundreds of early mornings, with words that are never read.

The training we do every day shapes our future.

What does your day prepare for you?

 

Kaizen Quotes

These are all the quotes I could find about kaizen and continuous self-improvement. They are mostly related to personal development and kaizen, but there are some about kaizen in the business world too. 

Lots are missing from some of my favourite books about kaizen for self-growth, which I will be adding as soon as possible.

In the spirit of kaizen, this post will be continuously updated with more kaizen quotes as I find them and improved with images and sharable stuff as and when I can. I will also attempt to verify who they are attributed to as much as possible.

My Favourite Quotes About Kaizen and Continuous Improvement

 

“Patience is a competitive advantage. In most fields, you can find success if you are simply willing to do the reasonable thing longer than most people.”
— James Clear


“Average ones compete with others. Great ones compete with themselves.”
— Vadim Kotelnikov


“We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.”
— Max DePree


“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
— Sir Winston Churchill


“I’m always trying to get better. There’s always room for improvement.”
— Cain Velasquez


“Kaizen is like a hotbed that nurtures small and ongoing changes, while innovation is like magma that appears in abrupt eruptions from time to time.”
— Masaaki Imai


“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”
— Vince Lombardi


“Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes.”
— Peter Drucker


“There are no big problems. There are just a lot of little problems.”
— Henry Ford


“Persistence, perseverance, and continuous improvement are the ingredients for forming a successful person.”
— Debasish Mridha


“The distance between number one and number two is always a constant. If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself and the organization gets pulled up with you.”
— Indra Nooyi


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but habit.”
— William Durant


“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
— Henry Ford


“Without change, there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
— William Pollard


“The largest room in the world is the room for improvement.”
— Author Unknown


“A relentless barrage of “why’s” is the best way to prepare your mind to pierce the clouded veil of thinking caused by the status quo.
Use it often.”
— Shigeo Shingo 


“Fall seven times. Stand up eight.”
— Japanese Proverb


“The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better and that nothing is ever complete.”
—Mark Zuckerberg


“There’s no limit to the possible expansion of each one of us.”
— Charles Schwab.


“The message of the Kaizen strategy is that not a day should go by without some kind of improvement being made somewhere in the company.”
— Masaaki Imai


“Never stop investing. Never stop improving. Never stop doing something new. Make it your goal to be better each and every day, in some small way. Remember the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Small daily improvements eventually result in huge advantages.”
— Bob Parsons


“The most dangerous kind of waste is the waste we do not recognize.”
— Shigeo Shingo


“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.”
— Joe Paterno 


“The Kaizen Philosophy assumes that our way of life – be it our working life, our social life, or our home life – deserves to be constantly improved.”
— Masaaki Imai


“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
— Vincent Van Gough


“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and starting on the first one.”
— Mark Twain


“The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.”
— E.J. Phelps


“Learning is not compulsory; it’s voluntary. Improvement is not compulsory; it’s voluntary. But to survive, we must learn.”
— W. Edwards Deming


“Where there is no Standard there can be no Kaizen.”
—Taiichi Ohno


“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
— Robert Collier


“Kaizen means ongoing improvement involving everybody, without spending much money.”
— Masaaki Imai


“Continuous improvement is not about the things you do well — that’s work. Continuous improvement is about removing the things that get in the way of your work. The headaches, the things that slow you down, that’s what continuous improvement is all about.”
— Bruce Hamilton


“If a company isn’t continuously improving then it is slowly dying.”
— Dave Waters


“He who rejects change is the architect of decay.”
— Harold Wilson


“Small daily improvements over time lead to stunning results.”
— Robin Sharma


“Kaizen and innovation are the two major strategies people use to create change. Where innovation demands shocking and radical reform, all kaizen asks is that you take small, comfortable steps toward improvement.”
Robert D. Maurer


“Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence, only in constant improvement and constant change.”
— Tom Peters


“You can’t do kaizen just once or twice and expect immediate results. You have to be in it for the long haul.”
— Masaaki Imai


“I don’t worry about maintaining the quality of my life, because every day I work on improving it.”
— Tony Robbins


“There’s no good idea that can’t be improved on.”
— Michael Eisner


“I’m never satisfied with what I do.
I always think I can do it a lot better.” 
— Michael Jackson


“The secret of getting ahead is getting started”
— Mark Twain


“Small actions are at the heart of kaizen. By taking steps so tiny that they seem trivial or even laughable, you’ll sail calmly past obstacles that have defeated you before. Slowly – but painlessly! – you’ll cultivate an appetite for continued success and lay down a permanent new route to change.”
— Robert D. Maurer


“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”
— W. Edwards Demin


“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
— Bruce Lee


“Sometimes, the best kaizen is no kaizen at all.”
— Jon Miller


“As you experience success in applying kaizen to clear goals like weight loss or career advancement, remember to hold onto its essence: an optimistic belief in our potential for continuous improvement.”
— Robert D. Maurer


“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” 
— Yogi Berra


“We conquer by continuing.”
— George Matheson


“The past does not equal the future…unless you live there”.
— Tony Robbins


“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.”
— Elon Musk


“Learn continually. There is always one more thing to learn.”
— Steve Jobs


“Something is wrong if workers do not look around each day, find things that are tedious or boring, and then rewrite the procedures. Even last month’s manual should be out of date.”
— Taiichi Ohno


“If you stop learning, you stop creating history and become it.”
— Vadim Kotelnikov


“One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.”
— Robert E. Quinn


“Success is a process that continues, not a status that you reach. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.”
— Denis Waitley


“There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”
— John F. Kennedy


“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. ”
— Pat Riley


“No company can afford not to move forward. It may be at the top of the heap today but at the bottom of the heap tomorrow, if it doesn’t.”
— James Cash Penney


“To make the quickest progress, you don’t have to take huge leaps. You just have to take baby steps and keep on taking them. In Japan, they call this approach kaizen, which literally translates as ‘continual improvement.’ Using kaizen, great and lasting success is achieved through small, consistent steps. It turns out that slow and steady is the best way to overcome your resistance to change.”
— Marci Shimoff


“The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.”
— Linus Pauling


“There are many experts on how things have been done up to now. If you think something could use a little improvement, you are the expert.”
— Robert Brault


“As you experience success in applying kaizen to clear goals like weight loss or career advancement, remember to hold onto its essence: an optimistic belief in our potential for continuous improvement.”
Robert D. Maurer


“Even perfection has room for improvement.”
— Ty Warner


“An open society calls itself open to improvement. It is based on the recognition that people have divergent views and interests and that nobody is in possession of the ultimate truth.”
— George Soros


“Excellence is a continuous process and not an accident.”​
— A.P.J. Abdul Kalam


“Never be so afraid of making mistakes that you stop taking action.
Kirtida Gautam


“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time”.
— Thomas Edison


“Excellence is not a destination; it is a continuous journey that never ends.”
— Brian Tracy


“Persons who reach the higher rungs in business management, selling, engineering, religious work, writing, acting, and in every other pursuit get there by following conscientiously and continuously a plan for self-development and growth.”
​— David J. Schwartz


“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
​— Thomas Edison


“No matter how good you get you can always get better, and that’s the exciting part.”
— Tiger Woods


“Change is inevitable… except from a vending machine.”
— Anonymous


“Society’s future will depend on a continuous improvement program for the human character. And what will that future bring? I do not know, but it will be exciting.”
— Neil Armstrong


“Control your own destiny, or somebody else will.”
— Jack Welch


“In terms of changes, the spiritual mentors teach me that I must not forget those relating primarily to improve myself.”
— Chico Xavier


“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
— Henry Ford


“Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.”
— Kim Collins


“If we’re really committed to growth, we never stop discovering new dimensions of self and self-expression.”
— Oprah Winfrey


“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
— Albert Einstein


“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”
— Benjamin Franklin


“An extraordinary life is all about daily, continuous improvements in the areas that matter most.”
— Robin Sharma


“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”
— Mark Twain


“Continuity of strategic direction and continuous improvement in how you do things are absolutely consistent with each other. In fact, they’re mutually reinforcing.”
— Michael Porter


“Everything can be improved.”
— Clarence W. Barron


“In order to be happy, human beings must feel they are continuing to grow. Clearly, we must adopt the concept of continuous improvement as a daily principle.”
— Tony Robbins


“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”
​—​ Henry Ford


“We are always pregnant with a truer version of ourselves.”
— Marianne Williamson


“The journey is never-ending. There’s always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what’s right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment.”
— Antonio Brown


“Improvement begins with ‘I’.”
— Arnold H. Glasow


“It’s a great thing about being a musician; you don’t stop until the day you die, you can improve. So it’s a wonderful thing to do.”
— Marcus Miller


“I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”
— Abraham Lincoln


“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
— Winston Churchill


Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you’d like to act.”
— Bob Dylan


“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”
— William Shakespeare


“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
— Charles Darwin


“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
— Winston Churchill

 

Car Wreck

Progress looks like a car crash in the rearview mirror. 

We catch a glimpse of it and think, “Wow, that was dumb.” 

Or, “Damn, that looked pretty bad.”

Or, “I hope that wasn’t my fault.”

Tempting as it may be, it’s important not to spend too long looking back, or we’ll end up in another one.

Eyes on the road ahead. Glad that isn’t you anymore. 

And just a little embarrassed that it once was. 

Press that pedal to the metal!

 

Keeping it up

Doing it once doesn’t make it easy.

It usually doesn’t get us where we want to go either.

Most diets fail because they are — by definition — short-term.

It’s one thing to throw three balls in the air and another thing keeping them up. One is playing. The other is juggling.

Our bodies are wonderful machines that can take a real pounding, as long as it isn’t over and over again. The same goes for our minds. 

Willpower doesn’t just grow on trees.

That’s why settling for the smallest step, the thing we know we can actually do every day for decades, is so much more powerful than any crash course, extreme diet, six-month shred, or late-night sprint. 

Don’t do twenty pull-ups one day and none the next. Do five every day until you can do them with one arm.

A little more patience gets us a lot further in the end. 

 

Lost Lines

There’s a monastery perched high in the Himalayas, where the monks spend all day making beautiful patterns in the sand.

Then just before tea-time, they brush them away.

They don’t even take photos.

There’s another monastery where the monks paint a circle every day, just to see how close they can get it to perfect.

They never do, of course, and all those paintings are burnt before the sun sets.

Art isn’t about perfect, and it’s not about forever, although our planet is littered with monuments to the contrary.

It’s nice to create for other people. And it’s probably more profitable in the long run. But we always win if we create for ourselves and focus on improvement, instead of being popular.

The person having the most fun is usually the one doing the creating.

If you just create for yourself and you do it often enough, pretty soon people will start turning up — just to see you having fun.

 

Making Time

Here’s something to help you get what you want today.

Whatever it is you want to get done, write it down. 

Then put it in your calendar or to-do list or a sticky note or your phone, and set an alarm or reminder at a reasonable time to do it. 

Most of the time, taking action towards our goals isn’t the hard part. The hard part is setting aside the time to do them.

When we don’t take the time for ourselves, we give all our time to other people. 

Take a bit of time now and make a little time later to something important for ‘Future You’.

You deserve a little ‘you’ time.

 

 

Empty yesterdays

Life’s great lessons have always been taught to music.

Sometimes these lessons are obvious. But often, they’re hidden deep in the third act or the bridge, where they leap out and smack you round the back of the head to make sure you’re still listening.

In The Music Man, it’s this:

“Pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.

Don’t delay the chance to make a little bit of progress towards your goal, however small it may seem.

It doesn’t have to be full. Just don’t leave it empty.

If you put in just a little bit today, you’ll end up with a very full tomorrow. 

 

Do yourself a favour

It was a long time before I understood what “Do yourself a favour” meant.

There’s a Past Ben and a Future Ben and Me.

For a long time, I didn’t give Future Ben much thought.

I knew about Past Ben, who I didn’t like very much because he was perpetually screwing Me over.

But Future Ben was smart and young enough to handle the consequences of whatever bullshit I wanted to do at the time; to pay this or that debt or worry or pay the price of whatever I wanted to do at the time.

One night a few years back, I had a dream about Future Ben and he was in a very sorry state indeed. And all he said was, “Why? Why did you do this to me?”

After that, I started to do little things to look out for Future Ben — doing him a little favour now and then — because he wasn’t getting any younger.

And sure enough, Past Ben started cleaning up his act, and I didn’t have such a mess to worry about.

And that just made it easier to do myself a favour more often.

 

 

Wikipedia was tiny

Today, Wikipedia has over 6,229,184 million English pages.

Tech companies and governments use it to source news, fact-check, and fight misinformation — despite despairing teachers everywhere. There’s even a copy of Wikipedia on the moon.

But in its first year, Wikipedia only published around 20 pages.

The gamechanger for them — letting other people contribute — almost never happened at all. But just a year after they’d made that one small change, they had 20,000+ articles.

When we’re on a journey and things aren’t going our way, it’s tempting to give up. But the gamechanger is often just a bit further down the path, around a corner where we can’t see.

A couple more steps forward, with maybe a small pivot, and life can change pretty damn fast.

Mind follows body

People think that to change your behaviour or reach your dreams, you have to change your mind. But that’s backwards.

Mindset plays an important part, but the truth is, when we change our actions first, our minds will follow. 

That’s why even a tiny behavioural change — like drinking a glass of water in the morning — can make us healthier. 

That one small action opens the door to dozens of other small but positive actions over the day. And over time, these all add up and move us closer to where we want to be, and who we want to be. 

We can’t talk ourselves into change, but if we act as if it’s already happened, our minds will quickly catch up.

Raising the bar slowly

The current high-jump record is nearly two and a half meters (8.13ft) — a superhuman leap. 

But when Javier Sotomayor took his first jump, he set the bar much lower.

Each round, he raised the bar a little, sometimes as little as a quarter of an inch. Jump by jump, he pushed his body slightly further from the ground, until eventually, he achieved something remarkable.

Set the bar too high and we’re bound to bump into it.

But if we focus on raising the bar just a tiny bit higher at every attempt, we can go higher than we ever thought possible.

How to Apply Kaizen in Your Life in 5 Easy Steps

Kaizen is a business philosophy and a powerful tool for achieving goals and personal growth. There are many books about kaizen for self-improvement but its often difficult to see how to apply it to your life

Here’s how you can apply kaizen to reach your goals in five simple steps:

1. Self-reflect to find your purpose

The first stage of using kaizen in your life must always be self-reflection. Self-awareness and mindfulness are the heart of kaizen philosophy.

Even if you already have a specific goal you want to achieve, it’s still important to reflect upon why and how you can get there.

Your goal can be as vague as wanting to ‘improve your life’ or as specific as wanting to run a marathon in under 3 hours, 3 minutes, and 21 seconds.

Ask yourself: What am I trying to achieve?

Then write it down.

This is your ‘purpose’ or (Mokuteki 目的).

2. Research to find your change agents

Once you have decided what you want, you need to understand who you have to be to get it. Find some examples of other people who have done what you want to do. There are always a few.

If your goal is so innovative that nobody has done it before, you already know your first goal: figure out how you could do it. There are many examples of people who have done something nobody else had done before, including things that nobody thought possible.

Once you’ve found someone who has what you want, write down some things they did to reach that goal. Ask yourself, “What kind of person does this?” “Who are they?” “What do they do?” as well as “What steps did they take?”

Now you know what you need to integrate into your life. These are your change agents — the habits of the future you.

If your purpose from step 1 was to ‘lose weight,’ you might research how other people have lost weight and find that they all changed their diet and exercised more.

If your goal is ‘being successful,’ your research may uncover that most successful people spend time learning how to do new things and, in particular, learn how to make the most of their time. These are also great change agents.

3. Break down your goal into small, achievable daily steps

Now you have your change agents, and you’re ready to break them down into milestones and small achievable daily steps. The trick here is making the steps so easy you can’t fail.

That could mean reading for five minutes a day or running five meters further each run or meditating for five minutes each morning.

If your goal is to lose weight and you’ve found the change agent ‘improve diet,’ find some ways to achieve that. There’s a lot of advice for doing this, but they all say to stop drinking sugar: Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Apple juice, milkshakes, lattes, etc.

These are tasty treats, and sugar is highly addictive, so it’s not going to be easy to cut them out. Start small. Very small. Leave a couple of sips at the bottom of the can. Then see if you can cut out one more sip every day or so until you’ve cut out that whole can.

The key to success is making a goal so small that you can’t fail to do it. If you think your goal is too small, it isn’t. Once you have it, write down exactly what you are going to do each day and at what time for maximum motivational effect. It will look something like this:

  • “I am going to walk for 5 minutes every evening after work.”
  • “I am going to do ten push-ups at 8 am every morning.”
  • “I am going to write a blog about cats in one hour every day.”
  • “I am going to take one less puff of every cigarette I smoke.”
  • “I am going to drink a glass of water as soon as I wake up every morning.”

For bonus effects, post a picture of your kaizen and tag someone you know well. And don’t say anything.

Don’t worry about all the other things you think you need to do, their time will come if you execute this properly. Focus on getting this one change nailed down.

4. Track and record your actions to actualize your progress

I’m not just banging on about writing things down because I’m a writer. It can have a potent neurological effect. Things become so much more real when you write them down.

When things are going on in your head, they’re going on behind your eyes, so obviously, it’s difficult to see them. Writing it down helps you to realize them. Sometimes, I’m scared of writing things down because then they’re more real.

Tracking your progress helps you achieve your goals. There’s a lot of reasons for this, not least because you’re writing things down and making them tangible. Whether that’s keeping a detailed personal journal, recording your food intake on an app, or simply marking off every day on a calendar that you complete a task, it all helps you towards your goals.

Tracking is how you become great at anything. But make sure it’s the right measure for your goals. That famous phrase goes, “What gets measured gets managed, even if it’s the wrong thing.”

5. Always look for ways to improve your actions

To do that, you need to practice self-reflection. The small steps are crucial for improvement, but they will take you in circles if you don’t spend time reflecting. Because if you’re not spending the time reflecting, you’re not being the kind of person who wants to reach that goal.

It seems ridiculous that something as small as trying to drink a sip less of each soda every day can change your life, but merely working towards this goal every day will have a knock-on effect.

Some days you will fail, but that’s still progress because it allows you to find out why. On those days you ‘fail,’ you get to ask, ‘why did I fail today?’ And answering that will take you a step forward too and may show you another area that’s holding you back.

For example, you may notice that you struggle to cut out sugar on mornings when you stayed up late the night before. If you want to achieve your goal, it turns out you must implement some changes to make sure you get a good nights sleep. You may find the key to giving up liquid sugar is not drinking caffeine in the afternoons.

After a little while of exercising your willpower muscle, you build confidence, and other ways to improve will open up and give you new avenues to pursue your purpose.

The point about kaizen is that it’s continual. Even if things seem to be going well, there’s always room to improve your method or system. It’s this ‘kaizen mindset‘ that’s so powerful because there is no way to fail. There is only pursuing improvement, or not.

With things like music or sports, you can always be better. And if you’re not practicing, you’re probably going backwards; just like you still need to brush your teeth, even if you brushed them the day before.

In a couple of years, when you rarely drink sugar and are pleased with how you look, you need to keep eating healthy and continue to optimize your diet and exercise habits to maintain it; to continue being the kind of person who isn’t overweight.

Applying kaizen in your life is so powerful because it changes who you are; you become someone who is always looking to improve. You are limitless because there is no ‘arrival,’ there is only ‘where next.’





Thanks to Darwin Vegher for putting this photo on Unsplash

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. 

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

Success 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. 

 

 

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. 

 

 

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.

 

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 is an Anglo-Japanese 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.

 

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.