It was a Saturday morning and we finally had a break from my son’s summer baseball schedule. As hubby and I kicked up our feet and settled in for some well deserved channel surfing, our eight-year-old came out dressed for tae kwon do practice. “I have to get to class today. Belt testing is next month.”
Kaizen is an often used word that comes to mind when I think of my 8 year old’s determination to improve at Tae Kwon Do and in life. It is Japanese in origin, dates back to the days of Japanese warriors, and is used today by successful business organizations and individuals committed to continual growth..
Literally translated, Kaizen means “good change”, but over the years has morphed to also represent “continual and constant improvement”. Those who embrace the kaizen philosophy are committed every day, even on those lazy Saturdays when channel surfing seems more appealing. And the American love of instant gratification (think “spray tans” and “weight loss pills”, as just two examples) don’t have a place.
My 8 yo has been working toward her blackbelt since she put her first white belt on two years ago. She trains 5-6 times a week and pesters her dad to work out at home. Every 4-5 months she proudly replaces her belt with a new, higher ranking one. And, at the pace she has set she will wrap that blackbelt around her waist in about 12 more months. Three years of hard training for an 8 yo seems like a lifetime. But she doesn’t see the mountain in front of her. Instead, she sees the day she has and what she can do towards her goal right now.
What is it that you want to improve today? Your goal may be big, or small, but the kaizen process to success is the same. Make a commitment to learning/doing something toward that outcome right now, effecting a little more “good change” every day. Eventually, over time, you will hone your skills and gain the experience, wisdom and knowledge you need to reach your goal.