The Kaizen Principle for Life

While out for a short walk, I could see frustrated and stressed out faces and thumbs pecking at blackberries as they hurried by. No one was casting their eyes skyward to marvel at the flock of geese, flying in a peaceful and flowing formation. Nor did they gaze upon the flowering blooms, spilling color from grey concrete containers. Least of all, they did not stop to bath in the aroma of the coffee beans drifting from the store onto the street. These people were so consumed in their stressed induced lives that they couldn’t experience all the murmurs of life around them.

Alas, how can we remove this clutter and begin to feel the senses of the life around us. Change can be hard, yes I know. But, change begins when you begin to change. And, to progress toward the more simple things in life you only need to lean on the Japanese kaizen. The developer of this principle is Masaaki Imai. His principle states that small incremental changes will lead to productivity improvements and the minimization of waste. In this regard, if we embrace kaizen, we embrace small changes in our behavior that in turn lead us to improve our outlook and minimize the complexity in our lives. This principle is at the heart of the Japanese manufacturing sector and the one principle that has made it such a strong force in the world economic order.

So what is kaizen?

Kaizen is simply:

  • To consider the process and results
  • To view the entire process and evaluate the way to get the job done
  • To blame no one and choose the best process

The principle is rudimentary and simple at best and has led to dramatic improvements to Japanese manufacturing by reducing waste related to inventory (Where do you think just-in-time delivery originates?) and work-related processes in manufacturing. Effectively, it does a one-upmanship on Ford’s assembly line. These improvements lead to better utilization of space and lead directly to improvements in product quality. And, of course, all these improvements lead to happy workers.

Now that you understand kaizen in the business context, let me tell you how it can help you in getting simplicity back into your life. First, by taking time to consider how you’re doing something in relation to why you’re doing it will give you valuable insight to the situation you find yourself in. Secondly, by looking at the way you’re doing things in the broader context will help you evaluate how best to really get things done.

Okay, you have lots of work to do, so you have to use your blackberry to keep in contact and keep on top of things. But, do you need to be tied like a tether to your work 24/7? You may think you do, but in reality you actually don’t. Most often you only need to be connected. Yes, but not at all costs. The point is to be connected in an accessible way. When you recognize this difference you can then evaluate other ways you can be connected. Is it not better to have a pre-determined time that you connect? This will allow you to devote the right level of attention to the task at hand and give people the confidence that at this time you’re engaged?

Finally, blame no one and choose the best path. In this instance, the best path is to plan your engagement. This will allow you to be focused and this focus will free you to enjoy the murmurs of life.

Life is only as complicated as we make it. By resisting the temptations of others perceptions of us we can leverage kaizen to better control and experience our journey through life. This approach will give you the confidence to simplify how you view things and to make the changes you need to move forward.

Have you done your kaizen today?

Feel free to share your answer in the comments.

Other Time Trading Gurus


Diane Mottl, MSW presents Daring to dream… posted at Being Truly Present, saying, “Out of the comfort zone, my confidence building, I was not prepared for the back slide into the fear zone…(post includes Inknowation video, quotes & links)”

Jana presents How To Create More Time posted at Wisdom Ink, saying, “Time is something that is always available to us but that many of us forget to ‘tap’ into. Creating time is as easy as aligning yourself to the belief and perspective that you always have more than enough, and here we show you how to do it. Many are surprised that they can take on more work and responsibilities and still have more than enough time for themselves.”


ebele presents Are you feeling uninspired and stuck? How doing nothing can win you a Nobel Prize posted at Street-side convos, saying, “How to turn periods of rest and doing nothing into the most productive time of your day”

Matt Barnett presents Are you Open for Business? – Matt Barnett – Expert in Personal Change posted at Matt Barnett – Expert in Personal Change, saying, “What are your opening hours? do you operate 24 x 7 without a minute to yourself? maybe its time to take a lesson from the high street and get used to turning your shops sign to ‘closed’ if even only for a moment”


Stacey D presents 9 Steps To Running A Fun And Successful Home Business posted at The Traveling Vineyard, saying, “Knowing the necessary steps to successfully start and maintain a thriving business helps you set goals for the future. The proper foundation makes it possible to achieve your dreams in the future.”

DREAM Process

Sarah Bernstein presents Meditation Schmeditation - posted at YourZenFriend, saying, “This is a funny and encouraging look at a meditation practice. Balance your relationship with your mind!”

Jim Jones presents For Increased Career Satisfaction, Identify Your Purpose posted at Critical Financial, saying, “What is it you want out of life, identify your purpose and it will become clear!”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
work life balance and goal setting using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Zeno and the Path to Flexibility

It was a serene morning as I sat in the Muskoka chair, feet resting at the pool’s edge and my tea nestled between my laptop, notebook and pen on the wide-edged arm rest. A slight breeze was rustling the leaves above me and our chocolate Labrador retriever was snoring quaintly beside me. This was a decompression day. The week before was one of chaotic stress. I realized I needed a change and this day was the time I was taking to regain my perspective and to chart a new course.

I didn’t want to run away from my situation; rather, I wanted to run to something. As I sipped the hot tea I began to remember my favorite philosophers, hopefully, I thought, their infinite wisdom could guide me today.

Then it happened. Finally, I had a reference point. It was Zeno of Citium. He came from Cyprus to begin a school in 300 B.C. which became the philosophical preference of many Greeks and non-Greeks alike. Better known as stoics, they stressed the interdependence of physical, ethical, and logical divisions in life. Destructive behavior emanated from errors of judgment or perceptions and that if one lived with “moral and intellectual perfection” he wouldn’t suffer such distorted and damaging perceptions. The stoics believed that these principles were a way of life and that fulfillment comes from not what a person says, rather how he behaves.

So, here it was. It was my behavior that I needed to change in order to change the direction my life had taken. These were comforting thoughts, as I my behavior was seemingly the only thing I could control these days, despite the challenges I may have been facing.

The stoics believed that the development of self-control and fortitude to manage one’s perceptions is the means to eliminate distorted thoughts. And I held many distorted thoughts, but a least I had recognized my failings and took the day to rebalance my thinking.

Training our minds to become logical allows us to understand the universal reason behind our perceptions. Embracing this philosophy provides a calming influence within a busy world. It allows us to see the world and perceive it in an empowered way. It opens the door to the awareness of ourselves and to understand what we can and cannot control.

So, what I needed to do was to be honest and truthful to myself about my situation and what I needed to do to realize my real goals.

Zeno helped me to remember that the only thing we have power over is ourselves and how we choose to react to the influences around us. If we choose to take an introspective look at our perception, we can decide to remain cheerful and tranquil despite the situation we find ourselves in. It’s inherently a wise art of living and one that gives us the power to understand and manage our perceptions.

So what did Zeno teach me? He taught me to question myself, not judge myself. He taught me that I, alone, control how I wish to react to all that is around me. He taught me that finding peace within myself will free me from irrational fears. And, finally, Zeno taught me to live with challenges and take advantage of them, not to be overwhelmed by them.

As I drank the last drop of tea, I finished writing an email addressed to my network of colleagues and friends asking them if they knew of any opportunities in my area of interest. And for the first time in long time, I could feel a warm smile form on my face.

At last I was at peace.

Have you listened to Zeno lately?

Feel free to share your answer in the comments.

Other Time Trading Gurus


emily nolin presents Giving Up The To Do List posted at emilynolin.


Amelia Thio presents How To Manage Your Full Time Work With A Part Time Business Without Losing Your Personal Life posted at Amelia Thio.

Chris Dame presents Minimalism is scary! 6 minimalist fears and how to cope with them posted at Carry Everything On, saying, “Minimalism is key to keeping focused on the right goals in life, but it’s scary to actually do. Here’s how to cope.”

Jon Rhodes presents Surround Yourself With Positive People posted at Affiliate Help!, saying, “This article shows you why it is important to have positive thinking people in your life if you want success.”


John Schmoll presents Taking the Plunge: Is the Grass Always Greener? posted at Frugal Rules, saying, “When you run your own business, part of you never knows what is around the corner. You have to be able to look at opportunities that arise as they can often help you grow professionally as well as grow your business.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
work life balance and goal setting using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

How to Kick Yourself in Gear

Procrastination is a trait for the feeble and weak. It is a slow mutating disease that eats away at our potentiality in life. It feeds on itself like a cancerous tumor, encroaching on everything around it and stymieing the growth of our living being. To begin to live life, you must resist the urge to block yourself from moving forward. Find the courage to set aside your fear and apprehension to take the necessary step forward.

It is far too easy to find excuses and then to use them as a force to stop ourselves from acting on a desire. Our minds act very much like gas in a bottle. We have the means to ignite passion, but rarely do we use it. It’s important to seek out a spark to ignite the passion. The feeling it gives us will provide endless fuel to reach our passion and beyond. It’s just that we have to ignite the passion first. And we can’t ignite this passion without motivation.

Motivation is in itself a complex phenomenon as it’s unique to each and every one of us. What motivates me may not motivate you and vice versa. There are many motivation theories that try to explain this key human behavioral aspect. We have two key levels of needs, our personal or primary needs, and our psychological or secondary needs. Our primary needs are those biological behaviors that we can’t do without; food, water, safety, and so on. Our secondary needs, however, are largely determined by our experience. We have needs or desires for achievement, power, relationships, and so forth.

There’s a guy name Abraham Maslow who defined need as a physiological or psychological shortfall that needs to be satisfied in some way. Tension created by this deficiency influences our attitude and behavior.

Maslow ranked our needs in five categories and in order of precedence. A need at any given level can only be satisfied after the lower level need is satisfied. We must first satisfy our physiological needs before we can satisfy the higher order needs. In the work context we become more focused with satisfying our higher order needs as our careers progress. This is why motivating ourselves to reach our goals is so essential to our well-being.

Find the energy to kick yourself into gear, get motivated, and reach for your dreams.

Are you ready to take the step?
Feel free to share your answer in the comments.

Other Time Trading Gurus


Ken Lange presents Ben Franklin: 5 Tips for an Effective Day posted at Kenneth Lange.

Diane Mottl, MSW presents Living an authentic life posted at Being Truly Present.

Bryan Chau presents Tips For Succeeding In Life – SuccessPenPal posted at Success Pen Pal – Bryan Chau.


Jana presents How To Master Our Finances By Mastering Ourselves posted at Wisdom Ink, saying, “How much money one earns and keeps is a direct reflection of their inner state of being on this topic. Read here to discover more deeply how mastering ourselves can support us in mastering our finances.”

John Schmoll presents How to Invest in the Stock Market With Little Money posted at Frugal Rules, saying, “Many believe that you need to have a lot of money before you can begin investing in the stock market. That, however, is a myth. By starting out with a little, you can begin to develop your investing discipline, but you also begin your path to growing wealth sooner.”

DREAM Process

Jessica Clark presents 7 Strategies for Forgetful Folks posted at Kenney Myers, saying, “From remembering where you put your keys to keeping a mental note of your grocery list without leaving an item out, it’s not always easy to remember the details of everyday life in such a hectic, fast-paced world. Some people tend to be more forgetful than others, though, potentially causing stress and anxiety when important tasks and items fall to the wayside.”

ebele presents John Maxwell broke my heart :( posted at Street-side convos, saying, “Sharing about my meeting with leadership genius John Maxwell and on rejection as an opportunity for self improvement rather than an excuse to give up.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
work life balance and goal setting using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.