Kaizen – Change for the Better

Ponder this: why would anyone not want to improve something? What reasons can you think of? Perhaps a change is a subjective improvement. Changing the color of your bedroom wall, for instance. You might think making it blue is an improvement, while someone else thinks it should be green.

For the purposes of this article, we are going to assume that the change is arguably an improvement, which means you can make a strong case for it. Some things are obvious. Replacing a broken window is an obvious improvement to a vehicle or building. This article is about making things better than they were before, in some way.

And the goal for ourselves is to make that improvement a constant process.

Just Be Yourself

It's important to realize that just because you're making an improvement on something, that doesn't mean it was bad or broken before. It simply means it can be better. My 5th grade teacher, Mr. Martinez, would always tell me, "Poquito mas," or a little more, on every paper. And no matter how good I wrote it, he would say, "You can do better." He wasn't trying to be mean. He was trying to show that I could always do better.

Can be better does not mean not good enough. It just means it can be better.

So why not just be yourself? Why should you change who you are? I'm sure you've heard both of those in some form or another. Why change? Think back to who you were ten years ago. Five years ago. One year ago. You've changed. You have learned new lessons, experienced new things, taken in new information. There are mistakes you've made in the past you will never make again. There are some mistakes you will continue to make, over and over. The point is that you are different than who you were then. So change already happens, whether we want it or not. Why not choose what changes take place? Why not be in control of your own evolution?

Perhaps the most damaging piece of dating advice ever is just be yourself. Why do I say this? Because it always comes from someone who hasn't dated you. What if you're jealous, or clingy, or insecure, or controlling, or irrational, or inconsiderate, or rude, or abusive? Should you just be yourself?

Look, I understand what the maxim is trying to say. It means to be genuine. Don't be purposefully misleading. Don't play games. And I agree. Absolutely be genuine. But don't think that there aren't ways you could improve. Ways you should improve.

Constant Improvement

The core of Loricism is this: improve the self, improve ideas, improve the world. Big, small, the size of the improvement isn't as important as the constant act of improving. Constant progress, forward motion, towards something better than the current state. It's how you build momentum.

This is not a new concept. It's called kaizen in Japan, and it means change for the better. It's about a process of small, incremental changes. It stems from business and manufacturing processes in the post-WWII rebuilding of Japan. The principle can be applied to anything, however, and we find that it fits perfectly with Loricism's goals.

Evolutionary Change

Change doesn't always have to be sweeping, instant, or even a major overhaul. While this type of change is sometimes important, and what is needed to fix a major issue (especially sociopolitical), it's not necessary. Powerful change can be effected through small, incremental, adjustments.

One of the best benefits of incremental change is that you never feel like it's out of your reach. The farther off your goal, the easier it is to come up with excuses as to why you can't attain it. It can be so distant you can't ever picture yourself getting there. That's why it's important to break large goals up into smaller pieces, but I suggest you take that even further and make constant progress a habit.

What can you do for yourself today?

That's what I want you to focus on. Every little thing you do that serves your goal is progress, no matter how small or insignificant it seems. So do it. People blow off a small thing because they think it won't do anything, it won't matter. But if it's so small that it won't matter, it can't require that much energy to do, can it? So just do it. No sweat off your back. The thing is, though, that these things do matter. They add up. An avalanche is made up of billions of individual snowflakes. So what can you do for yourself today?

Image credit: James DeMers