June 5, 2018

改善 (Kaizen) – Improvement

Lean production processes made famous by Toyota and the books describing their kaizen philosophy have become mainstream in the business world, as well as within personal growth teachings.

Success gurus including Tony Robbins and Jack Canfield describe how the path of mastery includes a commitment to the CANI principle: Constant And Never-ending Improvement.  While the term improvement needs further explanation, the way we implement these improvements is multi-dimensional.

We can look for ways to improve almost every aspect of our lives.  One significant improvement could be in the way we rise from sleep.  The way we wake up sets the tone for the rest of our day.

Hitting the snooze button and negotiating against our better judgment for just a few minutes of sleep, followed by a scan through the news, e-mail, or social media while lying in bed signifies the least effective way for forging into a new day.  Choosing new ways to improve our waking routine could set about greater efficiency and effectiveness in every facet and personal endeavor.

The samurai of old were on a path of strict discipline and the community enforced a culture of accountability.  Just as Thomas Jefferson advised against ever letting the sun catching him in bed, so too did the samurai rise before daybreak, regardless of the sake they had consumed or the time they had expended in the pleasure quarters the night before.

Samurai awoke early enough to prepare themselves, their weapons, and the clothes of the day in order to set about the days’ tasks promptly.

As the samurai were chiefly concerned with territorial administration that included protecting and overseeing the farmers within their Lord’s land, so too did the warrior class work in accord with the cycles of the seasons and sun.

Professional warriors have a tradition of either launching or readying to defend against attacks in the time just before the dawn when lethargy is most prolific.  This is known as stand-to as it connotes standing ready to respond as the situation requires.

Fortunately, most people need not fear sudden assaults first thing upon waking, yet the value of streamlining the awakening process and getting into productive action more quickly creates a positive momentum that leads to tangible results.  The key to these potential benefits, like most other things in life, is expanding our situational awareness.

For this reason, I recommend starting the day with a psychic scan of the body immediately upon waking.  Doing this with the eyes closed is preferred yet not succumbing to drowsiness may require doing so with eyes open.  Bodily awareness and noticing the sensations in the body connects the consciousness to the movement of energy and for this reason, clarity of mind follows feeling in the moment while dropping any labels or judgments about the feeling.

This is also an opportunity for daily improvement.  Practice feeling the energy in the moment for the simple sake of awareness.  Drop the labels and drop the agenda.  Just feel and just be aware.

It is in this space of awareness that opportunities for improvement emerge naturally into consciousness and the further opportunity for choosing how to respond comes into being.

Awareness creates choice.  This is how to adopt a kaizen philosophy, one moment at a time.

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