All change occurs through the taking of action. And if we weren’t afraid, we would change our lives effortlessly. We would simply identify what it is we would wish to experience and do what needs to be done and thus experience that manifestation. So why is it not that easy?

Whether it’s wanting to better your work relationships, your career, your family life, your personal life, your health, your children’s education or you’re an organisation such as Nissan and you have a new product to put to market – it all requires action. Otherwise if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got, we’ve all heard that phrase before but that’s because it’s true. What often occurs in that process of manifestation is that individuals or companies set goals that are simply too high and the steps they take too large and so they either give up easily or the return from their efforts falls well short of their expectations. In industry this may involve a financial loss and hardship where more problems are actually created rather than solutions found and implemented. Thus the action to move forward is abandoned or regularly halted as the size of the steps causes too much pain.

I was introduced to “Kaizen” by Dr Robert Maurer  in 2010 through a friend who works on the NHS as a Clinical Psychologist, who also shares a passion for self-development. I had heard of the principle “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and it was one which I had already been using but I didn’t know just how powerful the little steps were. That quote is taken directly from the book the Tao Te Ching (or “The Book Of The Way”) written by the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu in approximately 500BC, but it’s exact translation is something more akin to mean “a thousand miles to be travelled, starts with a foot (being placed) down”. The focus being on the placing of the foot, and the action as something that arises naturally from stillness – with no wanting, simply being…

Kaizen encompasses many aspects but one is simply that the daily taking of small but positive action creates significant momentum and once that inertia has been created then the continuation of small steps is something that promotes constant improvement and ease. The reason is that these small steps produce very little fear if any at all, so creating harmony as opposed to larger steps which are very fear inducing. The approach has been adopted by many multi-national companies such as Toyota where “the culture of continual aligned small improvements and standardization yields large results in the form of compound productivity improvement. Kaizen methodology includes making changes and monitoring results, then adjusting. Large-scale pre-planning and extensive project scheduling are replaced by smaller experiments, which can be rapidly adapted as new improvements are suggested.”

It’s the classic tale of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady does it every time…