Kaizen and Coffee: Bitter and Sweet

Give yourself a little bit of sweetness to take the edge off the bitter.

One of the easiest ways to all but guarantee failure in an activity or endeavor is to approach it with an all of nothing attitude. Since most things worth doing are inherently difficult, we are bound to trip up and fall on the way to accomplish them. If we have an all or nothing mindset, any one of these small failures could end up being the thing that make us quit altogether. If instead we look for small steps of progress along the way, when we stumble, we will see that we are still ahead of where we were.

In Japanese culture, they refer to this principle of incremental progress as kaizen (改善). Kaizen is the process of making small changes within a system or organization that have a positive impact from the top down in an that system or organization. This principle can also be used to refer to small steps of progress in any area of one’s life that needs improvement. Small wins keep us motivated and moving forward.

We must set ourselves and those around us up for success, not failure, from day to day. The best way to do that is to set achievable and measurable goals that increase gradually over time so that every step step forward feels like a win. Celebrate the small wins as milestones of success. Life has enough harsh and bitter moments that we need not add to them unnecessarily with daily losses and failures simply because we were too far-reaching. Give yourself tiny little moments of sweetness and satisfaction so that you can approach the next challenge with confidence and passionate dedication.

-Robert Van Valkenburgh teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Kogen Dojo

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