A Publication of WTVP

Kaizen is the Key

Or as Dory from ‘Finding Nemo’ would say, ‘Just keep swimming’

by Amy Burkett |
Amy Burkett

If I shared the secret to success with you, would you take the necessary steps to achieve it?

You may be thinking, “I don’t know if I’m capable.” The answer is: You are!

Everyone is capable but not everyone chooses to put the effort into it. You don’t have to be super-talented, rich, highly educated or experienced. The secret to success is “kaizen,” the Japanese word meaning the uncompromising commitment to continuous improvement.

Masaaki Imai created the term. He was a Japanese management consultant who studied the Toyota Production System and its lean strategies. In 1950, a team of engineers from Japan came to America to take a close look at our automobile plants. The Toyota team expected to be impressed with the American manufacturing giants, but that wasn’t the case. They were shocked to find inefficiencies on the assembly lines.

They put “kaizen” into practice back in Japan at Toyota and set out to beat the U.S. at making cars. And they did. Toyota is the largest automaker in the world.

So how do you and I put kaizen into practice? It starts with a growth mindset. No matter how young or old you are, there’s always more to learn. By intentionally looking for ways to improve, you can develop a growth mindset.

If you don’t already have one, it’s really as easy as 1, 2, 3.

First, you must choose to stay humble. Here are some tips. Ask for feedback from others on a regular basis. Listen to them. Ask for help when you need it and be grateful for all that you have, whether you have a little or a lot.

Second, stay hungry (and I’m not talking about food). This is a hunger for progress. Get up a little earlier each day and think about what you want to accomplish. Dream about the possibilities in your life. I’m an avid reader. I don’t feel settled if I’m not reading something. As a leader, I can’t teach what I don’t know, so I’m always reading to learn more in order to help others achieve.

The third and final step to help you achieve kaizen is to realize there is no finish line. You never arrive. We’re running a never-ending marathon. When life gets overwhelming — and it often does — I channel that adorable little blue fish Dory from Disney’s “Finding Nemo” and tell myself to “just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”

Amy Burkett 

Amy Burkett is the host of WTVP’s Leadership Series, a multi-regional Emmy Award-winning journalist, author of “The 7D’s to Your Destiny” and a certified John Maxwell trainer, speaker and coach