When I was young, my father would often take me to the cold Lake Michigan lakeshore. We stood there looking at the large lake, and he would say to me, ‘Kaizen.’ He would then strip down, run off the pier, and jump into the frigid water. I was awestruck.
As a young boy, I had no idea what Kaizen meant. It was never explained. To me, it just meant doing something difficult. Man-up. LFG. Grab your jock strap.
The actual Japanese philosophy of Kaizen is about taking what seems insurmountable and making it manageable. In a nutshell, it works by shifting your attention away from the vastness of the challenge at hand, and choosing to focus more on small manageable steps.
I had the concept down by the time I was in high school, washing dishes at a local restaurant after school. Every day after school got out, I rode my bike from school to the restaurant and got to work.
Some days, the morning dishwasher never showed up. This meant all the dishes from breakfast and lunch piled up until I arrived at 3pm. When I walked in, I saw mountains of dishes, all over, a seemingly insurmountable task before me. I put on my apron, said ‘Kaizen’, and got to work. I cleared one area, then went to the next. Then cleared that area, and went to the next. Before I knew it, the whole task was finished.
Kaizen was popularized in the business world. This philosophy is often associated with Toyota, the Japanese worldwide car manufacturer. They successfully achieved a radical overhaul of their entire business by focusing on Kaizen, which they translate as “good change.” Toyota workers are encouraged to suggest small improvements to any process. In fact, I’ve read they can halt production at any time if they get an idea for improvement.
Kaizen is also a perfect mentality for fitness or exercise. Too many people get an exciting idea to get in shape, but end up struggling to sustain it. Often, the problem lies not in their motivation to improve, but in over-committing themselves to a radically different lifestyle that can’t be maintained.
Instead, using the Kaizen approach, maybe start with one physical activity that interests you, and give it a go, just once. If you feel good about the exercise, make an incremental adjustment, like doing it once a week, then twice a week, then 3x, etc. When that routine starts to become the norm, then you can add a gym workout or a morning run to the mix. The idea is to set small, achievable goals you can knock out of the park. Eventually, your gradual progress will look like a massive improvement over your starting point.
This is where Zcash minor grants are also so effective. The idea is to get someone to take a first step toward making their idea a reality. So, if you have an idea for an application of Zcash technology or other approaches to financial privacy, give it a try. Even if it’s just part of a larger idea you have, you can get started today. The deadline to submit a grant is Monday, September 18. https://zcashcommunitygrants.org/
When your grant is accepted, how will you work on your project?
I’d suggest Kaizen. In fact, you’ll probably even enjoy yourself more, feeling that sense of accomplishment along the way, instead of just fixating on a finish line. So if you’re interested in building a Zcash project, this can be an excellent way to start making good change today. One small step at a time.