Giorgio Delgado

On Improvement & Kaizen

January 28, 2017

One of my 2017 goals has been to live a healthier lifestyle. Since the new year, I've been attending a calisthenics class twice a week. The exercises we do are drawn out over long periods of time with very short breaks in between. The goal is to make you look and feel like this:

dead

All jokes aside, before I began my most recent session I reminded myself of something important.

To pace myself.

This got me thinking: Why don't I apply this very notion of pacing myself to other aspects of my life?

My impatience manifests itself in many ways. One of those manifestations is my desire to do things now. Or change now. Or stop now. The problem with this now mentality is that it's not based on realistic expectations. We are all humans and as such need time to change.

Gradual improvement is the basis for achieving anything.

Look at the Kaizen mentality. Kaizen is the foundation for Lean Software Development and many other surprising ways of achieving better results with less resistance.

Presenting radical change to any system strains it to its limits.

A good example of this is the Frog Metaphor. A frog dropped into hot water will sense the danger and jump out. A frog dropped into cool water, which is slowly heated, will not notice the danger in time and die.

So we too must beware not to scare or exhaust ourselves out of challenging goals. If a change you seek is a long and hard journey (but for the betterment of yourself), then you must be mindful to move patiently towards that goal.


Even things outside of our control are best tackled through a gradual approach. Consider addictions. A person with an addiction can't simply decide to cut off her dependency. That's why nicotine patches exist. They literally eliminate your smoking addiction in a gradual manner.

A gradual approach is also important when learning something new. Don't expect to master a subject immediately. And don't bite off more than you can chew by subjecting yourself to academic tasks beyond your realm of understanding. Break things down into small, digestible pieces that make learning something even as complex as rocket science fun.

This gradual mentality also helps one become more ambitious. The media is great at creating grandiose portraits of people without any reminder of the long path they took to get there. Don't think you cannot achieve what they did. By embracing who you are, and not letting the gap between your current self and your ideal self frighten you, then you can take small and unintimidating steps toward achieving massive goals.

Further Reading

Radical acceptance

Making Change: One Small Step