改善 – Kaizen

It means improvement in Japanese. Generally, people use it to refer to continuous improvement principles. Things that get better every time. It’s a sort of thing that gets people into a Zen-like state. Manufacturing companies use it, technology companies use it, there’s even a business consulting firm named Kaizen. Great. Things get better every time and everyone’s happy. So what?

I watched the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi recently and it’s a great example of how this idea of improving oneself is something of a meditation. The story of the documentary follows Jiro, the aging owner of a sushi restaurant. The film is the story of his entire life and how it has been to keep making better and better sushi. It shows, as his restaurant has 3 Michelin stars, one of the highest honors any restaurant can receive. Granted, part of it seems to be at the expense of his family. Yet, there is this undeniable fascination in watching an expert work. The literal decades of practice creating something.

Plenty of people live life without even thinking as the world can easily consume ones drive and passion. Why is it that so few people actually end up finding their lifelong passion? Why is it that people cannot find something to continually improve? Why is it so difficult?

I used to envy those who had something to continually improve. Those people who, every day, got better and better. I thought of true artists. I have a job, I thought, not a passion. I compared myself against them and saw my shortfalls. No matter how much I might have changed, I couldn’t see how far I had come and rather focused on the literal billions of others who I kept looking at. It took some time, but I finally realized that wasn’t helping me and started looking back at myself.

So I went out and got a small notebook. I started taking notes, doodling in my notebook, writing out what I thought I do well and what I could improve on. Just for myself. It’s my own way of seeing what I’ve done, keeping in touch with what I want, what I need, and what I’ve done. It’s become a sort of meditation and one that I try to do daily. Am I any good at it? No, but at least every time I try I’m getting just a little better and that’s all that matters.

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