One Simple Change for a Lifetime of Results: The Kaizen Way

Kelly Croy Productivity Speaker Writer Artist kaizen

The Kaizen Way is a concept that I believe can dramatically impact your personal and professional life without stress, guilt, and anxiety. It’s simple and effective. It leap frogs fear and procrastination and gets results. 

I recently asked a friend if he had any resolutions for the new year and he replied, “Yes, I plan to do one push-up a day.”

I smiled, knowing there had to be more to the story, and I asked, “One? That’s a bit small isn’t it?”

My friend then introduced me to the concept of the Kaizen Way. He explained to me that when he gets down on the floor to complete his one push-up for the day that he always does a few more than just the one.  He doesn’t overthink what he has to do. He doesn’t worry about how he is going to fit three sets of forty pushups into his schedule, or anything like that.  He just gets down on the floor and does his one push up aiming for improvement.  It’s simple. It’s neat. It works.

This is a new area of focus for him. He doesn’t already have a massive amount of upper body strength, so doing some pushups every day of the year will be a big boost. The word “kaizen” is the Japanese word for improvement. It was once poorly applied in the workplace as forcibly making employees discover and apply constant improvement, all the way from the head of the company down to the newly hired, to a point of creating a work environment of stress and undue pressure. Kaizen, or constant improvement is a great concept, but I like my friend’s version better because it eliminates the stress and allows the participant to self-assess and reflect on how deeply to apply the improvement. This contemporary version of The Kaizen Way is personal and enchanting. In essence, the Kaizen Way asks you to take one small step each day to make an improvement in your life. 

I decided to try this concept of the Kaizen Way in my own life. You see I own a guitar, but I do not know how to play it. I have always wanted to learn. I have thought about lessons, and books, and YouTube videos, and other educational tools, but success always eluded me. 

Why haven’t I been able to learn anything on the guitar? Easy.  I haven’t really tried. The process itself stops me cold: get the guitar out of the closet, take it out of the case, use the tuning app on my iPhone to tune it, start the lesson, practice, put it all away, etc. No wonder I have never learned even a little bit of how to play the guitar. The key of course has been to simplify the process and redefine what I need to do.  Yes, this is a mind trick. 

This year I applied the Kaizen Way to my desire of learning to play the guitar. I decided I would learn to play just one chord a day. Just one chord. That’s it.  Guess what happened?  In a matter of a few weeks I have learned a couple of chords! They aren’t the greatest sounding chords in the world, but it is more than I have learned in my entire life of owning that guitar due entirely to my friend’s simple explanation of this Kaizen concept. 

Five Steps to Building Leadership in Your Organization

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Low productivity and morale can surface within any organization, and it’s really not that difficult to get everyone back on track. Every workplace is different, and there isn’t always a one-method-fixes-all solution. In this post I’m offering five great techniques to implement to get your organization from complaining to leading.

1) Show You Care: If you want to end morale issues in your organization and build leaders, then you need to build a rapport with your team. When you show your team kindness, that you care, and develop a genuine and consistent rapport, morale issues will fade. In its place, you will find team members looking out for one another, representing your agency with pride, and leadership at every transaction. Show you care.

2) Provide Leadership Opportunities: A lot of people read leadership books, watch clips on leadership, and talk about leadership, however, they don’t always put to action what they’ve read, heard, or discussed. If you want your organization to be full of solid leaders, you have to provide team members with leadership opportunities.  That’s right, you have to give them the authority to lead. You can’t expect a perfect outcome either, and I suppose that’s why a lot of people are afraid to let others take the lead on a project, but that is what it takes to build leaders, genuine opportunities and responsibilities. You can always sit a distant second-chair or check-in and let them know you can mentor and counsel, but you have to allow real opportunities with real consequences. You will be happy with the short term results, and you will be elated with the long-term impact on your organization. Provide leadership opportunities.

3) Take Action: The biggest morale buster in any organization is when committees are formed, meetings are held, and surveys are taken and then there is no follow-up or action.  It’s frustrating.  You might as well send a handwritten note to each member saying, “I don’t care what you think.”  Yep, it’s that bad.  If you ask for someone’s feedback, honor it.  Even if you can’t provide what they’ve requested, let them know that the feedback was important and it helped shape the outcome. Let them know they are important. When they offer feedback that you don’t like, don’t go to their supervisor trying to “get to the bottom of it” and smear some make-up over the blemish. Be thankful that they were honest and upfront. Don’t surround yourself with people who only tell you what you want to hear.  Leaders take action.

A List of The Most Influential Books to Read

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I love to read.  I’m one of those people that has more books than I have time, yet I always reserve a portion of my day for reading. Reading is my workout for my brain. 

I have a stack of books that I am looking forward to reading later, a list I am reading now, a wish-list of books to checkout and I am always adding to my “books to read” list in my journal from the recommendations of friends and people I admire.

I am thankful for my middle school English teacher, Mrs. Romick for providing me with a list of books that made me fall in love with reading. I am thankful for my mother for being a great model of the importance of reading. I am thankful for my father for surrounding me with good books. Books change lives.

I wanted to share with you a list of books that I believe are life-changers. I have read every one and recommended them to others many, many times. Perhaps you can add them to your list or order a copy as a gift for a friend. Books are wonderful.

Christmas Presentation for Your Organization: All Dates for 2015 Will Book Fast!

Kelly Croy Christmas Presentation Speed Art brought to life with computer animation best funny inspirational

Is your organization looking for a dynamic Christmas presentation?

My name is Kelly Croy and I am a speaker and speed artist. I would like to share a wonderful Christmas Chalk Art Presentation with you.

My presentation is powerful and fun. It combines the raw energy of a live performance, the astonishment of speed art, the beauty of an artistic masterpiece, a powerful musical score, the inspiration of a masterful storyteller and the magic of literally bringing the art to life with computer animation. Yes, the art will come to life right in front of your eyes. 

October is Bully Prevention Month: Here’s a Tool to Help

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October is bullying prevention month. In truth, as a educator, I know every month is, but this is the month that we try to bring national and global attention to solutions that help those impacted by bullying.

I am proud that schools invite me each year to speak and share my art to help students, educators, and families take action to reduce bullying.  I wish I could share my message to every school; I believe it makes a difference. I recently shared my art and words with 1400 students and staff at Perrysburg Middle School in Perrysburg, Ohio. It is always a joy talking with teachers and students about the importance of leadership.  In this particular presentation I was asked to kickoff the schools Owelus Bullying Program to help build leadership within the classes. It was a great day.