Kaisen – slow steady steps to massive success

“That’s one small step, one giant leap for mankind”

Neil Armstrong

I often hear clients ask the question: “Why has it taken me some time or a couple of sessions to get to my goal?”

Green coloured left foot

Green coloured right foot





Usually, I explain that we take a series of small steps to get to where we want to go so that we can integrate the change as we go along. Otherwise the change that the body and the mind would need to make would be so big it would be overwhelming and we would give up half way through.

This resonates with a Japanese concept called Kaisen which means small steps for continual improvement. And I can recommend a book called One Small Step Can Change Your Life by Robert Maurer that explains how it works.

Basically our fight-or-flight mechanism is located in our mid brain in the part that is called the amygdala. This is a very clever part of the brain that protects us from danger and is critical to our survival. However, it is also the part that does not like change so we have to initiate change that slides under the amygdala’s radar. The amygdala gets triggered every time we try to make a departure from our usual safe habits and routines.

Maurer explains it quite simply in the following few words:

 Large goal > Fear > Access to cortex restricted > Failure  

 Small goal >Fear bypassed >Cortex engaged >Success 

* cortex just means the thinking part of our brain

It just means doing things in a small way and the results are amazing. There have been huge successes in manufacturing, industry and business.

So having understood the science behind it, I wanted to test it out for myself. And I am doing this in two ways. The goals and objectives I set both for work and my personal life are still good but I am choosing to be a little more realistic in the way I do them. Gone are my lists of what to do, instead I have replaced this with a new way of thinking,”What one thing could I do today to achieve by dream or goal?” I feel a lot less pressure and lighter thinking this way.

The second thing I am doing is working with a Kaisen Creativity Coach. We are just at the start of the process but already it feels good. In areas of resistance I am asked what it would be like to let that resistance go for say 10 seconds. I can gradually increase the time. This helps to tame my amygdala.

There are loads of uses I can apply it to such as exercise, healthy eating, work, studying. So I don’t need to create this huge goal any more but I can do it little by little and this feels hugely liberating! Maybe worth giving it a go!




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