Are you exactly where you want to be in your life right now? Are you functioning at your full potential? If the answer is yes, then congratulations, this site may not be for you. If the answer is no, I think you should read on.
First, write down the answer to this question:
What are your limits? What is stopping you from living the life that you want to live?
My name is Salvador. I'm a doctoral student of physical therapy at Chapman University in California. I'm also a dreamer. I dream of success, of fame and fortune. I dream of achievement, recognition--I dream of creating art that touches people's hearts. Yes, my friend, I dream...and I dream big.
But dreaming is not enough. Action is the bridge between dreams and reality. If I wanted to live the life I wanted to live, I had to become a do'er. So I did.
I began to read. I began to implement. I began to improve. But then I plateaued. I began to hit my limits.
The improvements stopped, and I began to feel frustrated with my lack of progress. That is when I discovered kaizen.
Kaizen is the Japanese word for improvement. The idea of using kaizen in business can be traced back to Toyota's lean business strategy, whose finer details were embodied in Masaaki Imai's 1986 book, Kaizen: The Key to Japan's Competitive Success. In it, Imai focused on creating incremental improvements rather than giant leaps.
I decided I would apply the principles to my own life to see how they would work on a self-improvement level (as opposed to in a business setting). It worked.
I found that I was not just improving, I was thriving. I'm not going to lie to you--at one point in my life I was lazy, unmotivated, and entitled. Sometimes I still am. But the core ideas of kaizen and incremental continuous improvement have changed the way I view the world.
The realm of what's possible for me to accomplish and to achieve has changed drastically from the person I was before I set foot on this journey for habitual daily improvement. I don't doubt myself as much. I know my weaknesses, but I am able to create plans and actions for dealing with those weaknesses in a systematic, organized way. Most of all, I have ignited a ferocity of intent that drives my passion for my career, my love for my wife, and my endless curiosity for the best that this amazing world has to offer.
I want that for you. I want you to feel how I feel. I want you to stop saying that you were not born with talent, or genius, or funds, or whatever else you think is a prerequisite for success.
I want you to achieve whatever it is that you want in your life, because we only get one try at this.
Lewis Terman was a psychologist who followed the lives of 1500 high IQ children for decades in order to see how they would turn out, expecting them to have a high level of success in their chosen careers. Did they succeed? A few of them were highly successful. However, others lived normal, ordinary lives. Others were failures crippled by depression. Terman found that there really wasn't any correlation with IQ and success--the children succeeded just as much (or as little) as someone who was "less gifted". In fact, two children whose IQs were deemed too low to participate in the program ended up winning Nobel Prizes. Oops.
I was really moved by Angela Lee Duckworth's Ted Talk on her own study on success and achievement (see it here), in which she observed that grit and perseverance were better determinants of graduation than family income, standardized test scores, and perceived safety at school. The ability to view life as "a marathon, rather than a sprint", was something that gave kids an advantage. What excited me about this idea was that it wasn't something innate--grit was something that could be taught, practiced, and learned. The realization that we were the authors of our own stories inspired me to dedicate my life to improvement--not just for myself, but for others as well.
On one level, this website is a chronicle of my personal journey. More importantly (to you, anyway) I want this website to be a resource for others like me (or not like me), who are interested in taking control of their destiny. I want to help people stop complaining about what they don't have, and to realize that they have all the tools necessary to live a fuller richer life in their possession, right now.
Please take a moment to look over the 7 Principles that I have come up with in my path to living a kaizen life.
- Overcome Inertia
- Prioritize Habit Formation
- Understand the Mind-Body Connection
- Focus on High Yield Learning
- Consider Context
- Control Your Narrative
- Love the Journey
Focusing on these principles has had a transformative impact on my life, and I truly believe that they can do the same for you. This upcoming year, I will be providing articles, strategies, and exercises to flesh out each of these 7 principles.
So here it is, the call to action:
Start your journey. Right here, right now. Imagine what your life can be, and make it so.
You know those two questions I asked you to answer at the beginning of this letter? I want you to put the answers somewhere you can see them each day.
Type it up in big words and print it out. Tape it to the wall. Whatever you want. I put it on the back of my office door.
My goal is for you to rip up that paper by this time next year.
What I want is for you to have a new answer the next time someone asks you, "What are your limits?"
"Limits?" you'll respond. "What limits?"
To our future journey together,
Salvador Patrick Abiera