Many years ago, in my previous life, I was an Industrial Engineer. This engineering discipline involves matching technical applications to improve manufacturing processes and profit. (yaaawwnnn) Years later, when teaching a college course in manufacturing continuous improvement, I discovered that many of the concepts had their roots in zen teachings. Capitalism influenced by spiritual practice. What?
In the 80s, Japanese auto manufacturers stormed the North American market with vastly superior quality cars. So how did a tiny nation decimated at the end of the 2nd World War rise to global manufacturing prominence in just a few decades? Attitude.
Sakichi Toyoda, the owner of a small Japanese car company, faced the challenge of making cars with limited resources. Waste of any kind was not just inefficient but a threat to their existence. Toyoda accepted that change was inevitable and that an attitude of continuous improvement was the key to the survival of Toyota Motor Company.
He called this process: Kaizen
'Zen' - virtue/goodness.
Change is Good
This upstart Japanese car maker adopted zen principles of impermanence and applied them to manufacturing and kicked the US car makers in their complacent butts.
Kaizen embodies several different processes, most of which can be applied to improve your personal life.
One of my favourites is the "5 Whys". If you ever want to get to the root of a problem, this is it. Ask yourself "why" at least five times, and you'll be shocked at the honesty of this process.
Why? - I said terrible things to my partner
Why? - we had a fight
Why? - I didn't like what they said to me
Why? - It made me feel insignificant
Why? - My mother used to say that to me
So it's not my partner but my 5-year-old self feeling threatened? Yikes!