The Most Powerful Word in an Entrepreneur’s Life

We all have challenges as entrepreneurs.  Sometimes we see money as the solution to our problems. kaizenBut, as the Notorious B.I.G. emphasized is his lyrics, “Mo money, mo problems”.  Did he just quote a rapper?  You better believe it!  There are life’s lessons to be learned everywhere.  Even the most successful business owners in the world are facing similar challenges as you, just on a WHOLE different level.

After a recent phone conversation with one of my friends/mentor, I was able to address some of the challenges in which I was facing.  Then I started to see more.  And more…  And more until I realized, damn I am pretty messed up!  It actually became a bit overwhelming.  I started digging into why I struggle with discipline, which was justified by the juggling of several projects at once, which in turn was in result of my lack of focus.  It turned into a big snowball effect.

I took a step back and looked at everything I desired to self-improve on to get to the next level.  I quickly realized it was a whole heck of a lot.  “Where do I start?” I was asking myself and my mentor.  Have you ever felt that way?  It is frustrating because we want to keep moving forward, but sometimes we need to take a step back to address certain issues.  That is when my mentor said “I want to introduce you to one of the most powerful words I know”.

notorious-bigThe word is “kaizen”, he proclaimed.

“Kaizen”, he continued, “is a Japanese word for continuous incremental improvements”.

As soon as he said “continuous incremental improvements”, something clicked for me.  You see, I always strive to be perfect in every area of my life.  If there is an unbalance, I desire to correct it immediately.  Sometimes we have to just surrender to the process.  Be content with exactly where we are at the present moment and realize that 1. nothing will happen overnight, and 2. too much drastic change can detrimental to our businesses.

Kaizen is a Japanese management concept for incremental (gradual, continuous) change (improvement). K. is actually a way of life philosophy, assuming that every aspect of our life deserves to be constantly improved. Japanese companies distinguish between innovation (radical) and Kaizen (continuous). K. means literally: change (kai) to become good (zen).

2595466344_a09c8fc474The foundation of the Kaizen method consists of 5 founding elements:
1. teamwork,
2. personal discipline,
3. improved morale,
4. quality circles, and
5. suggestions for improvement.

–More on kaizen from (valuebasedmanagement.net).

I like to think of the “business of life” as a marathon.  The ones who come out of the gate sprinting, always tend to fall short.  The runners who keep a steady pace will overtake the sprinter in the long hall.  Just a few steady improvements each day will get you to where you want to be.

So, let’s talk about what has worked for me.  My tips for continuous incremental improvements:

Work Backwards. When you feel you are losing focus or you don’t know what to do, take a step back and breathe.  Ask yourself “is what I am doing at this very moment bringing me closer to where I want to be”.  If the answer is no, then you must look  at where you are going.  If you don’t know where you want to be, that is a deeper problem and you must work the clarity of what you really want.  Work yourself backwards from your goal and what has to be done to get there.  If you take those large, scary tasks and break them down even further, you will realize what you should be doing at this very moment.

Have YOU time every morning. First thing in the morning, take time to yourself to do something that makes you feel good.  It is so important not to go straight to Facebook to check your messages (although I do that sometimes).  Every morning I walk my dog, go running and read for an hour before I start my day.  When I do these things in the morning, I feel great about myself and charge forward into my day.  Not to mention when we get caught up in our work, we won’t have to worry about it later.

Create a to-do list. Every night before you go to sleep on a small notepad , write out all the things you must accomplish for the next day.  I fell asleep last night before I could write mine and I already feel out of sync today!  Tear that sheet of paper off the next day and carry it around with you throughout the day.  After you have your YOU time first thing in the morning, knock out the most important thing on that list and you will have a more fulfilled day.

Journalize every night. Recapture your day.  What went well, and talk to your journal about what didn’t go so well and the challenges you are facing.  Usually I will struggle in my mind for hours trying to come to a solution about a problem.  Try asking your journal a question.  As soon as I take it to my journal, I work out the problem fairly quickly. You will be surprised how therapeutic it actually is if you never kept a journal.

So, when are you going to change?

  • Shannon Buckley

    I mentioned before in a facebook thread that I was introduced to “kaizen” because of Jack Canfield. He calls your process of breaking things into pieces “chunking it down”.. I have heard a lot of difference names for the same concept.

    I think your point about making time in the morning is super important.

    The other piece of your article I enjoyed was ” I started digging into why I struggle with discipline, which was justified by the juggling of several projects at once, which in turn was in result of my lack of focus” I think you hit the nail on the head with that one. When we dive into some spiritual philosophy we might be able to conclude that we all have a purpose here. If that is the case, where the heck did all these distractions come from?? It is one of the most undesirable aspects of our current society in my opinion.

    Have you heard that multi-tasking is less efficient than doing one thing at a time?

  • For an earlier generation Bruce Springsteen once said “When you start earning $400 a day you get $400 dollar a day problems”.

    So true.

  • I like the idea of journalize everynight. Its very important yo recap what you did and how it went. Make small improvements each day so your time becomes more and more productive. Also its a great way to just stay on track when you realize you didn’t get certain things done you should have.

  • Awesome post! Truly inspirational Bradley!
    To-do lists are important – prioritizing your to do list everyday is the tricky part! 🙂

  • ~BW

    Thanks for the comment Shannon. I consider multi-tasking a very difficult thing. Indulging myself in a project and giving it my full attention creates the best results.

    What do you do for your morning inspiration?

    -Brad

  • ~BW

    Hey Mike,

    One thing many young entrepreneurs don’t realize is that the problems will always be there. Money will never be the cure.

    I heard once that the board of directors from Chase bank called Donald Trump down at 3am and they said we want our money. I believe that was in the midst of the 90’s and the total was something like $900 million from his real estate projects. (don’t quote me on that). Now what if Donald let that shake him??

    Thanks for the comment

    Brad

  • ~BW

    Excellent advice Jared,

    By talking to our journal, we an address why we didn’t get things done and usually find the root of the problem. Many times I find it is not a lack of time. It is a lack of time management and focus that keeps me from getting things done.

    Thanks for the comment!

    Brad

  • ~BW

    Thanks Khalil for stopping by!

    What are your tips for prioritization of to-do lists?

    Brad

  • Biggie is so inspiring.

    I didn’t know very much about him at all until a few years after he died. A music site I belong to just had this same pic on it yesterday. An artist I know is trying to get a deal with the “suits” and a suit told him he was too fat. So another of our friends showed this same artist this picture of Biggie (inspirational to every rapper ever born) to remind him that fat boys get lucky too! Especially when they’re driven by a great purpose. The team concept is so wonderful at focusing the prupose!

    I know you have that DRIVE Bradley, and my world is a better place when I pay attention to you.

    re:journaling at nite before bed. You could use your video camera. It’s faster, creates even more confidence in yourself and you get more authentic/efficient as you train your thoughts to come out effortlessly.

    I’m interested to see how other people prioritize their to do lists.

    peace bro,

    Steve.

  • ~BW

    Thanks so much for leaving me this comment Steve. You and Sue have some great things in your near future. I can already see it. Rock on!!! Rock hard!!!!

    Brad

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  • David D. Also I wanted to add another comment I have been told to do as well. Write down where you went wrong that day, if you were too impatient with somebody, try to promptly apologize to that person the next morning. At the very top of your journal, write down what you did that day to make the world a better place or something that God did for you that you are thankful for. It does not have to be a big thing, maybe turning the light green when you were in a hurry or something little like that. That will set the pace for your journal.

  • Keeping a journal is such a crucial part of me achieving my goals. It's where I write down what I want to get done (sometimes in the form of to do lists) but it also tells me what I actually accomplished. It can be used in any area of your life. I choose to keep separate journal for my food/fitness and for my business. That way I stay focused on both but have a place to download the day's happenings.

    Steve Soucy has a great idea I might start doing – journalling via video. Definitely will try that.

    Bradley, I'm a new fan and will be back! 🙂

  • Keeping a journal is such a crucial part of me achieving my goals. It's where I write down what I want to get done (sometimes in the form of to do lists) but it also tells me what I actually accomplished. It can be used in any area of your life. I choose to keep separate journal for my food/fitness and for my business. That way I stay focused on both but have a place to download the day's happenings.

    Steve Soucy has a great idea I might start doing – journalling via video. Definitely will try that.

    Bradley, I'm a new fan and will be back! 🙂

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  • Hey Brad
    Excellent advice, I really like the work your way back principle.

    Coming from a trade background we always have a set of drawings to build something too.
    So that we have a clear picture of what the end product we fabricate needs to look like.
    As you said this works really well in life and business as well.
    If you know what the end result needs to look like.
    Then you can focus on the things you need to do to make it e reality.

    Cheers Adam

  • Hey Bradley! My inability to stay on task is one of the biggest problems I have as an entrepreneur. And it seems like it's a fairly common problem.

    One of the things I started using recently is a to-do list website, TeuxDeux.com. I'm cautious to share these things but it has helped a lot! It's free and simple to use. You add things to one day. If you don't complete them, they transfer to the next day.

    I always keep it open as one of my tabs and when I remember to do something, I add it to the list and carry on with what I was already doing.

    I know, this sounds like a sales pitch but it's really not. I use it. It helps me. And others can benefit from using it as well.

    Nice article!

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  • Keep that in mind… to make those continual incremental improvements toward whatever your objective may be. That is certainly key to the Accelerator for Success system using the Dream Bar Cafe principles. Make a plan and Go, Go, Go… one step at a time.

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