Mid December, must’ve been at least 20 years ago. I was sitting by the window on a sort of ledge that was created just above the heater system. This was actually a genius place to put a place where one could sit and enjoy the warmth coming from below (no pun intended).
It is Toronto. I don’t remember much about the area. I can see a Walmart not far from the apartment building, I also remember there are two apartment buildings within the symmetrical complex and in the middle of it was a dome protruding from the ground in the most awkward way. the dome was the roof to an underground swimming pool and recreational center that could be used – at no extra cost- by all the tenants residing within its proximity. For some reason, my friends and I feared going down there. We would sit around, above the ground, and peep into the windows of the dome and watch in amazement the people that actually had the guts to go down there in what seemed to be a dungeon (at least we were sure it was!)
I was an average student at the time. My mom was working two jobs which caused the scarcity of her appearance during the day and early on into the night. I preferred at this point in my life to keep to myself mostly. I did have a group of friends that I would spend time with after school but it was always limited and not as fulfilling as one would think.
One night, the snow came down pretty hard. School was cancelled (for anyone that lived/lives is Canada, you know how awesome snow days are). Most of the public transit lines were also massively delayed or temporarily shut down. My mom made breakfast, and we flipped between news channels watching how the entire city was covered in snow; both of us – i’m sure- internally asking our self: why on earth did we leave our home in Africa and settle here with this weather.
The hours on such days seemed slower than usual. The irony of life I guess: we are the first to complain when there’s too much to do and also the first to complain when we are bored.
My mom and I had a special bond. We spoke openly, we talked about all areas of our lives, where we wanted to be, how we thought we would get there; we basically tried as best as we could to plan out the next few years of our life – a joined road map.
On this day I complained about how I would get bored and not have much to do. This is when my mom introduced me to something that today proves to be an utmost powerful tool.
The Japanese believe that trying out new things, picking up new habits can be somewhat tedious. They explain the human mind to look at new tasks in somewhat a negative light. Not many of us like change and when we see the change dressed in a new 2 hour task every day, most of us run. This is why they came up with KAIZEN.
Kaizen is the practice of performing a task for 1 simple minute every single day.
My mom said – try this: you want to become a lawyer, read absolutely anything about law for just one minute every day. You want to be a writer, write anything that comes to your mind for one minute everyday.
At that particular moment, I was like: Mom, what could one minute possibly achieve. What can anyone do in just one minute?!
Just in my thirties, I think back and pick on those little conversations my mom and I shared, the little pieces of our own little ‘how to go through life’ book and I realize, there are a lot of traits, a tremendous amount of guidance and advice we receive from our predecessors that if taken into account, could really be the change we want to see.
Long story short – I did do some reading on Kaizen and the Japanese literally meant the one minute rule. Its no complicated story: simply try whatever it is you want to get into the habit of for a full minute every day.
Today begins the journey of my Kaizen lifestyle.