Wabi Sabi and Kaizen

Wabi Sabi and Kaizen

I lit some sage this morning over coffee and watched the smoke. The wisps of smoke swirled this way and that. They were not in any particular form. They did not hurry. Yet, they did exactly what gentle smoke does. They were beautiful in their own way.

Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nature knows: consistent, forward motion with periods of rest built in to the process is the way. Nature doesn’t complain, she adapts to what is and keeps moving.

Have you seen an abandoned house that has been overtaken with ivy, trees and weeds? Nature doesn’t care that you scraped her clean and built on top of her. She just continues on.

Nature knows that life is always imperfect, always changing, and never quite done. She continues on knowing this is exactly how it is.

The idea that life is a verb and has its own forward motion is embodied in the Japanese idea of wabi sabi. In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a view of the world centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It doesn’t attempt to cover up damages and imperfection, but incorporates them into the whole story. With wabi sabi, we can finally understand that who we are today is the sum total package of everything we have ever been and this is beautiful.

AND, because of imperfection, impermanence, and incompletion, there is always room to grow and make better and different. There is always room to expand your zone of familiarity.

How we move forward leads me to the idea of Kaizen.

Kaizen is the Japanese word for “improvement”. In business, kaizen refers to activities that continuously improve all functions from the top to the bottom of the company.

Kaizen in coaching and therapy is the approach to creating continuous improvement based on the idea that small, ongoing positive changes can reap major improvements. Consistent movement is what makes lasting changes. Moving forward in increments of 1% at a time creates sustainable change.

These ideas don’t match up with what we are usually conditioned to think. These ideas don’t ‘crush’ or ‘kill’ goals (or whatever the cool kids are saying these days). But don’t be thrown off. There is value here.

The reality is that with consistency of action and acceptance of life as it is, the first steps are going to be in 1% increments at first. Then, because you have a firm foundation to work from, they become 2% increments, then 5% until you realize you have built up a momentum that cannot be stopped.

Your brain will appreciate you operating from these methods. You see, your brain moved too far, too fast outside of your zone of familiarity will respond with fear and jerk you back to what is known. This is especially true if you have trauma in your history or are a highly sensitive person.

Nature does not hurryyet everything is accomplished.” -Lao Tzu

What is your wabi sabi? What will you move forward 1% today? Why haven’t you called me yet to talk about it?

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