Dennis McCurdy's Find A Way
Get What You Want, Get What You Deserve.

Raking the Leaves Small Steps

I have spent most of my life in New England, except for the three-plus years I was in the Air Force. Thus, I believe this makes me an expert on autumn leaves. I don't mean the beautiful, bright colored leaves in the trees, which I love. I mean the brown, dried, and curled up, crunchy ones on the lawn. The ones I need to rake every year.

Now, raking leaves has never been my favorite yard task. Yet, if left undone, it's a mess. (And I am too cheap to hire someone else to do it. I guess that's the Yankee in me.) So I begrudgingly, (and with some whining) pay homage to the rake gods and get the job done.

A few years ago, I read a book and listened to CDs by Dr. Robert Maurer on the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen. Kaizen means continual improvements by taking continuous, small steps, small actions. This is the same philosophy that built Toyota, Sony, Honda, and many other great Japanese companies. So what does this have to do with raking leaves?

One day I was thinking about my leaves, Kaizen and taking small actions, and I came up the following solution. Each day I would take my 10' x 12' blue plastic tarp out of the barrel by the side of the house. I would lay it on the ground and rake leaves onto it. I would fill it one time, then drag it into the woods and dump the leaves. I'd put the tarp back in the barrel, along with the rake. And then I was done for the day. This whole process usually took three to five minutes. I wouldn't even break a sweat. In fact, I could do it in my business clothes.

I began this process in late September and, much to my surprise, by Halloween my yard was immaculate. It was beautiful! The yard had never looked this good in all the years I lived there. Hmmmm... I thought, this Kaizen stuff really works.

This whole concept of taking small, continuous steps over a period of time can create great results. I began to look for other things at home, in my office, and in my life that I could improve. One day at a time, one step at a time, sometimes only one minute at a time. Doing work this way is more fun and takes less effort. And, it's effective. Now, I no longer dread raking leaves.

Are there any big jobs you have to do? Any big projects you need to complete? Are there things you want to improve? It can be your health, your business, your career, your home, your education, your sales, or your life, it doesn't matter. You can do it a little each day, and before you realize it, you'll be yelling KAIZEN! I did it.

One small step at a time, one small improvement at the time, that's the Kaizen Way.

~ Dennis