This image is of 1% improvement done through Friendship CrossFit's Brian O'Masta

1% Is Enough

Written by Coach Brian O’Masta of Friendship CrossFit

1% is enough

There is this Japanese word, Kaizen which means “change for the better”, and the Kaizen method is a business practice originating in Japan, in which small improvements are constantly searched for in every aspect of the business, and from every employee, from the CEO to the production line workers. The philosophy behind the Kaizen method; if every employee does one thing to make the company just one percent better, then the company is set up for success. All the individual one percent improvements add up to make a huge difference.

1 percent better

While the Kaizen method was originally brought about to help Japanese manufacturers improve during the post WWII era, it remains relevant in the world today. It also is something that can be applied on a much smaller scale to help find improvements in someone’s everyday life by looking for small changes that add up over time.

At some point in everyone’s life there comes the realization that a change is needed. Maybe you need to lose some weight, pay off some debts, or clean your house. Whatever the change is, it is usually attacked with immense effort at the beginning. You cut out all junk food and eat only organic non-GMO foods, you cut back on all your frivolous spending, or you clean your house top to bottom twice a week. This will usually go well for a week or two, and then you will miss one meal, or the house gets a little to dirty and boom, you give up and end up right back where you started. At the beginning you had a ton of motivation and you may have overdone yourself a little, and it becomes very easy to slip back into old bad habits. Unfortunately, this is the story for too many of us whenever we try to make change. The Kaizen method looks for a new story. Instead of making one huge change, start by making a few small tiny changes, and over time those changes add up. I’ll give you two examples from my life; one outside the gym and one inside the gym.

Growing up I had to clean my room every single Sunday. Pick up all the clothes, vacuum, dust, the whole nine yards. The second I got to college, I stopped cleaning my room. Maybe once a semester I would clean my room but that was a stretch. By the time I graduated from college I was sick of living in a dirty room with so many clothes on the floor that I couldn’t see my floor, but I was way too “busy” (read: lazy) to clean my whole room. So, I decided that every night before I went to bed I would pick up at least two things off the floor and put them where they belong. Some nights I picked up the two socks that I wore that day and put them in the laundry. Other days I would get on a roll and pick up a ton of stuff. After a few weeks of doing this, I could see the floor! Small changes started to make a huge difference.

A few years ago, I read an article that was challenging all the readers to see how many strict chest to bar pull-ups they could do. Full dead hang, touch the chest on the bar and back down. Being a college aged CrossFitting male, I was very humbled to find out that I could do a whopping ZERO strict chest to bar pull ups. However instead of wallowing in my weakness, or deciding I was going to do a hundred strict pull-ups a day every day, I decided to apply a new method. Every day I went to the gym I had to do one rep of a pulling exercise. Just one rep at a minimum. Everyone has the time and energy to do ONE SINGULAR REP of a pulling exercise, so I had no excuses to not do it. Some days, I literally did one chin up, or ring row, or barbell row as I was cleaning up my equipment, and other days I did an entire huge back workout that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger proud. No matter what every single day I did something to get me closer to my goal of a strict chest to bar pullup. Two months later I decided it was time to retest my chest to bar pullups hoping I could finally get one and ended up getting four in a row. Small changes made a huge difference.

This mindset can apply to your life in so many ways beyond these examples. Is this the end all be all solution to all your problems? No, it is not. Look at my bedroom and that will answer that question for you. All I am asking you to do is to is change your mindset slightly. I challenge you today to think of one thing you want to improve, maybe it’s double unders, maybe it’s your overhead mobility, maybe your bracing, pick something. Now write down the simplest action that you can take to help you get better at that thing, and I want you to do it every single day for one month. If you stick with it for one whole month I am very confident that you will be happy with the progress you’ll have made.

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Coach Brian is a CF L1, Certified Sports Nutritionist and BS in Exercise Science. He regularly brings the heat and a premium tank top game to the PM classes throughout the week!

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