There Are No Big Problems

Are you facing something big and overwhelming? Instead of solving the whole, break it down into smaller problems that are easier to address.

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” — Robert Collier

Change doesn’t have to be big and scary.

As Henry Ford once said, “there are no big problems — there are just a lot of little problems.” Big problems, obstacles or impediments can always be reduced to smaller, more manageable problems.

Kaizen is my favorite approach for solving problems.

The Japanese word kaizen translates to “change for better.” It’s typically associated with the concept of continuous improvement, where change is achieved via a series of small steps or improvements.

If finding meaning is life’s quest, then kaizen is the gentle path of self actualization. The way of kaizen embodies the following principles:

  • There is always room for improvement. Be ever vigilant.

  • Improvement is a gradual, continuous process.

  • Radical change and innovation start with small observations.

  • Small observations come from all people, regardless of rank.

  • Don’t fixate on fancy new tools. Use the tools at hand.

According to Albert Einstein, “the important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” That reason is the drive to improve. Without it, we stagnate. We make no progress forward in knowledge, happiness and survival.

Kaizen is at the root of effective habits, skills, leadership, productivity, efficiency and high performance. It is the answer to the question: “How?”

Whenever you are faced with that question, try the kaizen loop:

  • Look around. Notice every detail, no matter how small.

  • Try one small improvement.

  • Evaluate.

Repeat this loop continuously to find a solution or to realize the change you seek. Once there, always remember: “The largest room in the world is the room for improvement.” One more step forward is always possible.

We are born as curious little scientists, but life tends to give that curiosity a sound drubbing. Breaking big problems down into smaller problems is something we adults must rediscover.

Rekindle your curiosity by practicing it on a daily basis. Constantly seek out improvements in the smallest of places. Let no detail go unnoticed.

Before long, you will be that little scientist again, making new discoveries every day. Change will come naturally once again.