Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cheerfulness & Kaizen Spirit

By Pascal Dennis,

In an earlier post on kaizen spirit has generated fine comments.

I'd like to expound on the related concept: cheerfulness.

I'm not referring to the Pollyanna variety -- shallow, rootless, Ill-informed by life...

I mean the real deal: deeply rooted cheerfulness, fully informed of life's ups and downs -- and showing a sunny smile to life regardless.

Cheerfulness is a statement:

"Yes, life is tough. There are plenty of reasons to be depressed. But here I am -- in spite of everything."
In spite of everything -- I'd suggest this humble phrase summarizes the spirit of kaizen.

We ain't got much money, we're in an old plant, in a mature industry -- but we're making things a little better every day...

I see that same spirit now in Japan; have no doubt they'll meet their troubles with resolve -- and cheerfulness.

I remember an old, esteemed aikido sensei (in my martial arts days).

"You must have a big heart, Pascal-san."
Then he cupped his hands on his chest -- an expanding heart.

(See chapter 13 of Andy & Me )

I've never forgotten the lesson.


  1. Pascal - I always equate cheerfulness & kaizen spirit with a "Can Do" attitude. This is not based on arrogance or hubris but simply a belief we have that we can solve any poblem ahead of us by applying ourselves and following our problem solving process and the scientific method.

  2. "Can Do" & cheerfulness are indeed inextricable.

    It's easy to be a cynic, to criticize from the sidelines.

    As Teddy Roosevelt point out a century ago -- honour to those in the arena, who persevere in spite of everything.

    Whiners are a dime a dozen, doers rare.

  3. Agreed. It is much easier to sit on the sidelines and firehose everyone else's ideas while bemoaning your lot in life v.s. rolling up your sleeves and getting on with the job at hand. This seems a more pervasive trait in society today than perhaps even 30 years ago when the expectation was that you would have some degree of 'pioneer' spirit........and perhaps this boldness of spirit is what supports the 'can-do' attitude as well as the cheerfulness you describe. I think without this cheerfulness and boldness of spirit it is difficult to be visionary and entrepreneurial; how do we/can we seed these traits into upcoming generations?

  4. Well Said Andre. Kaizen Spirit is about rolling up your sleeves and getting thing done while having fun and learning at the same time. It's hard work but we feel a sense of accomplishment. In this case, work is indeed it's own reward.
    Building this spirit is a key tole of people involved in kaizen.