Here we are at the third timeless virtue based on Robin Sharma’s book: “The monk who sold his Ferrari”, and it is the practice of kaizen.

Kaizen is a Japannese word referring to the concept of endless improvement, of continually striving to improve. So it is not a question of having some New Year Resolutions and ticking them (or not) from our list, but of making it a virtue in itself to incorporate constant evaluations and new goals in our lives.

He has a few strong points here:

1. “No man is free who is not master of himself”.This is food enough for a whole blog. For now, let us say it is knowing who we are and accepting who we are and doing what we know is our rightful way, adjusting and improving along that way.

2. Pain is a great teacher. This sounds rather masochistic but just as in sport a muscle needs to break its boundaries to grow (hence muscle ache, in the same way pain introduces new boundaries to us and through learning our way through them, we grow. We learn new aspects of ourselves, we learn how to cope.

He adds:” No experience is inherently painful or pleasant, it is your thinking that makes it so”.Mmm…not our usual way of thinking…

So what Mr Sharma suggests is to identify and conquer our fears, our weaknesses. I quote: ” The only limits on your life are those that you set yourself: make a written inventory of your weaknesses, when you conquer your fears, you conquer your life.” Hence being master of yourself, and free.

In a way, he is saying that fear is a conditionned response and we need to question that. This is bringing to mind a training I did years back as I started off as management consultant. We were a group of ambitious young rookies and during our training we needed to make various presentations. I was terrified. I seem very confident on the outside but within I was thinking up all sorts of excuses why I had to leave and panicking totally. So what did I do? I always volunteered first. By doing this I eventually conquered the fear and what a gratifying feeling that was. And so in life we are frequently confronted by fears, new ones, recurring old ones and we need to find them, face them, question our fear and then go and do what we fear the most! So what are your fears?

To help us on our kaizen way he adds 10 tips on rituals we should incorporate into our daily routine to live a radiant life:

Ritual 1: A ritual of peace.Create a daily period of peace, a ritual of solitude (ideally at the same time as rituals like consistency), commune with nature daily. Inspire from its beauty, its logic, its life force.

Ritual 2: a Ritual of physicality (daily exercise: ideally a min of 30 mins and preferably outside)

Ritual 3:Ritual of live nourishment: (if its dead: dont eat it. He recommends only fresh vegetables, fruit, grain: ouch to most of us)

Ritual 4:The ritual of abundant Knowledge: (dedicate yourslef to a life long learning, make time to think, read regularly)

Ritual 5:A ritual of personal reflection (reflect on your day, cultivate positive thoughts, laugh, learn from the less positive experiences)

Ritual 6: A ritual of early awakening. Yes, I can hear the groans. He recommends rising with the sun and basing your daily rythm on it, taking from its energy.(I dont mind in winter)

Ritual 7: A Ritual of music. Create time to relax and listen to the harmony of music, let it transport you, carry your thoughts.

Ritual 8: The Ritual of the spoken word ( create a mantra that will inspire and ground you and repeat it out loud)

Ritual 9: The Ritual of a congruent character (strengthen your character: reap an action, sow a habit) Timeless principles of: industry, compassion, humility, patience, honesty and courage. Decide where your weaknesses lie and envision the differences and continuously work towards it.

Ritual 10: A Ritual of simplicity (do not unnecessarily complicate your life: put first things first, set priorities in a value based way)

And for today I shall finish with a quotation of his which particularly resonnated with me:

“Laughing is medicine for the soul, we don’t laugh because we are happy, we are happy because we laugh”.

I love it! So keep laughing!!!!