2020-01-27 Issue 131 – Fundamental Behavior 4 – Make Quality Personal
“Make Quality Personal.” Is there any saying deeper than this? In particular, “combat complacency” and “good is NOT good enough” are harsh words. It’s saying that instead of being complacent, you must always aim for further growth, no matter how big a problem you face or how under the weather you might feel… Conversely, if you think, “I can’t do it” or “That’s beyond the limit of my capabilities” or “I don’t have the energy or patience to go forward,” you can develop a negative attitude.
Decades ago, when I was in charge of a branch production line, honestly every day was a series of sufferings. I wasn’t able to improve my productivity, I couldn’t communicate well with my employees, I was impatient and limited in my abilities, and I wanted to run away because I was anxious about the future and didn’t know what to do. My boss saw my very sullen face, called me in to see him, and listened to me. After listening intently, he gave me two pieces of advice. The first was, “First of all, take responsibility and carry out the tasks that you have been given right now.” He continued, “At first it might seem like you are walking blindly in a tunnel with no direction, but there’s always some light that will shine in. That little bit of light is proof that you have grown and that the next pathway will open.” And I remember what he said next like it was yesterday: “Don’t ask people to do something with just words, first show them through your own actions.” I practiced this advice daily, and the situation began to improve little by little and the atmosphere of my workplace became brighter.
The second piece of advice was, “Find something that makes you happy.” It could be sports, movies, music, or it could be certain words, like your favorite motto. He suggested that it was important to be able to experience positive feelings quickly when you are worried or encountering difficulties. The reason is that it takes a lot of energy to bring a negative state of mind back to a normal state of mind. Working when you are reluctant only uses about 70% of your abilities, and as a result you start sinking into an ever deepening rut. In my case, I thought about it for a while and came up with the 3 Ks: Gratitude (Kansha), Excitement (Kandō), and Joy (Kanki). Express gratitude to many people! Become someone who can be grateful for many things and find joy in them! In later years, I added the phrase, “Everything can be turned into a positive; difficulties are the source of growth.” I said this along with the 3Ks every time something happened.
In a magazine, the president of a Japanese company said that the six essential elements of an employee who can be successful globally are: “Imagination,” “Communication,” “Intuition,” “Ability to implement,” “Ability to unify,” and “Thoroughness,” with “Thoroughness” being the most important among them! He explained, “Thoroughly pursuing the ordinary produces the extraordinary.” Someone else said, “Do not cry, do not flee, do not stop” and “Do it immediately. Always do it. Do it to the best of your abilities.” This has stuck with me.
In a recent example, during a meeting in the USA, I was impressed by the words that an outside advisor said guided her life. “Be optimistic (be positive), have fun (enjoy whatever you do), and never give up.”
Every day, I challenge myself to follow advice like this and take on the responsibilities I have been given, swallow my pride, and grow with joy.
Senior Vice President, National Sales
YKK Canada Inc.