Think small before you think big! Kaizen mindset and Monika Brabers have the recipe
Last December I participated in Tetyana’s workshop on Instagram. I was very curious how it worked and if it was for me to experiment with. After the webinar I was very much triggered by her and what Instagram could offer me and my clients, so just before the year ended, I decided to get my teeth into it. I knew Instagram by name because my 16-year old daughter was a constant visitor and a virtual citizen of this world so I booked some consultation with her. Yes, I needed to book time with her because she was very busy with liking and swiping the posts on IG. It was not a mother-daughter talk, but rather a social media junkie of the 21st century with an ancient citizen of the past. After a two-hour profound, in-depth and very patient(!!!) session with her I was hooked. I was a transferred person and filled with plenty of new information to try out and a wealth of possibilities to experiment with. So I embarked on my social media journey.
I started posting on 1 January. My ‘Daily January Boost’ posts were meant to offer my old, current and possible future clients some extra content to improve, polish and fine-tune their knowledge of English day-by-day and little-by-little.
If you do things incrementally, you have a much better chance of succeeding.
I wanted to contribute to my clients` language journey also outside our sessions. Small steps – every day a new word – will get them to the same place that big steps do, but small steps are more likely to work, sometimes even faster, too.
That’s when I heard about continuous improvement from my professional clients and I may have eavesdropped when my husband was on the video call with his team. So I became curious. I love learning and trying out new things in general. When I felt the curiosity-stimulated dopamine flowing through my body, I knew I was about to learn new things and broaden my horizon. Novelty and the stories that I had heard, created a lot of new neuronal connections to fire in me. But I was still full of questions.
What is the methodology behind continuous improvement and what are the tools?
Can I also use them in my language coaching?
One of the tools of continuous improvement is Kaizen. Kaizen is a small-step philosophy to foster good change and improvement. Small steps can take a long time but these steps will take you further than big steps. It requires some change in our behaviour and in our mindset. But change is difficult, right? We have all experienced this with our clients and coachees or even at home with our families. Changing our behaviour and mindset costs us a lot of energy and resistance, and why should we take the trouble? And why is change difficult?
We know from neuroscience that change is uncomfortable, terrifying and pushes us out of our comfort zones. Nobody likes changes. But changes are necessary and we need to go with the flow. Ask yourself this question daily: What’s the smallest step towards improvement that you can take? It should be SO small and SO effortless that you can hardly notice. Why? Once our brains detect any sign of change, it reacts with fear. When fear and uncertainty are at present due to change, the amygdala is in charge. Our cerebral cortex – thinking brain – is not able to function and that makes thinking, reasoning and creativity impossible.
The Kaizen approach asks you to take small steps towards your goal. So small that your alarm – the amygdala – never goes off and your body and mind remain relaxed.
Make incremental progress, change comes not by the yard, but by the inch.
(Rick Pitino, American professional basketball coach)
The real power of small steps is that they create new habits by building new neural pathways in our brains. So new habits have been created before the amygdala can even react and go to the fight-or-flight mode. The system for change is already underway, and it feels familiar, safe, easy and not scary.
Let`s now go back to Instagram. All my posts have been connected to the sessions with my clients. I offered them an extra opportunity to remind them of the words, expressions and the topics we talked about. For me the visual effects were also very important, I wanted my posts to catch my viewers` attention immediately. People need to recall information rather than recognize, so I used vivid and warm colors, glitters, photos, capital letters, bold letters etc. to help create new memories.
Repeating the new words and being reminded of the content of our sessions helped them with memory retention. They were daily posts in January and February and we agreed that they would use them as reminders to keep the learned material fresh and up-to-date. I asked them to write sentences with the new words or the expressions and relate those to their own situations. You can recall information more easily when it is emotionally charged, real and personal. By the end of the second month, they had not only increased their vocabulary but they had also become more confident users of the language. Daily repetition is crucial for the brain; we need to remind our brains every day and practice the new materials long enough until they become familiar and are pushed into the active vocabulary.
Most of my clients are 50+, so I wasn’t sure if they would follow me or even be interested and intrigued by IG. Novelty could create some discomfort and anxiety, so I really had to make sure that it was not novelty for novelty’s sake, but novelty with meaningful content.
My Instagram posts haven`t delivered me new clients YET. However, I have managed to convince my 50+ clientele to follow me on Instagram to break down the barriers of their fear and combine social media with a little bit of learning.
Personally, I have learnt a lot and I firmly believe that social media is and will be part of our future learning. My final thoughts are:
Learning isn’t easy, but it should never be boring. Start with small daily steps and enjoy your journey on the way to excellence.