Raad Ahmed
November 30, 2021

📖 Book Brief: The Kaizen Way

“Book Brief” is a paid-subscribers only series where I share my notes on inspiring ideas from books I read.

It's about incremental improvements - small steps, not big leaps.

Key parts of the brain to understand:

Amygdala = fight or flight repose center in the brain.

Cortex = where the brain produces creative thoughts.

Stress is essentially fear.

When we’re kids, we accept that we can’t control fear. It’s like parents or teachers being in bad moods—it’s accepted as a part of their lives.

But when we’re adults, we think we can control fear so when something happens that induces fear, we automatically assume we did something wrong / that it’s productive / that we are defeated.

This stunts creativity by going into fight or flight mode (triggering the amygdala) rather than activist the cortex, the creative part of your brain.

You end up screwing up your best interests by being surprised each time when fear comes around.

Takeaway: View fear as the body telling you that a challenge lies ahead. The more you care about something the more fear will come. If you view fear as a byproduct of ambition, you can clear neural pathways in your brain to take small steps to the right direction, rather than being paralyzed by anxiety.

The author argues that making asking the same (simple) question everyday mobilizes the cortex.

What's the smallest step I can take today to be more efficient?

What’s one thing I wish to contribute to the world with my book, poem, song, or painting?

Whom could I look to for inspiration?

What is special about my creative process/ talents/ team?

What type of work would excite and fulfill me?

How to do mind sculpture

1. Lie down.

2. Imagine yourself in a difficult or uncomfortable situation through your eyes.

3. See the expression on other peoples faces / expand sounds and smells.

4. Imagine performing the tasks — what do you say? What are your physical gestures?

5. Imagine a positive response to your activity i.e, if public speaking, the audience moves in and is interested. You hear them write notes.

6. Keep doing it until you feel comfortable performing the act in real life naturally without pressure... this could take days or weeks.

7. Once you’re cool with it, imagine a worst case scenario like someone seeing the audience look bored during your public speech. Then imagine how you would like to speak and feel in that situation.

8. Once you’re ready, start with small tasks. Like giving your public speech out loud but to an empty audience or 1 person only.

Small Actions

Small actions trick the brain into thinking: Hey, this change is so tiny that it’s no big deal. No need to get worked up. No risk of failure or unhappiness here. By outfoxing the fear response, small actions allow the brain to build up new, permanent habits—at a pace that may be surprisingly brisk.