The unapologetic, raw, unedited interpretation of living life. Each of us is the artist of our own life, constantly remolding, reworking, and roughing out the details and applying what we've learned to the changing canvas. There are no do-overs, no take backs...just rough cuts that release what lies inside us.

I saw the angel in stone and I carved until I set him free. - Michelangelo

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Kaizen: The Pursuit of Perfection

Ironic as it is, I needed to revisit Kaizen.  The artist needs to look back on his finished piece with fresh eyes, consistently and see it again without the emotional clinging to the work that brought it to life.  You may wonder why an artist never seems satisfied with his "finished" piece.  He sees what can be improved, the missed brush stroke, the slight imperfection in the mold, a missed opportunity, irregularity in the material.  And when he looks upon it, he will only see what could have been. 

The pursuit of perfection
The pursuit of perfection may seem exhausting or extreme in nature to most, but perhaps that is in the misunderstanding of what truth lies behind it.  You may be asking yourself, why are we revisiting this topic?  The truth is because of what it means to an artist and what it means for a leader to dig in deeper after he has already given it all. 

There should be no erasers!
I want to draw your attention to the fact that the previous post of KAIZEN was not deleted - this is not an edited post or re-post. We learn from our mistakes, from our past, the artist acknowledges lessons learned and we all need reminders of those lessons.  Don't discount the purpose of our past; it prevents repetition of wrong choices and unwanted outcomes. 

 The artist [perfectionist] in me...

I grew up the daughter of a Marine Corps officer and his wife, the epitome of a Lady (we don't hear that word too much anymore).  They both shared a Do-it-yourself work ethic and impeccable ability to reach out to and make others feel important. Do you think anyone in our house was able to just be "good enough"?  I was the one who wanted to get to the finish line first and then get to whatever was next. Life was a sprint! But in fifth grade I was working on a last minute project for a school art competition, brought my piece downstairs for review and my Dad said, "You can do better than that." We spent the next several hours making it better. After colored paper, a straight edge, a ruler, and some careful glue applications, it was.  The finished piece went on to win awards at the school, region, and state level. 

Lessons learned
The photo of Arlington Cemetery in my "Wish for World Peace" project taught me a life lesson - it CAN be better if you are willing to spend the time, exude the effort, and believe in yourself.  It will be rewarded beyond your expectations.
KAIZEN is not a sprint, life is not a sprint. Your Magnum Opus is a slow and steady process of refinement and pursuit of perfection.

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