How to become a better you — Learning from the Japanese example

Posted by News Express | 4 September 2020 | 1,779 times

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 Water does not cut through rock because it is strong but rather because it is persistent

The Japanese have a work place philosophy simply known as kaizen. This is the art of continuous improvement in productivity. It is this philosophy or work ethic that has in less than half a century transformed Japan from ruin to riches.

We all know that there is no country in the world that had the negative impact of World War II more than Japan. Even till date, the effect of the atomic bombs that were dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still being felt across the country in the form of earthquakes and other ecological hazards.

Immediately after World War II, which ended in 1945, Japan was lying desolate and in ruins, completely destroyed. As we say in local parlance, sorry became the second name of the country. But instead of the citizens sitting down and feeling sorry for themselves and their country, they decided to take action; that is, to find a way of rebuilding their country.

When the other countries of the world heard that the Japanese wanted to start to rebuild their country, they began to laugh at them. They began to make mockery of the Japanese, calling them jokers and day dreamers because they felt that rebuilding the country would be an impossibility. What gave them that impression was because Japan as a country has a small land mass of about 300,000 square kilometres, which is not even up to the size of a state in the United States of America. Another thing was that Japan lacked natural resources.

So, the other countries must have felt, with all the odds against the Japanese, what would they use to rebuild their country? How could one build without straw? Hence, their conclusion, that the Japanese were mere jokers and daydreamers.

But the Japanese thought differently. They felt that though they lacked natural resources, what was in their brain was worth far more than what was inside the ground. So, they came up with a work place philosophy known as kaizen.

When they began to try their hands on production like automobiles and electronics, the laughter from the other countries of the world became louder. Japanese products were considered not only cheap, inferior and unattractive, but outrightly ridiculous.

But what the mockers failed to recognise was that there was already a philosophy of continuous improvement that had been adopted by the Japanese in their work places.

The philosophy of kaizen made them to understand that great things are achievable through minimal effort but that the effort must be continuous. So, while the other countries of the world were making mockery of them, they were quietly continuously improving on the products in their various factories, perfecting their imperfections.

Just within 40 years after the end of World War II, the whole world was stunned by the quality and aesthetics of the products that were coming out of the factories in Japan. Those who had been mocking them became dazed and dumb. Right before their eyes, Japan began to take number one positions in automobile and electronics manufacturing in the world. Right before their eyes, Japan became a superpower and a super economy and there was nothing that their mockers could do about it because nothing can stop that which time has come.

A country that was completely written off, a country that was given no chance of surviving is today one of the fifth biggest economies in the world, that even the United States had to quickly adopt them as an ally, just to have Japan on its side. This is in spite of the fact that it has no natural resources and has a small land mass.

Tokyo, the capital of Japan that was lying desolate and in ruins after the end of World War II is today one of the two most beautiful cities in the world. At present, all the countries that were mocking Japan many years ago are praising it. All the countries that once described Japanese products as ridiculous are falling heads over heels to make use of them, including made in Japan automobiles and electronics. This is what the philosophy of kaizen has done for Japan.

Dear reader, I want you to know that what Japan has done as a country, you can also do as an individual if you apply this philosophy in your life. As the philosophy transformed Japan from ruin to an A-list country, your life could also be transformed from nothing to something if you adopt the same philosophy of continuous improvement in everything around you.

I am a strong believer in practice, so let’s put it into practice and see how true this can be. Now consider yourself as mini Japan. The atomic bomb has been dropped on you. By atomic bomb, I mean adversity. This could be heart break, divorce, sack from work, death of a loved one, loss of big money, property – just name them. Because of the adversity, you have become devastated just as Japan was after atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

We all know that failure is an orphan; therefore, you are mourning and grieving alone. Your life is lying desolate and in ruins. The whole world has collapsed right before your eyes. And your enemies are celebrating, laughing and making mockery of you. They are saying things like, “It’s all over for you. You are now a closed and forgotten chapter of a book.” The way the other countries thought of Japan.

Their reason for laughing and mocking you is because they have looked around you and they do not see help coming from anywhere for you. You also have no resource or capacity that would enable you to make a comeback after the adversity. So, in their minds, they have concluded that you are down and completely out.

Don’t forget that Japan was in a similar state immediately after World War II. The question now is, how would you respond? Would you say “so be it” and resign to fate? Would you allow your enemies to have the last say over your life? I know you won’t. However, you should know that the best way to respond when you are being mocked or ridiculed is not externally but internally. It would not do you any good to engage your mockers in war of words. Rather, you should go inside and begin to work hard to change that for which you are being mocked or ridiculed. That is why Lao Tsu advised that “one should respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.”

Don’t say that silence may not be golden, that your enemies may take advantage of your silence to mock you the more; therefore, you have to give it to them double to shut them up for good or even beat them in their own mocking game. That is never the right response. The best way to shut up somebody who is accusing you of being jobless is to get a job. The best way to shut up somebody who is mocking you for being poor is to try to become rich .The best way to shut up somebody who is accusing you of being lazy is to try to become hardworking.

The fact is that if you stop to throw a stone at every dog that barks at you on your way, you would never get to where you are going. The best way to shut people up permanently is with result and this is what your mockers don’t want you to have. You should know that they don’t just want to humiliate and intimidate you, they also want to distract you from becoming focussed and productive, so that you would continue to be that who they have desired in their heart for you to be: a non-achiever. It, therefore, means the more they distract or draw you away from being productive, the better for them. The more you leave what you are doing to become a better person to play their game, the better for them. Therefore, respond intelligently even to their unintelligent treatment.

That was the trap the Japanese intelligently avoided by refusing to be drawn out of their factories when they were being mocked all over the world. Had they resorted to replying every tongue that wagged against them, every criticism that was directed at their products, they would not have been where they are today.

But they knew that time was of essence and that speed and efficiency impact positively on productivity. They knew that the best way to reply their critics was to continuously improve on the products, which their mockers had branded ridiculous. By adopting positive attitudinal philosophy of avoiding wasting time doing or engaging in irrelevant things but doing what is right all the time, within few decades, this philosophy paid off mightily. So, the Japanese might have made a silent vow – which probably went like this: “Those that are mocking us would one day praise us” – and with continuous improvement in their productivity, they achieved it.

In your own case, you should also adopt the Japanese model of not wasting time replying your critics, detractors or mockers but to continuously focus on improving on the things in you that would make you a better person. You should continuously focus on changing all the setbacks, all the things that are not working in your life for them to begin to work. You should continuously focus on changing all the things that are drawing your life backwards, things like bad habits, low self-esteem, negative opinions, and so on. You should begin to look at all things that you have done successfully in your life and begin to take them to the next level because as far as I am concerned, success is a moving target and never a destination and as such whatever, success that you have recorded in the  past could still be improved on.

Whoever says that what is being said about him does not worry him is either a beast or a liar. But for me, I have a position which I also want to be your own position. The position is, say or believe whatever you choose to say or believe about me while I do whatever I choose to do with my life. I am not in the world to live up to anybody’s expectation or standard. I believe that my destiny is in my own hand and not in another person’s tongue because it is what I do today that would determine who I would become tomorrow and not what somebody else said or believed about me. Therefore, they should continue to say what they like while I continue to do what I know is right for me and for humanity, after all, talk is cheap and opinions are free.

So, if you want to become a better person, like the Japanese, don’t dwell on the negative things that people are saying about you because at this moment you are down but do soul searching to find out who you are and your purpose in life and all the things that would help you to achieve the purpose and start doing them.

In my book, “How To Become The Best That You Can Be”, I wrote that the only place you cannot come back, is from the dead. But Japan came back from the dead. They came back from ruins to become world number one in a lot of things.

What a lot of people may not know is that there is always something good in every adversity that we encounter as human beings. An adage has it that every dark cloud has its silver lining. Whenever adversity hits us, momentarily, we feel as if the world has come to an end. We would imagine the world collapsing right before our eyes. At times, we wish that the ground should open and swallow us. But when we overcome the shock, we would realise that adversity awakens the creativity in us. It also helps us to know our friends as well as our enemies. A line in a highlife song by late William Onyeabor has it that when the going is good, many people would be your friends, but when the going becomes tough, they would run away. This simply means there is no way you could know your true friends until you are hit by an adversity because human beings by nature are pleasure-seeking animals. Man seeks pleasure but shuns pain like a plague. Therefore, if you are hit by an adversity, those who genuinely felt your pains and sorrows and stood by you in that dark hour of grief could be considered as your true friends.

Another thing is that adversity makes us stronger and better people. According to Mahmat Munat, “a planet with no mountains, no storms and no earthquakes will create a planet of weak people.” This is a fact. Even Biblical Samson declared that “out of the strong comes honey”.

Therefore, adversity makes us to challenge the man in us to rise to the occasion. It helps to bring out the best in us by making us better people. It even helps us to value and appreciate God the more because it takes an adversity to humble us and also remind us of our place in the world as finite beings, that there are higher and superior forces that we are accountable to. It also takes an adversity to put us on our toes, to make us work hard, to become problem solvers, and so on.

As I said earlier, the Japanese kaizen is a model that if applied religiously would transform any individual, no matter his or her background or no matter how lazy he or she is because it does not demand much from people. All that is required is to work minimally but to keep at it; that is continuously improving on that you want to achieve. Don’t give up, and don’t allow yourself to be distracted.

For you to succeed in life, you must have an elimination plan. You must eliminate all forms of distractions. You must eliminate everything that would reduce your speed and level of concentration. You must be focused and determined to achieve that goal that you have set out to achieve.

Once you can shut out all the critics, all the mockers, and endure the pains and hardship because the reality is, it would not be easy, success would be your own for keeps. Once that happens, those who cursed you would begin to bless you. All those who mocked you would begin to praise you. All those who wanted you extinguished would want you distinguished.

Believe it with your whole heart that this is achievable. Impossibility means nothing to those who adopt the philosophy of continuous improvement in whatever they have chosen to do in life.

As the Japanese were able to do it as a nation with little land and no natural resources, just what is in their brain. I don’t see that situation, that circumstance, that adversity that you cannot overcome or make to submit to you if you use kaizen model.

Look at what Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the man behind Dubai, said of the impossible in his book, Flashes of thought, “Impossible is a word coined by those who do not want to work, or rather, those who do not want us to work. Impossible is nowhere to be found in the dictionary of the UAE. It is a word used by some people who fear to dream big. It is like chains that tie a person down, hindering his every move. It can confine a person like a great prison, preventing him from moving around, living life and achieving great heights….

The seemingly impossible is not a gauge of our strength and potential, but rather of our faith in ourselves, of our confidence in our capabilities and our beliefs. Do not ever allow the word ‘impossible’ into your life, because it would mean that you are weak, or that those around you are weak. That said, the truth is that there is no such thing as a person who is strong or weak – only a person who is willing or resistant.”


•Culled From One Of My Books, entitled, Look Forward And Lean less On Your Past






Peter Anosike is a well-known journalist and development economist


His book, Dangote’s Ten Commandments on Money (Lessons on How to Make Money from One of the World’s Richest Men), was rated as one of the best development books in the world by Wall Street Journal and FORBES. The book has been adopted as a workbook for grooming entrepreneurs by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN). Anosike’s other of his books include, How To Be The Best You Can Be and Look Forward and Lean Less On Your Past – all trending in Smashwords along with Dangote’s Ten Commandment on Money and How To Be The Best You Can Be. You can follow him on Facebook and Linkedin.

Society of Young Nigerian Writers launches campaign against rape, inaugurates steering committee

In a bid to join the fight against rape and violence against women, the Society of Young Nigerian Writers (SYNW), an umbrella body of young writers between the ages of 10 and 40 in Nigeria, has launched a new national campaign tagged ‘Raise Your Pen Against Rape And Violence Against Women’. It has also appointed a national steering committee to coordinate the project.

This was contained in a press statement jointly signed by the National Coordinator and Secretary of the movement, Miss Angelica C. Uwaezuoke, Coordinator University of Nigeria, Nsukka; and Mr. Innocent David Chinaecherem, Coordinator, Federal University of Technology, Owerri.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), according to the press statement, reported that in 2015, one in four girls and one in 10 boys in Nigeria had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18.

According to a survey by Positive Action for Treatment Access, over 31.4 percent of girls said that their first sexual encounter had been rape or forced sex of some kind.

SYNW said in its statement: “Also a four-year review of sexual assault cases at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) which began in 2008 and ended in December 2012, showed that out of a total 287 reported cases of sexual assault, 83% of the victims were below the age of 19.

“A one-year survey conducted at Enugu State University Teaching Hospital between 2012 and 2013 revealed that 70% of sexual assault victims were under the age of 18. In the Enugu survey, majority of the victims knew their perpetrators, and the assault occurred inside uncompleted buildings and the victims’ or perpetrators’ residence.

“As writers, our primary job is to reflect and interpret happenings in our society. We must also provide inspiration and guidance in our writings. Our job therefore is to inform, to explain, to narrate, and to persuade. The function of a committed writer is to reveal the world so that every reader loses her innocence and assumes all her responsibilities in front of it.”

The newly appointed committee members are to come up with a published electronic anthology to be titled 'Get Consent.' This anthology aims to combat violence against women and the abuse of women. It also change community attitudes to violence against women.”

Other committee members appointed to assist in the coordination of the newly established initiative include: Abdulrazak Denja Balema, Coordinator, Federal University Lokoja; Sakinah Yusuf, Coordinator, Bayero University Kano; Adebayo Iwalola, Coordinator, Adekunle Ajasin University; Chinwendu Chinonyerem Emmanuel Rays, Coordinator Alvan Ikoku College of Education; Eniola Anowo, Coordinator, Olabisi Onabanjo University; and Henry Ndifreke Precious, Coordinator, University of Abuja.

Others are Cynthia Chukwunenye Maduekwe, Coordinator, University of Calabar; Alabi Mathew Damilare, Coordinator, University of Lagos; Adebobola Victor Ademayowa, Coordinator, Federal University, Oye Ekiti; Ademola Ayomide Miracle, Coordinator, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta; and Yusuf Opeere, Coordinator, Federal College of Animal Health and Production Technology, Moor Plantation, Ibadan.

The rest are Kehinde Gbadeyanka, Oyo; Etumnu Emeka Williams, Imo; Ademola Oluwabukola Christiana, Federal Polytechnic, Ede; and lastly Ayegh Lubem (SYNW Benue).

The body also appointed Mr. Izunna Okafor (Anambra) and Mr. Muhammad Musa (Kano) to supervise the running of the project.

For more information about the Movement, kindly log on to:




Source: News Express

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