Kaizen and the Art of Personal Maintenance

There is a sushi restaurant by my apartment that quickly became a favorite place of mine to frequent. Perhaps it is because I can walk to it, though others say the roll selection is solid. I also love that whenever I walk in they yell “Hey there, Soy Paper,” a nod to my distaste for seaweed in my sushi.

The place is called Kaizen. Little did I know, I loved the name almost as much as I loved my nickname. You see, over this summer, I learned about the Japanese concept of kaizen.

To the best of my understanding, the actual meaning of the word versus how people use it today varies a bit. Commonly when people talk about kaizen today, they are referring to a business concept. It effectively translates to “perpetual improvement.”

Perpetual improvement.

I did not realize it until learning the word, but most of my behavior is dictated by kaizen. In my life, I am driven by a fairly nagging desire to be better than I am. I seek out endless books and movies desperate to be more well-read and more cultured. I try to dress nicer to be more stylish.

This rears its head most shortly after a break up. My subconscious reckons I won’t have to endure heartbreak again if I can simply be a better person and attract a better mate. Making time for hair appointments and the gym. Learning a new hobby. Replacing old furniture. All the while, a little voice in my head endlessly whispers the mantra:


Which is why there is an element of my fellow writers that always kind of perplexed me. I’m someone who yearns for editing, loves feedback, and constantly wants to know how to get better.

If anything, I appreciated the corrections more than the compliments. They are more honest. If someone is really bothered enough by something to share it, I always at least take the time to consider, even if I may disagree.

In the poker world, not many of us have the luxury of an editor. And trust me, that is a luxury, particularly when live reporting. When I live report, I am usually in such a rush to get back on the floor, I barely have time to glance through my own post for errors, let alone look at what my peers are writing. When you are writing literally thousands of words in a day, typos are inevitable. Turn cards get missed.

So, even when players are a bit snotty about these errors, seemingly unaware that typos are pretty unavoidable given the nature of the gig, I am grateful when these typos get pointed out to me.

Others though are…well, they are a bit more sensitive. Admittedly, the tone in letting us know about these typos leaves a lot to be desired in the respect department. The fundamental truth remains the same though:

Someone is telling you exactly how to make your post better.

I wish I knew exactly what to change in order to make this blog take off enough to be my livelihood. I would probably drown a puppy if it meant someone told me what part of my personality keeps me from finding that person in the world I am supposed to be with forever. In a life filled with constant problems and challenges where it is incumbent on me to figure out a solution, I often wish there was an easier way.

My quest to frequently improve, to always at least try to be better is hard enough. So, when someone actually tells me exactly what I could do to make something better, I am elated.

Keep in mind I may not always agree. I often don’t. I will spend the rest of life telling people there is no poker live reporting title stupider than the lead-burying “John Doe Eliminated in Second Place.” But the first time someone suggested it to me, I was at least ready to listen. I considered it, for at least a few minutes, then concluded that I do not believe it is so important to give the runner-up a moment in the spotlight if it meant compromising the biggest story, which is who won.

I look around social media, and I see that we, on the whole, are really bad at listening when someone makes a suggestion. People get defensive. They immediately decide the more important thing is to stand up for themselves when someone questions them.

Those who know me are well aware I have no issue sticking to my guns. Stubborn is probably a more fair description, honestly. But I would like to at least hope I have a reputation for taking time to consider the other side.

Because honest feedback is hard to come by, I would not be doing a good job with my kaizen to put up the kind of front that suggests to people that I do not want to hear it. By doing my best to be open to it, I learned:

  • I can be wordy
  • My sentences can lack definitiveness
  • I am a recovering emdash addict
  • I probably overshare

Just remember, there will always be baseless criticism. But it is so worth it to wade through the negativity and find the well-intentioned suggestions. They are gifts, you just have to recognize that yourself and be open to them.

Be open to suggestions.

Be open to trying a little harder.

Be open to kaizen.


2 thoughts on “Kaizen and the Art of Personal Maintenance

  1. Here’s one for you Jess. Wouldn’t “I probably overshare more than I should” be better expressed as ” I probably overshare” or “I probably share more than I should” ?


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