What A Kaizen Leader Really Looks Like
One of my favorite stories about lifelong learning is attributed to Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo and a tenth-degree black belt. Mr. Kano is known as a role model who was committed to applying the Kaizen way of continuous growth in his personal, professional, and spiritual life. It has been told that on his deathbed, Mr. Kano, the highest-ranked black belt of his time, insisted that he be buried in his white belt instead of his normal black belt.
The Secret of the White Belt
A white belt was the sign of a beginning student, one who was still learning, just starting out. Jigoro Kano communicated a powerful message in front of all his students that day, one that they never forgot. Live life as a white belt. Stay humble, curious, and open to new opportunities to stretch and grow. Keep pursuing wisdom. Seek out instruction and correction so you can keep getting better. Even if you have accomplished much and have had a meteoric rise in your career, stay a white belt in your heart. Wise people keep learning and practice humility. They are teachable and open to the input of others. They’re not defensive. They don’t blame others. They define failure differently; white belts see failure as an opportunity to grow and improve.
Put On The White Belt
Let me encourage you: Don’t be afraid to try something new. Take a risk. Tackle a new challenge. Learn a new skill. Go deeper in your relationship with God. Love your family stronger. Expand your financial generosity to the poor and to the causes that God loves. Stand up for justice. Don’t approach life, love, or leadership as business as usual. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be willing to improve. Your current skill level may be good enough for today, but it won’t be adequate for next year. Become a Voracious Learner. Position yourself as an avid student of life. Keep sharpening your axe. Never stop growing. Put on a white belt!