A Lean Life is a systems approach to life. Systems thinking is holistic where the sum of all the parts is more important that the parts themselves. People find it difficult to grasp the importance of the holistic view of life, because they have difficulty viewing their life ‘from end-to-end.’ Instead, we focus our attention on pockets of activity. We survive by learning from our experiences, but we don’t always connect the dots. There is a bigger picture out there, but not everyone can see it.
In order for a system to work to its optimal capability you need to understand purpose. You cannot live a Lean Life without any purpose. Purpose defines your life. It’s why you exist and what the output of all of your activity serves. To understand purpose you need to understand value. What value are you producing and for whom? Who are your customers? What do they need, and how can you deliver what they want, when they want it?
James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones first coined the term lean in their groundbreaking book The Machine that Changed the World, a study on the business principles of the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota. It wasn’t long before the term Lean Thinking was being used by manufacturing firms, desperate to reduce costs by eliminating waste and creating value-added activity, for all interactions along the supply chain.
Lean principles quickly moved from the world of manufacturing to the world of service and the Lean Life Habit Change Programme now sees those principles adapted to life itself. We kiss our family goodbye, and head into work with our ties tied tight. We switch into business mode where life is all about goals, objectives; customers, cost, eliminating waste and searching for value. We take no prisoners, we obey rules, process and procedures, and we get things done.
After leaving the world of business we get home, kiss our family on the foreheads, loosen that tie, kick off those black brogues and settle down to a life of stress. We worry about money, our relationships, our health, the past and the future. We allow this worry to fester and rot our thoughts, and we forget all about goals, objectives, process and value.
If you are not living a Lean Life then you are probably managing isolated inefficiencies and problems. You will become an expert at putting out fires whenever they start sending smoke into your face. A Lean Life practitioner defines purpose, creates goals and process and sets about improving the entire system. Concentration is therefore applied to the whole system before paying attention to individual parts.
For most, this is a difficult concept to follow practically. We are all a by-product of the beliefs, values and convictions of those who had the most influence when we were raised. Our early childhood experiences created who we are today. Many people don’t ask anywhere near as many questions as they should about their life. Lean Life practitioners are forever asking questions.
We are raised to manage our life in individual silos. Lean Life is a way of breaking free from those constraints. Once you understand the purpose of the system, nothing will ever be the same again. If you are a business manager responsible for an operating budget, then your expenditure will have a reason; you do not willingly create a workplace environment that is not safe, and you do not allow your employees to come to work intoxicated through drink or drugs. So why should your life be any different? Why are we settling for the dregs instead of choosing a life of wondrous excitement?
When you can’t see the end-to-end system, and instead focus on silo management, you develop whack-a-mole syndrome. Each time you see a mole, you whack it, but another one instantly pops up. After a while you are exhausted, but the moles keep popping up demanding that you give them a whack. The tools and ideology behind a Lean Life helps keep you systemic. It takes away your hammer and instead provides you with a few grenades to sort the mole problem out once and or all.
If you are not a practitioner of Lean Life then you will have plenty of experiences of non-systems thinking. Perhaps, you gave up drinking but continued to spend more money than you earned? Or maybe you decided to give up smoking, but stayed in a high-pressure job that gave you stress and made you miserable? Or perhaps you decided to go to the gym to keep fit and healthy but continued to drink five cans of soda a day?
If you manage these problems in isolation then you are prone to relapse. This sends you into a tailspin of anger and frustration, as you never quite manage to get things done. Confidence quickly ebbs away and you start to give up. Yet in a Lean Life you have more chance to succeed because of your end-to-end systems view. Your awareness is heightened and you realise that to give up drinking you also have to quit the very activities that were promoting the need to drink in the first place. Lean Life is all about the long term. Short-term pleasure is a very distant second best.
Are you interesting in living a Lean Life? If so why not contact Needyhelper@gmail.com to enquire about the six week Lean Life Habit Change Program?