As I reflected on the PDCA cycle, I noticed that I had been doing this in my personal life already. I had been acting out the PDCA cycle in my weight training for the past year. First I had set goals and devised a plan to meet those goals. Then I executed the plan. After a number of weeks executing the plan, I would step back and see if things were really working. Was I executing the plan correctly? Was I eating correctly? Was I losing good form as a tradeoff to increasing weight lifted? I would ask myself many questions to evaluate whether or not the plan was working. In the end, based on my results (I had been tracking weight lifting, calories, weight loss, reps, sets, volume, and mood…things like this) I would determine if I would continue the plan or adopt a new one.
Being an analytical person, this makes perfect sense to me. It is something that my Mom does very well, take chaos and devise a plan and process about doing things so that there is no wasted time in it. To be honest, you can go to the gym and workout 5 days a week and never see much of a result from your efforts. I see people do this all the time. Thats fine, if you’re just looking to maintain your current level of fitness. When you start viewing life as a process of continual improvement in self though, its difficult to see this time spent as valued.
I am often reminded by the simplest things. Things that you hear once but strangely they stick with you. I do not know who told me this verse from the Bible, or where or even when but it rings through my head like a huge bell declaring triumphantly the time, “Whatever you do, do it for the Lord”. What it means to me is, whatever it is that you are doing, you can glorify they Lord by doing it to the best of your ability, by giving 100% every time. As I approach my limit on a task and beging to feel discouraged I may not succeed at it, I am reminded that God doesn’t call me to be the best at everything, but he does ask that I give whatever I am doing my best effort.
This is a very difficult thing to do 100% of the time. Sometimes life bears down on you and you may not feel like you have the energy to do this or that. You’ve got so much on your plate, you don’t know how to fit it all in so you decide to cut corners on one thing so that you can do another. You know what though, nobody sets out to do something just mediocre. I have not heard someone say, you know what, I think I want to play basketball good enough to ride the pine in the NBA, I don’t really want to be a starter, or a star. Or…I don’t really want to beat this video game, I just want to play it. What I think happens though is that at some point, you fall under adversity and decide to settle because you don’t have either the knowledge or the strength to proceed further. In other words, you’re no longer giving it your best effort.
PDCA then becomes a tool where, adversity falls to the wayside as you systematically creep closer and closer to your bigger goals. The Japanese call it Kaizen. In my example it doesn’t matter if you increase the weight lifted 2.5lbs a week or 10lbs a week. The idea is to keep increasing the lbs lifted each week and not decrease or stay the same. Move forward slightly numerous times and eventually, you will look back and see that you will have moved very far.
The Japanese think long term. I would encourage us as Americans to adopt this belief. To often we run before we walk because we want results yesterday. This only helps exacerbate our own lack of a disciplined nature. Results don’t come quick, we get annoyed, we give up before making any progress. Another verse is Phillipians 4:13, “I can do all things through He who gives me strength”. The key to this verse is on who’s timeframe are we speaking of here. To often we are thinking of this in terms of our own timeframe which is too fast!
I hope you’ve seen how an analytical person in one aspect views life. I am encouraged by the fact that apparently, “I can do all things through He who gives me strength”. The PDCA cycle provides a framework for personal continuous improvement and a road to accomplishing the aforementioned “all things”. I will continue to improve my disciplined nature through Collossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people”. Failure will not sting, because I will have given it my best. I understand that failure is a result of the PDCA cycle, a cycle that is not absolute when determining potential and because of this, failure is temporary. By being able to understand this concept I can step back, revise my plan and continue the PDCA cycle again in search of success.