Never stop investing. Never stop improving. Never stop doing something new. Make it your goal to be better each and every day, in some small way. Remember the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Small daily improvements eventually result in huge advantages.Bob Parsons

I made it to the Henninger Flats.

  • Granted, it’s not the hardest of hikes.
  • Granted, we started from the bridge and it’s only 3 miles.
  • Granted, I’ve done it before.

but… I made it.

  • I made it without my normal huffing and puffing.
  • I made it without feeling I’d exhausted every ounce of energy in my body.
  • I made it without contemplating if I’d be happier if I just threw myself off the side of the mountain.

Today, in a moment of spontaneity, I asked Jess if she wanted to hike Henninger. And within an hour, we had started our trek up the mountain, water bottles and Whole Foods sandwiches on our back.

Almost exactly a month ago today, I did a similar hike, Linda Falls in Angwin, CA and the outcome was much different. The group I was with looked back at me, concerned if they had to carry dead weight up the mountain.

One of the many things I learned from my previous job, from my scrummaster, Greg, was the concept of Kaizen. I mentioned this in my last post.

Kaizen can mean a lot of things for different people, companies, but to me, the meaning boils down to what Bob Parsons, founder of GoDaddy, essentially said in the above quote, “continuous improvement“.

Jess and I decided to make a concerted effort to exercise every day. It’s been hard; I don’t think a day goes by without some part of my body being sore. And to add insult to injury, although I’ve even cut excess calories from my diet, I’ve managed to gain 4 pounds in the process.

But there I was,

  • today, on the top of the mountain, halfway thinking I could hike another couple miles.
  • I was running around the bases in a softball tournament on Sunday without gasping for air.
  • I was winning the home run derby.

A lot of times, it’s tough to improve because it seems like there’s not enough time. Maybe it seems daunting because it seems mountains are too big to hike.

But it’s about taking the first steps, starting, slowly filling the bucket of improvement. And before any one realizes, mountains are scaled.

The other day I heard an interview on ESPN of a former athlete (for the life of me, i can’t remember who it was). After his playing days were over, he became something like a physicist or something (gotta love my attention to detail). The interviewer asked him how he had the time to learn so much. He said,

I spend less time doing nothing.
Some Smart Guy on ESPN

Simple advice, but difficult to follow. Simple advice, but difficult to follow.

I’ve taken this advice and Kaizen to heart and I realized it’s working.

  • I may not be seeing improvements on a day to day, but when I look back, like on the hike on Henninger, I can see I’ve gone a long way
  • I’ve rekindled my passion for learning because I can see my improvements.

Lastly, as a programmer, I’ve obviously applied this new look on life to my coding. I’ve made an effort to push at least one thing a day to git. I currently have a streak of about a month. I’ll admit, not every day has been an earth-shattering change to the project I’ve committed to, but here’s a few things I’ve learned.

  • the basics of iOS programming (Swift); implemented a clicker and a sound recorder
  • JSON web tokens and why they’re important; implemented into my side project
  • Cleaning data for data science

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I’m going to be sore tomorrow.

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