“A highly successful electronics executive, this man compared perfect health to the kind of ‘breakthrough thinking’ that transforms corporations. Breakthrough thinking is a unique form of problem solving: it involves making a situation better by first raising your expectations much higher than anyone believes possible and then looking for ways to make your vision come true. ‘If people continue to think and act in the same familiar ways’ this man commented, ‘they may accomplish five to ten percent improvements by working harder. However, to get improvements of two to ten times, targets must be set high enough that people say, ‘Well, if you want that much improvement, we’ll have to do this an entirely different way.’ “
—-from Perfect Health:The Complete Mind Body Guide Deepak Chopra
As someone who is extremely interested in “lean thinking”, process flows, process improvements, and problem-solving in general as it can be applied to large-scale processes or daily activities, I was blown away by how I have failed to apply the same concepts to my health. To me, the transition of one to the other makes perfect sense. For example, I have noticed with myself, that I have broken my health issues into compartments – things that I want to fix right away, things that can wait, and things that are “nice to have”s but not necessary. Even when I talk to my Ayurvedic doctor and we discuss the holistic approach to health that Ayurveda embodies, there is some part of me that thinks I need to prioritize my symptoms and take care of them one by one, like checking items off a grocery list. I am very resistant to the idea that there is a one-stop solution for all bodily ailments, despite the fact that I can imagine clearly how this could be true.
After I read the above quote I realized that the best process fix is to revolutionize the whole tamale-set a really high goal which forces a complete re-thinking! Brilliant! This may still necessitate the breaking down of the whole into sections and dealing with them one by one, but the overall goal is one that affects it all.
So, how to go about this when it concerns my health? That is really the big question folks.
In the training I have received on how to facilitate events concerning the reduction of waste and the increase of efficiency in the workplace, the steps are as follows:
1. Identify all the key players that touch the process in question
2. Lock them in a room for a few days with a facilitator to drive the discussion
3. Create process maps for the way things are now
4. Identify gaps in the process (all using the language of ‘opportunities of improvement’)
5. Create tasks based on these gaps
6. Map out the new process
Having participated in/facilitated a number of these events I can definitely see in retrospect that the goals we outlined going in, set the stage perfectly for the ‘five to ten percent improvements’ mentioned above. They were more like spring-cleaning goals versus complete re-decorations. I wonder if this is what I have been doing with my health; puttering along making small tweaks here and there instead of setting a really high goal that makes me think completely differently. I am not talking here about running away to some ashram in India never to return, or becoming a level 6 vegan overnight (you know, the level where you can’t eat anything that casts a shadow?), but what about shifting the gears in the mind? What about choosing to look at things in completely different ways? Ultimately, is this even possible or are we doomed to return to our habitual patterns of thinking? I am hoping that the further I get into Dr. Chopra’s book, the more ideas I will have about how to proceed, but in the meantime the spring cleaning is underway and even if it’s not enough, chasing out the proverbial dust bunnies from under the bed is still better than doing nothing at all. Ammirite?