5 days of S-mas: Sustain

Our final “S” is “Sustain!”  In a machine shop this is generally implemented in the form of reviewing how the other 4 “S”s are functioning within the shop, determining if they can be improved, and developing a process to do so.  The idea is to maintain and improve upon the positive changes that have already been put into place with the 5S process.

For our purposes, this means reviewing how the changes in “Sort”, “Straighten”, “Shine”, and “Standardize” have helped us implement positive change in our thinking and lives, and seeking to build on that.  Three steps to do that are as follows:

1)Check in often

Places of manufacturing are often subject to regular checks by OSHA and other governing bodies to ensure they’re meeting certain standards.  Additionally, there will generally be some internal audits to find and address issues before they become major problems.

This same principal can be applied to your mental processes.  You should set a schedule for checking in with yourself and ensuring you’re where you need to be.  If you are: great!  Keep going.  If not: step back for a bit to recoup, then try again.  Once you’ve done an initial check in, remedied any problems you were facing, and are ready to move forward, make sure to aim for consistency as outlined in the next step.

2)Prioritize consistency over speed

Consistent small improvements are better than huge changes follow by regression.  Ideally, you want to be continuously improving.  The best way to do this is actually to improve so slowly that it’s imperceptible – a process James Clear has termed “habit creep”.  The key to implementing this strategy is to focus on one habit at a time, and then move super slowly towards making it a consistent part of your life.

Interestingly enough, for best results with this protocol, you don’t want to focus on the result at all! You want to focus on the implementation: making a small daily improvement to your thought processes.  Pick one habit you want to start, and do the smallest amount possible – meditate for just one minute, identify and eliminate one invisible script that’s holding you back, say hello or smile to just one person.  Add a little more the next day, and a bit more after that.  You’ll be shocked at where you are a month from now!

3)Think improvement over mastery

Mastery of skills is admirable, and seeing others at that level is often the very thing that inspires us to start!  But if you focus exclusively on mastery, you’re going to get discouraged, feel disappointed, and you’ll very likely quit (or discourage yourself before you even start!)  The key with this step is to use your “check ins” to compare where you were to where you are now and reward yourself for it!  There’s no benefit to comparing where you are now to where “the greats” in your field stand.  You can look up at them every so often for inspiration, but don’t hold yourself to standards that you simply haven’t had the time to reach.  Focus on consistency, reward yourself for improvement, and mastery will come on it’s own 🙂


Well, this wraps up the 5 Days of S-mas, I hope you’ve found them helpful.  Comment below with one 5S step that helped you improve your thinking, and how you implemented it!





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