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  • Brian M Winningham

Continuous Improvement for Life

April 2021

Continuous Improvement isn't just a way to work; it is best and most successfully used when it becomes a system for successful living. My youngest sister, who is brilliant beyond words, continually reminds me of this. She understands continuous improvement on levels I am only beginning to grasp. CI along with help from some other very wonderful people and processes saved my sister’s life and I'm thankful. CI is saving my life too.

My dad was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early February 2021. He had it for a month before my sisters and I found out. He had gone to the doctor but then abandoned his medicine before it was complete because it was making him nauseous and sick to his stomach. He ended up getting very, very sick. My step-mom called me because she was worried and the next day I drove the 10 hours to where he lives to see if I could help. I had gotten my first vaccine shot and felt reasonably well protected since Dad had been sick for such a long time. CDC says that most folks stop shedding live virus after about 14 days (not a coincidence that this is the time they recommend for quarantine.) CDC Guidelines

We started dad on a regimen of breathing exercises & walking every hour or so and we enhanced his fluid intake with electrolytes. It didn't look great for the first few days. My third day there, I thought I would have to call 911. We finally saw his doctor again and were able to get his meds adjusted which also helped. We kept trusting the process and saw great improvement from that point on until I was finally able to head home. I had to quarantine and missed Easter with my family. Nothing has ever felt so good as to get the negative result on my pcr test and finally reunite with my wife and children. The whole thing was an experience I won’t ever forget.

It is also a great reminder of just how powerful the Continuous Improvement system is. We got dad the tools to make him more active in his own care, like a Pulse Oximeter and a personal steam vaporizer to help with his breathing exercises. We put together all of the supplements like Vitamin C & Zinc in a more visible space so that he would be reminded to take them. He started setting nap timers in Alexa (his improvement, not mine) so he could get up and move every hour. It is easy to see how continuous Improvement works in this instance. Dad went from very sick to recovering using these principals in just a few days.

What I find harder to master is remembering to apply the lessons of continuous improvement in my personal improvement goals. The less easy to define stuff around mental healing and growth are tough ones for me. Using a Continuous Improvement mindset in these areas can be really powerful. My shortcomings are usually tied up in lack of self-forgiveness. I tend to focus too much on my mistakes and not my progress. Sometimes it is difficult to obtain perspective. My sister reminded me today that failing isn't final. She reminded me that making the effort to learn and be better are reason to celebrate and reason for optimism. You have to look forward not backward. Tomorrow will be better, if I work to make today better. Continuous Improvement is a powerful tool for work, but it is even more powerful when used as a system to improve every aspect of your life.

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