What unites large Japanese manufacturing conglomerates and individuals looking to live better lives?
According to Sidney-based speaker Stephanie Staples, both can and have benefited from Kaizen, the concept of continuous improvement.
“That’s one of the most powerful tools that I use to transform my own life and that I work with with clients,” said Staples, who offers this example.
Instead of setting a broad but loosely defined goal like improved physical fitness, individuals should focus on a smaller goal like a specific number of exercises as part of a routine, which over time then becomes a habit. “At the end of the month, you reassess it.” If it does not work, get rid of it. If it works, keep it and reapply, she added.
“Then just keep layering things on top of each other and that momentum makes a big difference,” she said. “This concept really works for people, because it makes it easy, doable, manageable within people’s already busy lifestyles.”
Staples had just such a busy life when she was working as a nurse. She was happy, but not ‘happy, happy’ as she writes on her website. “Everything was good,” she said. “I was working as a nurse. I was helping (people), but I just felt like something was missing, something wasn’t quite right. I didn’t know what was missing, but I felt for some reason unfulfilled or unsatisfied.”
Staples then entered the world of personal development. “I just started working harder on myself instead of waiting for a better time, a better circumstance, a better whatever,” she said. “I just thought, ‘This is what I have right now and this is the way it is.’ So I just started really focusing on what was going right, focusing on the things that I love, focusing on the things that I am good at, focusing on the things that brought me joy. So it was more of a perspective shift, a mind shift.”
Staples says she went into nursing because she wanted to help people, but it never felt like the right fit for her. “But when I started this business of being able to help other people, I still feel like what I am doing is nursing, just a different speciality. When I started helping people in this way, in a way that was more true and authentic and meant for me, that was a very big thing.”
Staples has now been sharing her personal story of transformation with audiences across North America and beyond as a certified speaking professional, whose client list includes leading car manufacturers, educational and medical institutions and countless associations representing professionals across a wide range of industries.
This international, interdisciplinary orientation of her speaking career gives Staples’ coming appearance in Sidney Nov. 10, billed as An Evening of Inspiration, a different flavour.
“It’s very, very unusual that I would speak, one for a hometown crowd, and two for a public event,” she said. “Usually, I would be brought into conferences and for corporations, that sort of thing.” Her nerves have already signalled that the evening is going to be special. “It’s slightly nerve-wracking to do it for your hometown, I will admit that as well.”
Staples will speak during a time when events around the world have jangled the nerves of many. Not surprisingly, Staples will give some room to the concept of self-compassion.
“Lots of people don’t even know that the word self can go before compassion,” she said. “We are so much harder on ourselves than other people. We expect much more of ourselves than of other people.”
Staples, in other words, wants people to be good to themselves, saying people should not hesitate to distance themselves from things and people who create unwanted feelings of anxiety, pressures or obligations. “I wanted to hang around people who wanted to make the world a better place, that weren’t complaining about everything all the time, that were sharing my joy when something went right and that I could share their joy when something went right,” she said.
Staples knows that saying goodbye to certain people marks a departure. “That probably sounds horrible, but that is the truth,” she said.
While it is unusual for Staples to speak before a hometown crowd, she won’t depart from her familiar, enthusiastic conversational style that eschews presentation aides. She may well break out in song.
“It’s not a stuffy presentation,” she said.
“There is enough bad news in the world and this is one evening of feel-good (and) do-good,” she added. “I want people to leave with a smile on their face, with some ideas in their pockets to feel happier, healthier and have better relationships.”
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