The Kaizen Newsletter #46 (19/05/2020) - 5 Lessons I've learned from watching Haikyuu!!

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If you've been reading my newsletters pretty consistently for the past couple of weeks, you would've noticed that I mentioned the word "Haikyuu" a lot.

So what exactly is Haikyuu? Well, to put it simply, Haikyuu is a volleyball anime that I've been greatly enjoying recently. But the reason why I consider it to be one of my favourite animes ever is much more than that. Here's a comment that I found on Youtube that describes perfectly why I love the show.

It actually has everything you would ever want in not just an anime, but any show.

What really makes it great though is all the small lessons that are taught in Haikyuu that you can actually learn from and apply them in your every day lives and I thought it would be fun to share a few with you.

So let's dive in!


Surround yourself with high-energy

A lot of VCs say that one common characteristic found in people that achieve great things is something they call a "high-energy".

As an example, these are some characteristics that Ryan Kulp looks for in founders when he's investing in a company.

Although people say that having high-energy is an important characteristic, I never truly understood what it meant.

But after seeing Hinata, the main character from Haikyuu, you can really see how his high-energy can completely transform a team for the better and how infectious it can be.

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Even in dull moments such as a normal practice, you will see that Hinata is always jumping around and fired-up about playing volleyball and it raises everyone else's spirit and creates a great atmosphere to be in.

Another example is Bokuto, a character who appears later in the series. He is also someone who brings high-energy and this quote from his teammate demonstrates the impact of having someone of high-energy on your team.

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So one thing I learned from Haikyuu is that you definitely want to be or at least surround yourself with someone who is high-energy.

Find yourself a rival

I'm a pretty competitive person, so even though you're told to focus on yourself and try to become the best version of yourself, I get way more motivated and competitive when I see people around me improving and that are actually close to surpassing me or have already surpassed me.

I don't have one rival per se, but in every important area in my life, I try to have one person that I am competing with either directly or indirectly.

In general, I would say that I consider my brother to be my "main rival" because even though we are 4 years apart, I always feel him breathing down my neck and even if I want to see him succeed, I definitely want to make sure he doesn't surpass me. In writing/newsletters, it would be Shanu, in everyday life, it would be Topa and Cheetah, in training/gym it would be Chan, in hockey it would be Kit and Jo and in product it would be NGL.

In Haikyuu, you can really see how having a rival can push you (and your rival) to greatness. Even if Hinata and Kageyama are actually teammates, they also consider themselves rivals and always try to out best each other in anything they do. Even outside of volleyball.

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I don't believe this works for anyone, but if you are remotely competitive, I would highly suggest you find your rivals.

Find what is play for you which is hard work for others

This saying actually comes from Naval. He says that we should build on specific knowledge that will feel like play to you but will look like work for others. The reason why you want to this is that even if things start to get hard (it will eventually), then you would easily be able to push through since you love it so much, whereas others that don't have that same fire as you, will have more difficulty to push through.

This is one theme that we constantly see over and over with Hinata and Kageyama. Although they are both naturally gifted players, you see them practice every single minute they can.

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You can really see how much they love volleyball and want to be the best that they can be. They live and breathe volleyball and that's why they eventually outgrow all of their peers.

What I learned is that you should also find what is your "volleyball".

It's ok to fail

I've been very open with my fear of failure, and one of the reasons why I enjoy watching Haikyuu is because it normalizes failure and shows the importance of failure in growth.

What I love about this anime is that they really make the time to explore every character that is playing on the field. Every person has their own ambitions and reasons why they want to win, but at the end of the day, only one side of the court will walk away as a winner.

Even if you want Karasuno (Hinata's team) to win, victory always feels bittersweet since you also get attached to the characters from the other team and a part of you also wants to see them win.

But the lesson learned is that not everyone can win and that's okay. Wants important is how you bounce back once you fail. To feel that this quote from Takeda, one of the Karasuno coaches really sums it up nicely:

Does losing prove that you are weak? Isn’t losing difficult for all of you? A challenge where, after ending up on your hands and knees, you must see if you can stand up again? If you stay on your hands and knees, that proves that you are weak. – Ittetsu Takeda

Surround yourself with people that are much better than you

I believe that one mistake I've made early on in my career is that I tried to optimize for the $$$ instead of optimizing for learning. Although I'm slowly getting out of it, I definitely believe it slowed me down in my learnings (TBH, I probably could be making a lot more now if I sacrificed $$$ amount earlier on in my career).

Early-on in your career, the most important thing you can do is surround yourself with people that are much better than you. You shouldn't concentrate on the money, but instead having many learning experiences.

Hinata is a perfect example of why you should be doing this. In one of the later seasons, even if Hinata doesn't get called to any youth camps, he offers to be a ball boy because he truly values being in an environment where he can see the best play against each other. Even if he's not playing himself, he still finds a way to help others and also find things he can do to improve his game as well.

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Learning from people that are better than you is priceless. To create these opportunities and make it count.


I actually had super fun mixing two things I love in self-improvement and anime. Hopefully, you got to learn something from this and if you did enjoy this, I would definitely recommend you start watching Haikyuu as well (I mean, what else are you going to do in quarantine?)

If you have any friends that enjoy anime, feel free to share this post with them as well.

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Weekly Favourites

📃 Articles

  • A day is a war, not a battle - I'm a very all-or-nothing person so if I start my day well, do my morning routine, journal and start checking things off my to-do list, then I usually end up having a really good day. However, if I lack sleep, or start procrastinating on Twitter instead of working - then I will most likely not do anything for the rest of the day. And that's because I treat my day as one single battle instead of thinking of it as a war. I tell myself "welp, I already lost the battle - so I'll just throw in the towel for the rest of the day". Instead, I should tell myself "fuck! I lost one battle, but that means I'm definitely going to win the next one!" and start working instead.

  • Your Productivity B-Roll - I think this article by Ryan Kulp is a great compliment to the article above. He mentions that sometimes your energy is so low that you really just want to watch Netflix or browse on Twitter. This is what he calls his "Productivity B-Roll". And when that happens, he suggests doing activities to bump you up a level so that even if you start at energy level 0 (aka you want to blow your brains out) you can eventually get to energy level 8 (Productivity A-Roll).

🎙 Podcast

  • Tobi Lutke - Building a Modern Business - Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify, is one of the few people that whenever they release something new, I immediately need to listen/watch it because I know I'm going to be learning something from it. In this podcast, he talks about lessons he's learned from video games, how we travelled into the future because of COVID, what he's learned from personality tests (and much more).

🐦 Tweets

  • I relate to this so much. Every time I think I can explain something I just see a vomit of words on a white screen.

  • For all of you also playing animal crossing.

  • This is at the same time really scare but also really cool

  • I'm definitely in crew dog > cat, but I have to admit that this is pretty cool

🙏 Shoutouts

  • Shoutout to the badger crew of Jon, Nadine, Greg and Marc. Really awesome to finally catch up and see what's up. Special mention to Marc for his sick music on Spotify (Listen to Reaching You it's amazing).


👋 End Note

If you want to know what I'm up to now, you can check it on my website here.

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