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It is easier to see system problems in others than in us

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

It is easier to see system problems in others than in us

Scott Miker

It is really easy to find fault in others.  Nobody is perfect so it is extremely easy to point out things that we don’t like about others or things that others are doing wrong.

But there really isn’t any value in that.  In fact, by doing that, we tend to quickly shift blame when things go wrong in order to bypass any responsibility.  But this responsibility is exactly what we need in order to improve.

The best way to improve is actually to get away from judging others and instead look realistically at what we can control.  In almost any situation we have some responsibility but if we can’t honestly look at our part we can’t improve.  Instead we see ourselves as perfect, which prevents us from being able to address any weaknesses or any room to get better. 

It can be a very difficult shift to make.  In order to switch from defensiveness to openness to failures, we have to be able to take information and keep our emotions calm.  Emotions tend to influence our thinking and it will be much more difficult to think rationally if we can’t calm down our emotions.

Think about the last time someone blamed you for something, or something didn’t go your way, or you failed at something.  What was your response?  

In many cases we can probably come up with a few scenarios where something went wrong but we can justify it by saying someone else was at fault. 

Now, try to look deeper.  Was there anything that you did that played any role in the outcome?  Was there responsibility for leading others to do something and they failed?  Sometimes the responsibility is indirect, such as not providing your staff enough information to make the correct decision. 

If we are extremely honest, hopefully we can start to see how we are partially responsible for the outcome.  The key is to see that objectively and not judge the situation too soon.  Now, think to yourself, was there anything I could have done differently that might have changed the outcome in any way?

If after some reflection you still feel 100% absolved of any responsibility, then you probably have a difficult time owning up to things.  Not being able to see your own flaws is a weakness and will hold you back. 

But hopefully this isn’t the case.  Hopefully, you see the situation a little differently and can find some areas that you could improve.  It doesn’t have to be complete responsibility over the situation yet; it just has to be enough to then focus on improving. 

The most important part is after you see some areas that you need to improve.  This will help you in the future to keep your emotions calm and will help you own up to situations more often. 

In order to start to change this, you have to put in place a way to improve.  You have to develop a system, process or habit that you can grow that will prevent the same mistake from happening again. 

I prefer to use the systems and habits approach to improvement here.  It provides insight into how we improve by looking at very small changes that we can make over and over again until they become habit. 

Once you start to improve on these areas you will start to see situations differently.  Instead of looking for who is to blame, you shift to looking at how you can implement a system that will prevent this issue from coming up again.  It will be much easier to see your own fault and move quickly to fixing the problem, rather than spending all of your effort on defense strategies. 

Most people seem to go through life and plateau.  They don’t continue to improve.  They simply keep going and doing what they have always done.  But there is a better way.  There is a way to improve throughout life and continue to grow and mature.  This will lead to new success and a confidence that will never come if we don’t work to improve the things we struggle with and grow the things in which we already excel.