Information on systems thinking and how to use the systems and habits approach to improvement.
When problems arise, we all want to better understand the problem. We likely think about it and come up with a solution to the problem.
If we start to feel ill, we run to the store for some cold medicine. If we don’t have enough money to buy the car we want we finance it through credit. If we get diagnosed with high cholesterol or high blood pressure we get prescribed something to lower it for us.
Systems thinking has been around for quite some time and evidence of thinking in systems has been around for centuries. The reason is that we can’t really fragment our existence the way we once thought we could. Instead of a bunch of unrelated components we are actually experiencing a larger system of systems.
But seeing this can be tricky if you have never looked beyond the linear relationships we see initially. We always want to associate things through cause and effect, beginning and end, inside and outside etc. But by limiting the world to these simpler perspectives, we often miss important elements.
Most of us hate to struggle. We don’t want a difficult life we want things easy. That is why we daydream about winning the lottery so we don’t have to work. We want to get rid of the challenging aspects of life.
But it is through struggle that we grow. It is challenges that keep us learning. It is from hard work that we can keep getting better and better.
There is something in systems thinking called a feedback loop. Feedback loops are a structure where the output of something is fed back into the input. Then it starts to magnify as it goes through the loop of output to input to output to input etc.
One example can be found by the classic saying, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”
Recently our refrigerator started to break down. We noticed it one Saturday morning when we started making breakfast and realized much of the food in our freezer was thawed.
We tried to troubleshoot the problem but realized quickly that the 11-year old unit was probably not worth saving. It was more economical to replace it rather than pay someone to come fix it.
Jim Rohn says, “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.”
I like this quote. It speaks the fact that success is about what we do, not just what we want. It isn’t about our dreams; it is about our action towards our dreams that count.
Using the systems and habits approach to improvement can help you achieve goals and improve over time. Depending on many factors, the pace of getting better varies and can be faster for some and slower for others.
The principles of using systems to improve may give a general framework of what to do and how to approach goals, but it isn’t some magic button. It isn’t something that just happens instantly from learning something new; it is a slow, methodical process that results in increased performance and production.
As we evolve we are changing the world around us. Though history we can see the shifts from being wandering cave people to living in an air conditioned home and working 9-5.
The change has drastically reduced many of the immediate threats to our personal existence. Instead of being eaten by a hungry animal we are more likely to die of cancer or heart disease.
One of the benefits of systems thinking is that we start to see a higher-level view of things. Instead of focusing on one aspect of a system, we can see multiple interacting aspects.
This shows us that there are often good and bad elements present. There aren’t many systems that are only good or bad. Even a negative system likely still has positives.
We all go through periods where things are confusing. We find ourselves stuck and don’t know what to do in order to get past some obstacle or problem in our lives.
These times are important because what we decide to do will have reverberations in other areas of our life. But we also are usually full of anxiety and stress, which can cloud our thinking.
Most people overlook the little things in life. They see a major goal or dream of theirs and assume that it is too big to do anything to try and achieve it.
So they don’t do anything productive towards that goal. It just sits there in their mind. Sometimes it sits for years; sometimes it sits for their entire life.
When you get to a point in life where you realize you want better than what you have, you have to make a decision. The decision before you is to start doing something or to justify not doing something.
Plenty of us get to this decision point and freeze. We let fear jump in and grab onto real obstacles to create something too big to overcome. It is this combination of real challenges combined with our emotional response of fear that stops most people from working to improve their life.
When you start out using the systems and habits approach to improvement you may just have a single goal that you are trying to reach. You may have one area that demands change so you turn to this approach to help you get there.
But one of the benefits of using this approach is that you start to simplify many aspects of your life. Life is complicated and it can quickly and easily get to a point where you don’t know who you are because you want to be too much.
Linear thinking is when we think in terms of two factors. We think of before and after, start and finish, cause and effect. But linear thinking strips out important elements of the system in order to achieve its simplicity.
The simplistic view might seem to make sense but often when it gets applied to “the real world” it doesn’t behave the way we expect. Instead we find that factors that we didn’t anticipate become the factors crafting the change or lack of change.
Studying systems thinking provides insight into areas of life that often seen confusing or unclear. They give a better understanding of what is really going on.
One element of systems thinking is the feedback loop. Feedback loops come in many variations but simply put, feedback loops take outputs from the system and then put them back into the system as inputs.
This website has been developed to help you understand the power of systems and habits in your life and then take action to build the person that you want to become. There are over 70 free articles, 1 free eBook, and free videos and links to other system and habit experts.