Scott Miker provides over 150 free articles on system and habit improvement techniques.
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.
We all have tendencies to think and behave in similar ways in similar situations. It could be that we always tend to act in a certain way in social situations or in relationships or when stress builds up.
Tendencies are natural and represent the systems and habits we have already developed and ingrained in our daily thoughts and actions. It is only when we have the tendency to do something detrimental to our growth and improvement that we notice these tendencies.
The quick fix has been around forever in one form or another and we all experience the attraction to the quick fix from time to time.
It could be at work to overcome a problem that comes up and we see an easy shortcut around the problem. It could be that we want to make more money and get sucked into a multilevel marketing program without fully investigating the products you sign on to sell. It could simply be that a problem surfaces and we see a quick way to relieve the symptoms of the problem.
Systems are all around us. Everything we see, interact with, think about etc. is part of multiple systems.
In fact, we are systems. The human body is a system made up of many systems. And we create systems and are impacted by systems around us.
Being proactive is a buzzword that goes around from time to time. It usually comes up when someone thinks that a person is just sitting around waiting for problems to surface before they take action.
Being proactive usually aligns with working hard and getting in front of problems. But too often it just becomes another cliché that can be used whenever someone wants to criticize another person.
One of the obstacles for someone working to try and improve to reach a goal is burnout. Burnout happens when you use up energy and motivation to make things happen but then slowly start having less and less energy and motivation to keep going.
Many times this happens to me when I am using high energy but seeing a lower return on the investment of my time and effort. I assume the harder I work the more I will get in return or the further along the journey I will get.
All of us are influenced by many factors. Everything we do has more to it than we probably realize.
Take your morning routine. Yes you wake up, do what you have to do to get ready for work or school and then start your day.
Knowing yourself is important. We have to learn about our strengths and weaknesses and our tendencies to act in specific scenarios.
Some people tend to hesitate before they jump into something. They know they need to do something so they plan and plan. They evaluate. They think about the problem at a high level.
Continuous improvement is the opposite of change for the sake of change yet many people confuse the two. They assume constant flux and change is the same as continuously improving upon a process, but it most certainly isn’t the same.
In a business environment this could be similar to saying that every time a company has to create a motor for a car they try something different. This is change for the sake of change. Continuous improvement is to develop a standard process and look to constantly evaluate the process to see if there are better ways. Then we test those ways and if they do result in a better process, we standardize that.
We all use habits and reflexes throughout our daily lives. We take a behavior or a thought and we produce that behavior or thought over and over again.
But most people have no idea that this happens. Instead they focus so heavily on events that they miss the patterns they create. In effect they create powerful underlying reflexes that determine their life, yet they are distracted by the one-offs in life and they don’t even realize it. This leaves them feeling powerless when they have, in fact, incredible power to create the patterns that they choose.
Yesterday I read an article online about employee disengagement. Some researchers searched for reasons why employees are disengaged at work.
They interviewed workers all over the world and then summarized their findings. They said employees feel undervalued. They said employees want credit when they do a good job instead of management jumping all over mistakes but ignoring successes.
Everyone looks at the world a little differently. Our beliefs, experiences, and upbringings all play a role in how we view the world.
Some may view the world as being led by an invisible force. They envision a person up above making all decisions. A traffic light turns red right as we approach it and this deity must be the reason. We get a good grade on a test in school and it must be due to him or her.
In business we often form multilevel systems to manage the operations of the business. A sales person at a retail store is responsible for doing the work, in this case selling the product. They spend all of their time trying to get customers to buy the products that the business sells.
A level above the sales person is the store manager. They oversee multiple sales people to make sure that they address underperforming sales people and coach them up. They make sure that the team is performing at an optimal level and doing what they can to motivate employees and teach them how to be successful at doing the job.
Use these tips to overcome the three top reasons that we quit when we set a goal or New Year's Resolution.
In order to reach your goals and be successful you need to attack that moment that determines whether or not you do the right things that will ultimately determine success. If all that stands in your way of success is that moment then put all of your focus in overcoming that moment. Don’t get distracted with potential results. If you are able to do this, you will be amazed at what you can become!
The success or failure of a leader is directly related to his or her leadership systems and habits. Some people refer to it as their leadership style or their leadership capabilities but the reality is that leadership is not simply a style that you adopt or a set of credentials.
We don’t set goals to keep doing something that we already do. We set goals to challenge ourselves and move in a new direction. Yet we probably don’t realize that there is a pattern to goal-setting and for many of us, it isn’t leading to success.
Watching Monday night’s College Football National Championship game is a great lesson in perspective. Most people see the accomplishment of the Ohio State Buckeyes and understand just what the win means for the school. Winning the National Championship in the manner that they did was impressive, but what is more impressive is how prepared they were for each of the final three games.
7 unusual tips for getting back on track when you struggle to achieve your goal.
New Year's Resolutions have an incredibly high failure rate. Change your perspective in order to start building meaningful change this year.
One aspect of self improvement is especially difficult for people, including myself. Usually we know exactly what we want and set a goal to achieve it. We also know what it will take to reach that goal. Somehow we still miss our goal...
There is a concept in psychology called Transactional Analysis. It describes human behavior and attributes much of our lives to the those around us in our childhood. It is fascinating work that provides insight into the human mind and how we process the information around us...
Innovation, flexibility, spontaneity or creativity are not the opposite of systems and habits, they are the step after systems and habits have formed...
Last night, while watching the NFL Monday night pre game show, I heard Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young say that the Jets’ quarterback needs to “work until it becomes reflexive recall.” He emphasized that performance on the field was directly related to the ability to strengthen proper habits during practice. This way, when it comes time...
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.