Scott Miker provides over 150 free articles on system and habit improvement techniques.
When you start modifying your life using the systems and habits techniques I discuss, you will start to enter a strange space.
It will feel like you keep doing the same things and keep doing what you might not want to do but know you should do. At this point you will start to understand the value of consistency.
Most people look at events for most of their information. In systems thinking this means that they miss most of the important aspects of the systems and hone in on the most obvious manifestation of the system without even seeing the real system.
Peter Senge uses the concept of an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg is the event portion. That is the visible part of the system. The majority of the iceberg lives under the water. In systems thinking this includes the patterns, structures and mental models.
If your cup is full, you can’t add more. No matter how much you want to can’t add to something that is already full, you can’t.
The same idea can be found with knowledge. If we feel we know it all, then we aren’t open to new concepts and we don’t challenge our beliefs. This stops us from learning.
When I graduated from college I entered the real world. I was hesitant as I spent my college days having fun, rather than preparing for the years after.
When I graduated I was looking for a way to avoid the normal path of finding a job related to my degree to start building my career. So I kept working my retail job and looked into graduate school.
When most people evaluate some aspect of their life or business, they usually clarify their opinion about that area. They work through it in their head and start to judge what is right and what is wrong.
They start to turn the situation into a series of black and white aspects. They start to split it apart in their mind to see what is good and what is bad.
When you set out on an improvement journey and you take the approach of applying continuous improvement, you have to realize that it will take time to see significant improvement. It won’t happen overnight.
Continuous improvement is the strategy where we make very small improvements that builds up over time to become something significant. They don’t start out with massive overhauls that suddenly bring accomplishments. They start small and are usually not noticeable for a while.
My whole career I have witnessed employees who are striving for more responsibility at work. They want promotions and career success and are working hard to achieve those.
This has given me a front-row seat to the strategies people use to get ahead. Some come in early and work late, hoping the extra hours they put in get the attention of leadership. Some take complete ownership of their area of responsibility. If they are a project manager they won’t let anyone else near their area – they own it and if you want access then you have to go through them.
I hate the phrase do what I say not what I do. The idea behind this common phrase is that we know the right thing to do but we don’t do it.
But this isn’t that helpful. There is a reason why the person isn’t following his or her own insight. If they know what they should do but can’t get around to doing it, then they don’t really know what to do.
When you look at your life and where you want to go, ask yourself what path you are on. Are you confidently moving forward, progressing towards your idea of success?
Or are you spending your time moving further and further from your goals all the while unsure of why you keep moving further away?
I’m currently reading the book Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. It is a great book that dives into the thinking, perspectives, motivation, tools, etc. of very successful individuals.
My favorite one so far is the one on Scott Adams. Adams is the author of the Dilbert cartoon.
We all follow routines and process in life. We all follow similar patterns. This could be how we go to sleep at night, how we wake up, the drive we take to work, the way we drive our car, the way we respond to criticism, the way we strive to succeed, the way we respond to obstacles etc. etc.
But most people never pay attention to these. They just take them all for granted and don’t realize how powerful these are.
There is a saying that we need to take the good with the bad. Sometimes that is reversed and we say to take the bad with the good. The idea is that we have to understand that there is good and bad in everything and we can’t always separate out the good from the bad.
This aligns perfectly with systems thinking. In systems thinking we break away from seeing simple linear relationships to see the full, complex system. We see the various elements and how they all interconnect and interrelate.
From time to time I stumble upon an article on online that talks about passion. The narrative seems to be the same as other articles on the topic.
It starts by assuming the reading is unhappy in their current pursuits. The author argues that what is missing is passion and that the only way to find their passion is to quit their day job immediately to find this passion.
Everyone has a similar but different definition of success. Some people feel it is to achieve something great. Some people feel it is to create something. Some people feel it is about how much money or awards you obtain.
But however you personally choose to define success, learn to see the larger system around that success. Is that person causing those around them to suffer just so they can go after their dream? Are they making those around them better or worse?
If you have read many of my articles you know that I promote a technique I call set the minimum. The idea is that you set a ridiculously easy goal but commit to doing it daily.
This gets you started on the path of building a new habit. It is so small and easy that you actually stick to it. After doing it over and over it starts to become an ingrained habit and then you can add more to it once it is automatic and you aren’t using willpower any longer.
When we start to explore systems thinking we start to see the world differently. We don’t see events on the news in the same way. We don’t see relationships in the same light. We don’t see life with the same perspective.
The biggest change is to start to see the underlying systems for everything. We start to focus more on patterns than anomalies. We observe a recurring pattern where others see a brand new thing.
Have you ever been in an older arcade and seen the Whack-a-mole game? You have a big rubber hammer and the goal is to hit (whack) these little moles that pop out of holes. The more you can hit the more points you gain.
It is a fun game but it is amazing how many times I have heard managers talk about whack-a-mole in the work environment.
When I was younger I found myself ebbing and flowing through being happy, being complacent, and being unhappy.
It seemed like I would work hard and it would make me happy and I would accomplish things that were important. Then I would gain an entitlement mindset and feel that I shouldn’t have to work so hard to be successful.
The concept of setting the minimum is a systems thinking strategy for doing something over and over to form a habit. It involves setting a very small daily amount to do and then doing it over and over again.
The idea is that if we max out all the time and do something uncomfortable, we won’t continue to do it long enough to form a habit. So we find a very small piece of that max-out amount and do that over and over again.
What do you feel is important in your life to be successful? If you immediately jump to cliché thoughts of billions of dollars and traveling the world, I would caution you to dig deeper, a lot deeper.
For the most part, people that I have heard use these extreme levels of success as their goals tend to be so far away from pursing any of it that it almost feels like a lie.
The ability to communicate is a very important skill that too many of us ignore. This doesn’t necessarily mean the ability to give a formal speech without any grammar errors.
It means being able to take a thought in our head and convey that message to others. It could be in a negotiation, during a sales pitch, or even pouring out your heart for the one you love.
We all have to start where we are. We assume successful people started with enormous advantage but often as we learn about successful individuals we learn that they had some advantages in life but their success was more related to their constant desire to improve.
I’m currently reading the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. I am fascinated to hear stories through his words and see that he spent years just working to make something of himself.
Many of my articles focus on making very small changes over a long period of time to be successful. We can examine the systems and habits in our lives and design them according to our goals and dreams.
But sometimes change can’t wait. It has to happen right away. It could be that we are headed in the wrong path and need to drastically improve in order to avoid danger.
When I was younger, I naively felt that what mattered was the destination not the journey. I thought sacrifice and discomfort were part of the journey and success and happiness were part of the destination.
Therefore, I worked hard but found myself miserable most of the time. So as I started to go through my high school and college years I started to shift my perspective.
When we talk about influential people throughout history I am always surprised at how the narrative around these people seems to solidify over time. It seems like everyone would agree that Hitler is bad and Gandhi was good.
I hate these overly simplistic judgments. We all seem to want these clear, easy-to-understand characteristics of people. But people are complex and it isn’t that simple.
I am always surprised when executives make the incorrect assumption that systems and processes are only relevant during execution, not in strategic planning.
They envision high level thinking and being so far outside the box that they can come up with unique ideas that disrupt their industry. They believe that the further away they get from the day-to-day operations the better equipped they will be to come up with a solution that gets away from the way it has always been done.
We all want to improve. We want better relationships, greater success, more freedom and increasing wealth.
But the behaviors that most people turn to are very low-leverage behaviors. They don’t rely on systems thinking and instead fall back on beliefs about change that may not be accurate.
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.