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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.  

Keep learning through life

Scott Miker

One of the things that I have learned on the journey of constant improvement is that there is a lot of great insight in the world. The more I read the more I realize how there are some incredibly smart people in the world, willing to share their most prized knowledge.

For people like myself, we get hooked. We read and read and absorb as much as possible while gaining experience to help us form our own perspective based on many viewpoints.

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Learn to let go and allow

Scott Miker

One of the major pursuits of my life over the past 10 years has been to learn to let things happen more naturally. I see the value in learning to allow instead of control and the peace that it brings with it.

I first heard about the value of learning to allow and let go through Wayne Dyer. His books seemed to touch on this way of going through life in a flowing, peaceful, happy way that also brings with it success and achievement.

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Linear thinking makes everything complex while systems thinking makes understanding of the complex

Scott Miker

The world is complex. Every situation we find our self in has multiple variables that are adding to the eventual outcome. This means that it is easy to get overwhelmed by the complexity and fail to take appropriate action to move in the direction we desire.

Linear thinking tends to look at only two factors, such as cause and effect or beginning and end. When we think linearly we often can sense much of the system but try to keep our focus on the linear aspects as much as possible.

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I don't know

Scott Miker

I’m reading a great book right now called Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts by Annie Duke. Duke is a poker professional who goes into the way our mind thinks when faced with chance outcomes.

One section of the book dives into the idea of not knowing something. Duke explains that admitting when we don’t know something is frowned upon in most aspects of life, such as in our schooling. But admitting when we don’t know something is crucial to being able to make better decisions.

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Good luck

Scott Miker

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Diligence is the mother of good luck.” There is a saying that the harder one works, the more good luck they get. I’ve even heard someone once say that good luck is simply preparation meeting opportunity.

While these all may motivate us and convince us to keep working hard and doing our due diligence, the reality is that luck isn’t something that we can completely control.

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Getting sucked into temporal discounting

Scott Miker

If I were to offer you $100 today or if you wait one year I will pay you $250, which would you choose?

Most people would naturally choose the $100. We want the reward now, even if it is discounted compared to what we could get in the future.

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Don’t judge a decision by outcome alone

Scott Miker

If a friend came to you with an idea for a completely new type of website and said he was dropping out of a very prestigious college to chase his dream, what would you say?

Would you support him? Would you invest in him? Would you tell him he was crazy and that he should stick with college and do this as a hobby?

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I will do it when things change

Scott Miker

There is a phrase that gets used a lot by all of us. It seems innocent enough but carries with it a heavy block of cement that drags us under water over time.

The phrase can be tweaked to fit many different situations. We can use it to talk about going after our goals, fixing a problem in our life, or doing something we know we should do.

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Guard your time

Scott Miker

Time is precious. We only have so much time available each day. We only live once and if we waste away our life, we don’t get a do-over.

This means that we have to value our time and not let it slip away without our permission. We can’t let it escape or get stolen away.

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Form the gratitude habit

Scott Miker

For many people, they go through life feeling as though life is lacking and is a constant struggle. We go through the moments in our life feeling inadequate and fighting for what we feel we deserve.

Having this aggressive mindset can reinforce the feeling of constant struggle. But there is a better way. It involves feeling happy and content but still continuing to work hard to keep improving.

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We instinctively know how to use habit

Scott Miker

All animals, including humans, rely on habit to get through their day. The brain is wired in a way that allows us to flow through repetitive activities without conscious thought directing our actions.

When we brush our teeth or drive our car, we rely more on habitual movements than on conscious thought. When the traffic light turns green we naturally remove our foot from the brake and apply it slowly to the gas pedal. When we are driving and the light turns yellow, then red, we naturally and automatically slow down the vehicle to stop prior to the intersection.

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Focus on what you can control

Scott Miker

There are many things in life that we have no control over. In those instances it is easy to feel as though we don’t have control over anything.

But that isn’t the case. We have a great deal of control over the direction our life takes. We make conscious and subconscious decisions that impact the path we take.

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Business as usual

Scott Miker

The phrase business as usual is used a lot in the media. Many times it is used to describe the indifference of a company or individual who refuses to do the right thing. They put profit ahead of virtue and achievement ahead of taking a moral high road.

But I like to think of it a little differently. To me business as usual means we get back to the core actions. From a business perspective it means getting back to what it is that helped the company reach its level of success. From a personal standpoint, it means we get back to our habits and routines.

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Another flaw to setting goals

Scott Miker

Scott Adams is the creator of the Dilbert comic strip. He has experienced success and is known to be an avid systems thinker.

He promotes the idea of systems thinking and the benefits of thinking systematically instead of linearly. He has some great YouTube videos if you are interested in hearing his take on systems.

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Be creative and create the life you desire

Scott Miker

Being creative is something that most people attribute to artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs. They don’t think they are creative because they aren’t creating works of art or new businesses.

But this isn’t true. Everyone is creative. We all create many variables in our lives. We create opportunities; we create our habits; we create our daily routines.

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Working to change your habits takes time

Scott Miker

Whenever we want to change a habit in our life, we have to be patient and realize it takes time. It will take longer than we realize early on because if the habit is a positive one, it is likely going to be harder to get it to stick.

This is because the nature of habits. Habits tend to form when we have behaviors that get reinforced. If we decide to do something that provides instant, positive feedback, then we will be more likely to do it again. If it provides instant, negative feedback, then we will be less likely to do it again.

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With understanding comes simplicity

Scott Miker

Many times we view something as complex, simply because we don’t understand it. We don’t see how everything connects and interacts. We don’t see the full system, just a bunch of random details.

I love watching college football. I find it exciting and interesting to see how each team fares throughout the season and into the bowl season.

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Why do some people lose keys and some don’t

Scott Miker

Have you ever lost your keys and felt crazy because you just couldn’t find them? You checked all of the logical places but found nothing.

I think we have all lost our keys at one point in our lives. It could be due to a disorganized house, or sharing keys with someone else, but most likely the problem is much simpler than that.

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