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Don’t change the wind, change your sails

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.  

Don’t change the wind, change your sails

Scott Miker

There is a famous quote by Jimmy Dean that speaks to change a little differently than many quotes.  In a previous article I discussed change and explained that change is helpful at times but the value of consistency is often overlooked.

Jimmy Dean said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

I really enjoy reading and thinking about that quote.  There will always be factors outside of our control but it is up to us to make the necessary adjustments to keep moving forward. 

One of the reasons that I have focused my life on improving the systems and habits is that, to me, this is the only way to truly grow regardless of outside factors.  I know a lot of successful people and more often than not realize that their success was due, in large part, to outside factors.  But the ones that can do it again and again and be successful in multiple areas of their lives do so because they understand what it takes to be successful. 

This doesn’t mean that they have the greatest work ethic or even that they are good, moral people.  It means that they understand that to accomplish something they have to do the up-front work necessary in order to put them in the best position to succeed. 

Another quote that inspires me is by Milton Berle.  Milton Berle said, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”

The other way that outside factors could take us away from reaching our goals happens when we assume an outside factor should be different than it is.  We start a business and realize that people are not interested in the new product we thought everyone needed.  Or we start to eat healthy food but realize that the salads at many restaurants are full of calories and fat.   

The best response is one of flexibility.  Remain flexible and adjust your sail to the wind.  This will allow you to become more sensitive to the various obstacles that could arise.  After navigating through several obstacles you will start to gain the confidence to overcome even the toughest challenges. 

The final quote that I want to mention comes from Confucius.  Confucius says, “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”

The systems and habits improvement mindset takes this very seriously and works to slowly make progress.  By taking very small steps we can reach the next level.  By turning it into habit we can then focus on the next step, always being assured that the previous step will not get neglected. 

Wherever you are with your goals, don’t stop.  If the wind is blowing differently than you expected, change your sail.  If you aren’t finding the opportunity you expected, start exploring another way to improve.  But most importantly, whatever you do and whatever speed you are traveling, make sure you keep moving forward.  Do not stop.  Keep moving towards your vision of success, use the system and habit techniques and always keep improving and trust that you can do the work necessary to reach the finish line.