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The Invisible Drives the Visible

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.  

The Invisible Drives the Visible

Scott Miker

When we strive to reach new heights and accomplish new goals, we can usually define our goals and visualize the rewards for achieving our goals.  We can understand what it will mean to be successful and find examples of times when others accomplished similar goals.

But time and time again we overlook the work necessary and the lifestyle changes we will need to make in order to succeed.  When setting goals we have to realize that the invisible drives the visible. 

In Design to Grow: How Coca-Cola Learned to Combine Scale and Agility, David Butler calls a section of his book “The Invisible Drives the Visible.”  The first paragraph of that section drives at his passion around systems in business.

“I love systems and exploring the ways in which systems work.  Most systems aren’t readily apparent: For example, you don’t think of your kid’s school bus, your local grocery store, or an app on your smart phone, as parts of big systems, but they are.  Understanding how systems work can really change the way you see the world.”

When we start to view the systems in the world we truly do gain a new perspective.  We see the interconnectedness of everything.  We understand life in new ways.  We understand business in new ways.  We understand accomplishment in new ways. 

They key isn’t just to be able to see these systems and understand them.  It is to be able to use that insight to create new systems or adjust existing systems.  We can use systems thinking to design behavior changes that can turn into new habits. 

This is how we get right into the work necessary to achieve a goal.  This is how we make the lifestyle changes that will pull us towards success. 

We can start to see things in new ways.  We can connect various elements together to better understand how to improve and make progress towards our life’s aspirations. 

This is powerful whether we are managing a brand like Coca-Cola or even if we just want to change a few bad habits.  The same principles apply.  Systems drive everything around us whether we explore the system or not. 

So to see the invisible force driving the visible we have to look deeper than surface level to see the interconnectedness.  We start to see how things interact with each other and the various elements to contribute to the visible forms that we see.  

Take goal you have a something that you want to change but haven’t been able to change yet.  Start to brainstorm and map out the various elements that connect.  If you want to lose weight, start to list the times when you eat healthy, the situations where it is difficult to stay on track, the daily exercise habits you have etc.  But also look at how you handle stress, how much sleep you get, what you drink during the day, etc.  These might not be as obvious until you start to think systematically.

But seeing all of these various systems can be overwhelming.  So don’t worry about attacking them all.  Instead find very small, simple changes that have at least some impact.  Then work on turning that new, small behavior change into a habit.  It will take a lot of time but eventually you will start to transform the various systems related to a goal.  The good thing is that once it is a solid habit, you won’t have to keep focusing on it.  It will become automatic. 

This is incredibly powerful and can set you up to be able to achieve numerous goals in many different areas.  The same principles will apply whether you want to lose weight, pay off debt, quit smoking, write a book, start a successful business, run a marathon or just about any goal you can think of. 

So start to explore the underlying systems in our goals to take advantage of the invisible that drives the visible.