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People are crazy (yes you too)

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.  

People are crazy (yes you too)

Scott Miker

We all view the world in different ways but one theme that I seem to come across is the notion that people are irrational.  People aren’t logical and thoughtful they are emotional and petty.

Many of us see the world around us this way and we can find examples all over the place.  We can point to some relative who makes poor decisions or a celebrity that seems to have it all but still gets caught in a scandal ruining the great career he or she spent years building.  We can think of people we worked for and drivers on the road. 

I used to think this way all the time.  Why can’t they just see how crazy they are being?

But the more I studied systems thinking I starting to realize that every side has a point of view.  If I can’t comprehend their point of view, maybe I’m just missing something.

Systems thinking allows us to see the full system and see the various interconnecting elements.  We can see things from the other perspective.  We still might maintain our beliefs but we aren’t so locked in that we can’t understand someone who sees things differently. 

Dale Carnegie has a quote that says, “When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic.  We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”

Most of us would agree with that quote and probably say, “yea that sounds accurate.”

But what if we turn that around and say that about you.  Remember that you are not a creature of logic and are bristling with prejudices and motived by pride and vanity.

If you suddenly found yourself slightly offended and thought, “not me!” then you are probably not even being logical enough to see that you aren’t being logical.

We have to get past this.  We have to get past the ability to see others more clearly than we see ourselves.  We have to realize that we are also illogical and rely on emotion much more than logic. 

When I finally accepted this about myself, it changed how I interacted with people.  Instead of coming in to conversations assuming I am right and they must be wrong, I started to realize that I am probably right and wrong and so are they. 

Things aren’t nearly as absolute as we assume.  There are grey areas.  Now I catch myself jumping to conclusions about a situation that has an emotional element.  I get frustrated at work when someone doesn’t do something right. 

But more often than not when I stop and work hard to see it from their perspective I see a different scenario playing out.  It still might be wrong and something we have to correct for the benefit of the company but I usually see elements that I missed.  Those can sometimes be more important than anything else. 

So when you think of others and assume everyone else is irrational but you are completely logical, realize that this is just your own self-bias.  Start to realize that you, too, are illogical.  Doing this will allow you to start seeing other perspectives and see the full system rather than just a snapshot of one part of it. 

Doing this will help you use the systems and habits approach to improvement.  It will allow you to realize your own flaws and then work to improve those areas.  It will help you realize where you truly have strengths, rather than assuming everything you do or say is right and others are wrong.  Then you can move forward and improve and get better, seeing more of the full system than before.