I used to dwell on all that I viewed was wrong in the world. I would find fault in everything. I took on a condescending attitude that said if only the world would just follow my advice; I could fix everything for everyone.
But, obviously, this was a horrible way to go through life. I didn’t know anything. I was naïve and oblivious to the real world. Luckily, I started to slowly realize how wrong I was and I realized it early in my life.
The reality is that the world is complex. There are so many factors and everything seems chaotic all the time. But it isn’t as chaotic as we think.
In physics we find certain laws of nature. We can start to understand why we are stuck to the earth instead of floating away. There are systems that dictate gravity and how it impacts us. It isn’t some random happenstance.
The more we look at the world, the more likely we are to see repeating patterns. We start to see structures and organization.
For me, I finally started to see the world differently when I owned my own business. I was trying to figure out how to make the business work. I kept spinning my wheels and trying random thing after random thing.
Then I read an article that said that successful businesses are successful due to the business systems. That is why franchisee’s can buy a McDonald’s franchise and have such success. McDonald’s has developed business systems that drive profit to the business.
I started to look at my business differently. Instead of looking at a sales meeting with a new client as a one-time event, I started to develop a general sales process. I standardized how I would take someone through that process. Then I would learn from it and tweak it until it seemed to work most of the time.
This may seem like it turned me into a robot, sounding rehearsed and salesy. But it did the opposite. It allowed me to focus on the customer and what their needs were instead of blabbing on about the services I offered.
I didn’t create a script to read from, I created a general flow that allowed me to build rapport, uncover needs, and present solutions.
After this I started to look at every aspect of the business this way. It was a system. So I started to tweak all of the systems of the business.
I was lucky to find out about systems and even luckier that my brother bought a franchise and asked me to join him for the journey. I got another great look at business systems and how to use them to reach goals.
But at some point I started think, “If people know about this and have used this for businesses for generations, why not apply this same thinking to every aspect of life.”
I started to see life through this systems thinking lens. I started to overcome major obstacles in my personal life and get aspects of my life on track for success. I started to change behaviors and I also was able to change my thinking.
In Work the System by Sam Carpenter, the author talks through his own awakening to this ability to see the world as numerous, interacting systems.
He says, “I underwent an enlightenment of sorts. It sounds corny, but in my mind, I rose up and out of the jumble that was my life; I was no longer an integral part of it. Floating upward, ‘outside and slightly elevated’ from the chaos, I gazed down at the details of my business, spread out neatly as if on display on a tabletop. From this bird’s-eye perspective, it struck me that Centratel [his business] was simply a self-contained mechanical device! It was – and is – nothing more than the sum of an assemblage of sequential systems.”
He goes on to say, “My thoughts raced at light speed as I marveled at the simple beauty of it. I understood that my previous vision of the world had been wrong. The world is not a chaotic jumble of people, objects, and events clanging together in disarray. The world is a place of order and logic, a place of predictability. The world is a collection of logical systems!”
The world as a series of systems provides so much benefit. It helps understand the complicated nature of life but it also provides insight into how to use this insight to our own advantage.
We can take advantage of the systems and work the systems to provide the most benefit to us. We can create the future we dream about. We can change who we are to be better.
We don’t work against the system. We don’t expect gravity to suddenly stop because we dislike it. We realize it is a law of life and work with it. We can overcome it, but only by seeing the full system (gravity, force, thrust, etc.). This doesn’t have to hold us back. We are never just turning off this law.
But the first step is often realizing that everything is a system and that looking at the systems can help us gain clarity and understanding. Then we can put in the hard work to change our personal systems to get us on the road to success.
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