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Who is in charge of your life?

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.  

Who is in charge of your life?

Scott Miker

Our world is complex.  There are many elements of life and the more we explore life the more we tend to discover.

With all of this complexity, many people start to feel that they are simply being manipulated like a pawn on a chessboard.  They feel that there must be someone else in charge. 

This makes it easy to play the victim.  I’m not talking about actual victims of crime.  I’m talking about the general attitude that everyone is against you and somehow life isn’t fair.   

Playing the victim leads to a mindset that we are pawns of someone else’s game.  We don’t have total control so we assume we don’t have any control. 

But systems thinking shows us that we often have more control over the system than we realize.  We are actively interacting with the system.  Yes at times it impacts us but sometimes we impact it.   

Playing the victim also tends to illicit the feeling that the world is incredibly flawed.  We see things that we don’t like or don’t agree with and can come up with all sorts of reasons why the world is unfair and imperfect.

But from a systems perspective, the world is perfect.  It isn’t perfect because we always get the advantage, it is perfect because, just like every system, it has good and bad mixed together in a way that leaves the system moving forward through time. 

If we change how we view life, from the judgmental fair/unfair perspective to an objective systems-evaluating perspective we can start to see just how perfect the world is.

In Work the System by Sam Carpenter, he talks about when he started to see the world systematically.  He says, “From depths beyond my physical and mental despair, and liberated from my self-absorption, more questions surfaced, ones I had never considered before: ‘Who is in charge of all this?’ and ‘How does this world continue to function day after day, year after year, millennium after millennium?’  The answers to these odd questions came fast and hard.”

He then goes on to say, “I was startled to grasp what there is no human ‘King of Everything’ who directs the goings-on of the world.  On its own, and no matter what, this earth keeps turning and life carries on in an overall structured and organized pattern, and … no one is in charge!  The indomitable laws of nature ensure systems work perfectly according to their construction: On this earth, gravity works all the time, everywhere.  Over here, one plus one equals two, and over there, one plus one also equals two!  The laws of nature cause the mechanics of the world to be dependable and predictable, and the gift with which we humans have been blessed is the ability to get in the middle of it all and to manipulate it, to direct our lives to be what we want them to be, to use the laws of nature to our advantage.”

While this may seem a bit outlandish, it is incredibly freeing.  It provides us hope, hope for a chance to better our situation and not just be manipulated throughout our lifetime. 

We can’t always change the laws of the system but at least we can start to play by the rules.  We can take control of our own life by owning our own role in the systems.  The more we understand the system, the more start to be able to adjust the systems and find our way through the systems to create the life we want.