Q. Your systems mindset message seems to repeat itself. Are you a one-trick pony?
A. I take that as a compliment if you are suggesting that I have a single, simple lesson to teach. Here’s the thing: The beauty of the systems mindset is that it is a root-concept and therefore has an infinity of real-world effects.
Q. If I “get” the systems mindset and then find peace and freedom, will I finally be happy?
A. You’ll have more control of your life and so you’ll be happier but it still won’t be all roses and cupcakes, especially at first. Obtaining extra time and money, good health and better relationships in a short period of time is a challenge in itself and it takes some time to learn to manage this new condition without going a bit gaga. I personally dealt with this challenge and in time learned to better manage the new prosperous condition. In any case, having enough money to do what you want and being healthy and gregarious is way better than the opposite. Do I still have my ups and downs? Yes, but I’m up 98% of the time, and the 2% down-times are almost always due to a temporary personal system problem (e.g. a nap or a good night’s sleep usually snaps me out of it).
Q. Is there work to do to “get” the mindset and then make the changes?
A. If you’re in business there is some documentation. But it’s documentation you would have to create anyway if you are to be successful. There are no large, successful businesses that don’t have things down on paper! If you’re not in business, paperwork is minimal.
Q. Is the systems mindset really that simple?
A. I describe its underlying concept as dirt simple. We humans have a powerful tendency to complicate things so the elementary reality of the systems mindset is overlooked by almost everyone.
Q. What is the advantage of the systems mindset over the common hyper high-energy, web-surfing, multi-tasking mindset?
A. I call the frame of mind you describe, the “Red Bull Mindset.” A lot gets done but much of it is to no avail. It’s inefficient. But in contrast, those who calmly focus on working the systems of their lives are highly efficient. And, newsflash! Whether you know it or not, or whether you like it or not, your life is made up of individual systems that produce individual real-time results that you must deal with. This is it: The systems mindset continuously “works” individual systems so they produce desired results, while the non-systems mindset ignores underlying systems that, as a result of not being managed, continuously produce random and recurring bad results. Dealing with bad results is called fire-killing. (That’s a mouthful, but read it again. It’s the heart of the methodology.)
Q. It’s hard for me to even think about my systems. How do I relax enough to do this?
A. Due primarily (but not exclusively) to the Internet, too many of us are becoming superficial, inefficient thinkers…and superficial thinking is the antithesis of quiet, relaxed systems mindset thinking. With too much screen-time, our day-to-day thought process has become nervously flighty; almost spastic. Here’s an excerpt from The Shallows, a new book by Nicholas Carr: “What we seem to be sacrificing in all our (Internet) surfing and searching is our capacity to engage in the quieter, attentive modes of thought that underpin contemplation, reflection and introspection. The web never encourages us to slow down. It keeps us in a state of perpetual mental locomotion.” The cure? Reading! In our society, thoughtful page-turning has become a rarity and it’s too bad because it’s the antidote to the Internet’s scrambled-brain conditioning. Carr says, “Whereas the Internet scatters attention, a book focuses it. Unlike the screen, the page promotes contemplation.” This doesn’t suggest one should give up the web! The Internet is an incredible tool that most of us can’t live without. Carr’s point is that a regular routine of reading will do much to counter the bad effects of web surfing…while promoting the kind of relaxed contemplation that is required to get one’s systems in order. A contemplative mindset is necessary in order to be able to slow down enough to see, analyze and then adjust one’s underlying systems. (I wrote more about Carr’s book in a previous post.)
Q. What is the primary error people make when they start their own business?
A. It will be the topic of next week’s post. My thoughts on this may surprise you. Maybe not, if you’ve read my book.
Q. You don’t use a “smart” phone. How come?
A. My decision to stick with a simple cell phone may seem odd especially since I operate a telecom company. It’s a congruency between my beliefs and what I actually do. My overall goal is to have plenty of free time so being available every moment for all incoming Internet-related communication and regular phone call communication is not what I want. A big part of freedom is not being subject to random intrusion.I use my cell phone mostly for outgoing calls and receive maybe one or two incoming calls a day, usually from friends and family. And if I feel like having some guaranteed solitude, I just turn it off (probably 50% of the time). My managers operate Centratel and my overall guidance is via some email, an occasional phone call and once per-week meetings. I am not in the middle of my business so I don’t get interrupted 24/7. I stay “outside and slightly above.” Do I suggest you get rid of your smart phone? Not at all! It may be perfect for your situation.
Q. What is the most dysfunctional system anywhere?
A. Dysfunctional systems are human-made. The natural world is perfect as-is. The most problematic human systems? The numerous corrupt governments scattered around the globe, most often in third world countries. Do we have problems in the Western World? Yes, but we mostly inhabit democratic republics in which people not only have a large say in what goes on in their lives, but they have the opportunity to create better personal situations for themselves by working hard and being smart. God help those who live under a tyrannical regime in which the economic system is geared to serve leadership’s own selfish needs. In those places there is not much freedom, opportunity or dispersed wealth: There is very little personal system control.
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Photo by h.koppdelaney via flickr used under a creative Commons License.