Chapter 23

Dissection’s Your Name and Repair’s Your Game

Carpenter_Systems_Comps_R6.inddThe first step to getting somewhere else is to establish exactly where you are right now. Measurement is key.

Let’s start with the subject of health. Seventeen years ago I was very sick and headed for the most catastrophic end. But then the Systems Mindset struck, and I knew immediately what to do. Reasoning that my body is a primary system composed of chemicals—chemicals that can be measured—I broke my body down into separate subsystems via a fullscreen blood test (sometimes called a “comprehensive wellness profile”).

My results indicated five chemicals were out of balance, and my doctor and I immediately knew these imbalances were the cause of my horrible physical condition. With the exception of one result that pointed toward chronic dehydration, the other four indicated long-term stress was my root problem.

What was the solution? First, I learned to de-stress through yoga, meditation, and a number of adjustments in lifestyle (there’s much more detail about this in Work the System). Second, through over-the-counter and prescription supplements, and by assertively drinking more liquids, I worked toward getting all these body chemicals back into the normal range. It took two years and a dozen more blood tests to accomplish, but I’m certain the lifestyle changes and the direct tweaking of those few bad chemical subsystems saved my life.

For the last decade and a half I’ve taken a full-screen blood test every six months. Results have been precisely on-target every time, not because of the supplements—I stopped taking them long ago—but because I’m now an expert in monitoring and managing my body. I eat right, exercise properly, get enough sleep, and do everything I can to ward off stress. It’s a job for me, and I take it seriously, paying attention to the subsystems, and then doing what must be done.

I work the system!

The repair process started with measurement, proceeded with measurement, and ended with measurement. And now that my body system is in great shape, the measurement continues.

What about your body? Why not do the same blood evaluation? Find out where you are now, determine where you need to be, and then tweak your subsystems so you get there.

The same methodology will work to fix relationship problems. If there is something that’s not right, start by taking the relationship apart and dividing it into its separate components. Boil things down and then find the subsystem that must be tweaked. Although it might be a terrific relationship overall, a major dispute can evolve out of something as innocuous as who takes out the trash, control of the TV remote, or whether the bed is made. Or maybe it has to do with personal hygiene or a bad communication nuance. And yes, it usually ends up being some kind of struggle for control, but the isolated dispute is probably not a symptom of fundamental incompatibility and is more likely to be an isolated glitch, something that can be removed or tweaked, thus allowing the overall great relationship to thrive.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

In business,* if there is a subpar bottom line or things seem to be in constant turmoil, do the same: Acknowledge the specific problems, isolate the subsystems of the organization that are generating the troubles, and then fix things by tweaking those subsystems one by one. There’s probably no need to file for bankruptcy.

Because your health, relationship, or business is having a problem doesn’t mean there’s an existential crisis. It simply means you’re having a problem.

*If you want to know how the Systems Mindset works in a business, get my book Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less. You can download it for free in PDF and/or audio, or purchase the hard copy at regular book outlets or at my business website,


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