(Note to reader: This is Part Two of a summary-essay regarding the necessary mindset – “the systems mindset” – that is fundamental to the Work the System Method. It’s written so that anyone can get a solid take-away. For that reason feel free to share with your friends and colleagues, whether they are familiar with my work or not. For Part one, go here.
A Manifesto for 2017
The Simple Mechanics of Getting What You Want
By Sam Carpenter
You’re Going to Take Control
So, again: Do you want your life determined by unseen, randomly executing systems and/or systems managed by others? Or do you want to control the systems that are going to produce your future? Of course, the answer to that question is obvious. You want to manage your systems so you can determine your results.
How will you know when you’ve truly grasped the systems mindset concept? It’s when you, metaphorically, find yourself perched on a third-party “outside and slightly elevated” vantage point, watching yourself “down there” in your own life, clearly seeing yourself among the separate systems that comprise your world. And you’ll know you’ve internalized the mindset when you no longer view your life as a confused, swirling mass of sights, sounds and events, but instead see it as a logical collection of separate systems, the vast majority of them performing well, but some not performing so well.
Maintaining this external stance moment-to-moment without having to think about it, means the systems mindset has become visceral.
And the consequence of clearly seeing the mechanics – the systems – of your world will naturally lead you to work on those systems – to adjust them – so they produce the results you desire. No more will you spend your days fire-killing, incessantly correcting the random bad results of your unseen and therefore unmanaged systems. Instead, you’ll spend your time intensely building, adjusting, and maintaining your systems, precisely controlling them so they consistently turn out the results you desire.
All day long, you’ll work your systems…
Make no mistake, there will be some negative systems you’ll want to altogether remove from your life. (It turns out that system-elimination is one of the most satisfying outcomes of the systems mindset posture).
Down the line, when you see a bad result occurring yet again, you won’t just fix it, you’ll also tweak or remove the system that produced that bad result so it will never happen again. It’s that second step that is key…
And conversely, when you identify a certain goal that you desire, you’ll naturally design, build, and then manage the system or systems that will produce that goal.
This is how you’ll spend your time.
So, you ask, how do I internalize the systems mindset? Very simple: you’ll just observe your world from a different angle until the simple profundity imbeds itself. Let’s talk about that.
To “Get it,” Just Look Around
You’ll come up with your own examples, but here are a few sample observations you can make that will internalize the 1→2→3→4 = Result systems mindset formula. These are waking, real-time mental exercises you can do anywhere and anytime because the observations you’ll make will, without exception, conform to the systems mindset formula. Why? Because this is how the world works.
The 1→2→3→4 = Result formula is, simply, infallible, so you can trust it in any situation.
How long will it take to internalize the systems mindset? It could be upon your now, or with quiet observation it might take days or weeks to grab hold. In any case, it usually arrives at a precise moment-of-time – in a flash. It’s not a slow learning experience that accumulates in your head, slowly, via some kind of osmosis. It’s literally an awakening.
Using these guidelines, you’ll thoughtfully watch the world around you and then, unexpectedly, the mindset will strike like a hammer, and then it will be with you forever.
- You’re sitting at home. Look around. See the TV in the living room. Then see the toaster in the kitchen. Note that the two have nothing to do with each other. Each is a separate system that is designed to produce its own result. The TV is for entertainment and information dissemination. For the toaster, it’s to produce a slightly charred piece of bread. Continue to observe and evaluate. The sink’s water tap purpose is to produce a stream of water, and its associated plumbing system is an altogether separate system from the TV and the toaster. It’s the same for the heating and air conditioning system, electrical system, table lamp, alarm system, oven, refrigerator and every other system in your home including the foundation of the house itself, the structural framework of it…and the roof. Each system is separate from the others; each designed to produce a specific result. Yet, of course, they all are connected in one way or another, together comprising the primary entity that is your home. Think about these, and other examples…
- You’re driving down the street: See the other cars pass by. See the pedestrians on the sidewalk. Note the trees; the streetlights, and imagine the water and sewer lines underneath. They are all separate systems that have nothing to do with each other except they are there because of the street. The next time you drive, think about this…
- At home again: you’re in bed getting ready to go to sleep. As you lie there, quietly witness your breathing. Think of your thought process itself. Then consider your heart beating, your lungs breathing, your blood flowing, your stomach digesting dinner. And overall, consider the countless, fantastic systems of your body that are functioning right now, 99.999% of them unbeknownst to you…each separate but all working together to create the primary entity that is your body (and comprising the you that is having these very thoughts…).
Remember that although the systems of your life are connected in some way, that doesn’t mean they are all one and the same; that they are not separate from each other. It’s no small thing and I have waited to say this here, near the end: it’s your grasp of the separateness of the systems of your world that will allow you to isolate them one at a time; to be able to analyze and adjust them – one at a time – so each produces the outcome you want.
You’re Right: This Isn’t Rocket Science
In a nutshell, here’s the application of the systems mindset:
- To eliminate a recurring problem, work backward from the problem to determine the 1-2-3-4 system that led up to it. Then, either create a whole new system to replace the old one, or more likely, just adjust a component of the existing system so the problem doesn’t occur again. (Too many times, people create horrible toss-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater unintended consequences when they discard and replace an entire complex system when all that is required is to tweak some small system component of the system that is, overall, working very well).
- Yes, there will be systems that don’t need to be repaired, but must be discarded altogether…
- To reach a goal, create a new system that will produce that goal, implement that system, and then tweak it to perfection. After that, maintain it religiously.
You’re right. This isn’t rocket science. Now you can see that systems-thinking methodology is so disarmingly simple that most people overlook it.
So, for now, put aside emotional and motivation-boosting efforts – stop thinking so much – and see your life in pure real-world mechanical terms. And for that matter, know the systems of your life don’t give a whit about your emotional state. But know this too: once you get your mechanical life-systems straightened out, happy and peaceful emotions, along with freedom, confidence and success, will arrive as a direct result.
To get what you want, spend your days in the 1→2→3→4 part of the systems equation. Then, watch the great Results appear.
It doesn’t work the other way around.