Chapter 3

Your Life is a Collection of Separate Systems

Carpenter_Systems_Comps_R6.inddWhat? 

The Systems Mindset positioning is built around an elementary fact that maybe one in a hundred people detect. Although there are those who were born with the Mindset, most weren’t. If it’s not innate, acquiring it usually requires three factors.

First, the time must be right and that usually (but not always) means there has been some recent emotional trauma or there has been a long, drawn-out life hardship that has become unbearable.

Second, the principles must be clearly spelled out.

And third, there must be some quiet, careful observation that is outside of any menu-driven belief system. This doesn’t mean the belief system has to disappear, it means that for just a short while it is set aside so there can be an unbiased examination of root physical reality.

For many who read these pages, the acquired Systems Mindset insight will come quickly. For others, it will take days or weeks of thinking and observing. It just depends. In any case, for most people the insight appears in a flash, at a very specific point in time. However it arrives, when it happens to you it will be a stark turning point in your life.

Getting the Systems Mindset is a revelation, an enlightenment that will change you forever.

Here is the simple foundational premise of the Systems Mindset: Your life is not a chaotic swirling mass of sights, sounds, and events within which you must incessantly fight for survival. Rather, it’s an orderly collection of independent processes, many of which you can quietly adjust so they will deliver you the life experiences you want.

Now it’s time for some careful observation.

Look around: in your home, on the street, or at work. Let’s start by considering your car, a primary system, which, like any system, is intended to accomplish a task. In this case, the task is to deliver you from point A to point B. And like any primary system, your car is a collection of independent subsystems. Prove that to yourself by asking, what does the radio have to do with the brakes? Or in what way does the transmission affect the air conditioner? And what is the involvement of the headlights with the speedometer?

In each pairing, there is no relationship.

And what about the primary system that is your body? What does your liver have to do with your stomach or your pancreas with your brain? Or, what does your left foot have to do with your right hand? Again, in each matching, nothing!

Yes, in your car and in your body the subsystems are connected to each other and work together to the benefit of the primary system, but in their essence, the subsystems are independent entities.

Your life is a collection of individual systems!

Do you want more evidence? Quietly observe your everyday world. At home you cook a meal. How is that process associated with washing clothes or watching TV or sleeping? And at work, what is the connection between making a sales presentation and preparing the payroll?

Back to your car: The auto mechanic isolates a problem to a particular subsystem and then corrects that problem in that malfunctioning subsystem. Presuming you’re dealing with an honest mechanic, if your alternator has failed, that mechanic will not be replacing the fuel pump.

And with your body, if you have a broken leg you won’t be rushed to a dermatologist. You’re going to be seeing an orthopedic specialist.

This separate-system reality is ubiquitous. Your whole existence and all the world around you is an immense collection of independent systems and subsystems. If you can internalize this fundamental principle, you’ll have enormous advantage over those around you.  Acquiring this deep understanding is what I call “getting it,” and after it happens, your future actions will be super-efficient, directed by this more accurate comprehension of mechanical reality.

Now let’s pause to review what we’ve learned. In these real-life illustrations, we’ll combine two Systems Mindset concepts: the incessant search for control with the reality that life is a collection of independent systems.

Your smartphone: You have it because you need to control your communication.

Your car: You want to determine your physical location, so you can control where you are and where you’re going.

Your lawnmower: You want control over the grass in your yard.

Your job: You require money, which allows you to exert control in a multitude of areas, so you seek it.

Your house: You want a safe and private location where your body can retreat to rest and recharge.

Your family: You do what you have to do to keep them safe.

Your health: To ensure your continued existence, you do what is necessary to be vital, strong, and injury-free.

You can easily come up with more examples, and here’s the takeaway: Via a host of separate processes, our lives are spent in a constant quest for control.

Have you ever thought of your life in this way?

But still, if I focus on gaining more control, won’t I become a control freak?

Yes, but not in the colloquial sense. In your new control-seeking efforts you’re going to quietly get what you want in your life without driving yourself and everyone around you crazy. You’ll be passionate about your new vision, but your management efforts will certainly not be due to some kind of obsessive-compulsive malady.

There it is: the simple mechanics of the life you live and the world you inhabit. Now you’re one layer deeper than almost everyone around you. This elementary adjustment in how you see the components of your world will guide you to make decisions that will take you straight to the freedom and personal control you’ve always wanted.

Again, I call this perspective the Systems Mindset.

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