A systematic approach is the key to success
Only a systematic approach will help you avoid life’s shortcomings. It’s like playing chess: Success is achieved not by a spontaneous move, but by a carefully deliberated one. This requires recognizing and understanding the systems that surround us to develop your own systems. This applies in particular for your job and gives you confidence even in turbulent times.
Even though some people are reluctant to admit it: Nobody’s perfect
Being able to draw like Picasso, play soccer like Pele, sing like Maria Callas, be as beautiful as Marilyn Monroe, be as wise as the Dalai Lama – all of us who are jealous of others and their special attributes and skills also admit at the same time that we are imperfect. We would so love to be ingenious!
Instead, we are forced to admit that our knowledge is incomplete, our skills are underdeveloped and that we lack many attributes that we would like to have. This is what our reality looks like: We overestimate or underestimate ourselves, have inaccurate perceptions, we set the wrong priorities, we select the wrong time, we walk in the wrong direction – but we are also successful at a few things.
Having a systematic approach helps us to overcome our own inadequacy. We already learn as kids that we have to proceed systematically when we want to achieve something. There is no point in putting Lego blocks together randomly. It must first be clear to us what we want to achieve by putting together the blocks. There must be an objective in order for the activity to make sense. You can only put the correct blocks in the correct order afterwards.
Recognizing and understanding your environment
People who want to find their way in a material world have to ask themselves two questions:
- What are the components?
- How does it work?
We have an innate curiosity to explore our environment. As babies, we put everything in our mouths, we want to get our hands on everything, and try things out. How does that taste? How does that feel? What can I do with it? Later on, it becomes interesting to take thing apart. Your dad might help you to put it back together again. IKEA and other providers of furniture assembly sets build on the abilities developed during our childhood and adolescence to proceed systematically.
Do the following test on yourself: After buying a product you need to assemble before using, put the assembly instructions aside. Look at the picture of the fully assembled product and develop a concept for the assembly. Only pick up the assembly instructions again afterwards. Compare your concept with the supplier’s concept!
How does what work? You should train yourself to ask yourself this question. This will help you to not only get to know your environment but learn to understand it. You can also practice this approach in situations where you are waiting for something, for example. How has the doctor whose waiting room you are in organized his or her practice? What is the structure of the public office building whose corridor you have to wait in? In what complexes is the airport split into? According to which system are the goods offered at a grocery store?
Acting systematically is the opposite of “just jumping right in”. Animals act guided by their instinct. We need to use our heads. Otherwise, we would end up in chaos and disaster.
Develop a systematic approach on your own
As children, we learn through imitating. When we as adults have forgotten this method or there is nobody to show us anything worth imitating, we have no other choice than to develop our own learning with a system. We learn our mother tongue by listening and repeating what we hear. As adults, we can learn more languages through systematic learning. We rely on learning processes developed by educators and psychologists to do this.
However, it is not enough to simply passively follow the system provided by teachers. As a learner, you need to be able to solve tasks on your own. How do I use a library? How do I grasp the content of a book? How do I organize my daily routine? When working groups are formed in industrial manufacturing that are no longer required to use a certain workflow, the group must be able to organize its work independently.
Unfortunately, children and adolescents are taught very little about a systematic approach to their own, personal development. For this reason, you more or less have to teach that to yourself. You are well-positioned for such self-development if you already learned how to keep your room tidy as a child and also helped with doing household chores. Nothing is better suited for developing and constantly improving useful systems than housework. And that’s not just for you alone, but in the group, within your family.
Disorder as a protest
Most of us prefer to leave activities like tidying up and cleaning to others. Some mothers raise their children to have this kind of bad behavior. This is either since they model being messy or because they act like they are our maid. Welcome to Hotel Mom and Dad. As a result, we have been avoiding any kind of housework since our childhood, detest cleaning, doing dishes, ironing, mending clothes, etc. We consider this to be menial labor that you used to have slaves for and nowadays, you have staff or an illegal worker take care of that for you.
Being a messy person can be a form of protest. Young people going through puberty want to demonstrate their rejection of the traditional systems and show their own will. They develop their own systems and subcultures. If this leads to the development of their own new systems when they reach adulthood, then that’s alright. However, adults who remain in their adolescent rebellion get in their own way if they refuse to do what their boss wants or rebel against dominant partners.
Adults who try to hide behind or within their disorganization also exhibit childish behavior. They claim to know what they have and where they can find it. This may be true for things they use often and as long as they stay within familiar territory. However, using disorder as a kind of “hide and seek” indicates impaired social behavior.
If our parents have not shown us how to keep things in order, if they have not conveyed to us that order is something useful, if they have not called our attention to the fact that the world around us consists of a system of order, and if they also did not let us experience that it is easier for people to live together in a system of order they practice together, then we have to make up for this for our lives as adults and for our household alone and in groups – or things will become unpleasant.
Professional development as an ongoing task
Aside from organizing your personal life, your job is the most important area in which you can use a system to offset our imperfection. Anything else makes us dependent on good luck and serendipity, which is the opposite of a self-directed life. This is the case since the technological developments and market changes are becoming faster and faster. Nowadays, none of us can be sure that we will be able to carry out a profession we have learned until we retire. All of us have to constantly learn and relearn things these days.
This is what matters most: Analyze and rethink your position early on; don’t wait until you are unemployed to do so. And the best way to do so is by permanently observing and assessing this position. People who have not yet investigated how they got into their current situation should have a look at their past experiences.
People who do not do that of their own volition will be asked to do so by their employer, at least in basic terms: Job applicants must provide quite a bit of documentation and go through testing stations such as assessment centers for the heads of HR be somewhat certain to have found the correct employee in the end.
Not focusing on your potential yourself is negligent. Failing to do so makes you unable to present yourself with confidence toward others or improve yourself on your own. Ask yourself:
- Where is my current job taking me?
- What possibilities for development do I have?
- What should I not accept?
- Which of my abilities and attributes are being neglected?
- What has to change?
- What do I have to change?
- What keeps me from getting better?
Your personal job market
People who work for themselves, such as carpenters or lawyers or psychotherapists will not be able to avoid having to find customers and focusing on their market. Customers will not just walk into your workshop, firm, or practice on their own. In addition, as a self-employed person, you need to remain fit for the market. That means you need to develop professionally and adapt your services to changes in the market.
People who do not create their own jobs but have them provided by an employer should also have the same attitude. There is an increasing tendency for employees to only give those people a job who are able to fill it with purpose on their own. To fulfill this requirement, everyone has to develop their own system of personal work capability, which consists of two basic areas:
- ongoing self-improvement
- market observation and maintenance
This book offers countless insights, experiences, and suggestions for Item 1 in every chapter. You can use them to develop the necessary planning, plans, and measures for your personal capability to work.
Item 2 is about defining your market both geographically (locally, regionally, supraregionally, globally) and to understand the sector and area of specialization regarding its dynamics, trends, and tendencies. But this requires research. It’s not enough to just read the trade journal of your professional organization. It requires an additional activity: Constantly establishing and maintaining contacts. This not only includes participating in events of professional associations, trade fairs, and conferences, but also memberships in organizations with a focus on customers.
The best jobs are usually given to people via “vitamin C”. You do not necessarily have to be included, but your fellow professionals should know who you are. Academic credentials only partly reflect character traits and key qualifications. This is why everyone in the sector of the job market in which your desired position is to be filled should not just be well-known as an expert, but also as a person.
Self-confidence in turbulent times
People who plan and implement their career development like an entrepreneur who knows which strengths they have that need to be developed and which weaknesses they need to compensate for or eliminate are very likely to achieve their goals. And they will largely be able to face the pitfalls of the job market. Thus, these people will not be devastated when, for example, the company that employs you is sold or when the company goes broke. They will recognize the development early on and draw the corresponding consequences.
Over time, we all develop life habits that we are reluctant to give up. Some of us have put down deep roots for ourselves and our families in a place where we live and work and are not willing to sacrifice that for a job. You can use a situation analysis to find out what you value more or less than your career development under which circumstances: What do you perhaps forgo and what will you never give up? How can you change your personal living environment without having to experience this as a loss?
Those of us who come to the conclusion when examining our living situation they would really not want to change anything and only need to keep their current job to do so run the risk of being completely unprepared when fate strikes. The dynamics of economic life will continue to increase and allow for fewer and fewer jobs that are not subject to constant changes.
Being born and dying are part of the interplay of life. People who are their own entrepreneurs when it comes to “work” matters are the most likely to be able to handle this ebb and flow. To do so, you have to determine your career yourself. This requires you to know what you want, where you want to be in your career, and how you want to live. The objectives must be planned and pursued in line with this.
To stay ahead in life despite our imperfection, we have to exploit the possibilities of taking systematic action.