There’s one vital thing we tend to forget about systems

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Jonathan Stewart
Jonathan Stewart
Systems are human because they are the things we do that make us, us. Our humanness must be acknowledged when creating a system because there is a foundation of systems from which we can build.

Here’s how we usually think of systems:

Systems are props. They’re the things you turn to — the apps, the tools, the tech — when your business (or your life in general!) feels “broken.” Systems are the tools that’ll “fix” you, the things you impose on yourself to help you get rid of all of your inconvenient humanness and help you have a nice, tidy, productive business.

But here’s what I believe systems really are:

Systems are HUMAN.

Your life, dear reader, is already abundant with systems—many of which serve you extremely well. From the respiratory system that’s keeping your lungs pumping and the protective powers of your nervous system, to the systems you’ve created to help you move through your day. From the way you view the world to the way you respond to your individual cycle of experience.

And they are all inherently human. They’re the things you DO. They’re the things that make you, you.

But we tend to overlook that fact. Which is why so many of us end up working with the wrong props in the first place. Why we end up with tools, apps, and programs that are more of a hindrance than a help. Why we approach systems in a prescriptive way, and view them as a fix for the bits of ourselves we think are broken.

Time and again, we start from the wrong foundation— we focus on the tech, on the prescription, when what we really should be focusing on is our humanness.

Instead of looking to the external, we should be turning our gaze inward, and acknowledging that when it comes to systems, we need to place just as much importance on the emotional as we do on the practical.

Because we, as humans, are emotional beings, and as such, why wouldn’t we want to consider not just what we need our systems to DO, but how we need them to FEEL as we use them? Are we looking for depth, for simplicity, for something else?

And the really great thing about approaching systems in this way is that we’re never starting from scratch; as part of your wonderfully unique humanness, you already have a complex series of systems, a powerful foundation on which to build:

  • There are things you already do in your business to help you work effectively.
  • There are strategies you’ve already created to help you move through your work day.
  • There are things you’ve already discovered that serve you well.

And these things are where you find the knowledge that you really need when you’re looking for more ease in business. Because you are not broken, your system isn’t something to “fix” or “manage” you — it’s a crucial part of your innate humanness, and when you start from there, from what you already know, the possibilities are truly exciting!

I’d love to explore this idea with you in a little more depth, so I’ve recorded a podcast episode on the humanness of systems and what's known as the Cycle of Experience.

What is the Cycle of Experience?

The Cycle of Experience describes how we identify our needs, take action to meet them, and learn from the process. It helps you assess your current situation and decide whether you need to raise your awareness or take action. It can also show you if you're acting on partial information or moving too quickly. These “processes” (the way we do things…) are what guides us throughout the day and it all begins with two elements Contact & Withdrawl.

The Contact Withdrawl Cycle

Right now you're making contact with what you're reading.

You are taking in the words, and focusing on that….

In a second I'm gonna ask you to look around you – and notice what your eyes do as you look around.

Do that now… (and then come back here…)

Did you notice what happened? Most probably as you were looking around you became aware of specific objects.

For me I saw:

  • A book
  • The TV Remote
  • My Phone

I didn't see the “sofa” I was sat on, nor did I see the fact the TV remote was on a book. I saw each individual object and was drawn to each of them one at a time. This is what the contact withdrawl cycle is and is believed to be how we engage with the world.

At first when I learnt about this, I didn't really understand what to do with it. I wanted to “know what I was supposed to do”. The really interesting thing about this concept, is you do nothing. Because it's already happening. It's something you naturally do.

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