systems

The reason lottery winners wind up depressed is that our happiness depends not on what we have, but what we have in relation to what we’re accustomed to.

It’s why a getting a NutriBullet is so exciting… for about three weeks.

Once having a nice blender is something you’re accustomed to though, you’re far less likely to actually enjoy using it.

Image result for nutri bullet
Photo: Michael Hession

The shine on 20 million dollars lasts a little longer, but the novelty of driving an Mercedes wears off just like the novelty of blending spinach seamlessly into smoothies.

This isn’t the same at the bottom end of the financial scale.

Not having enough to get by is horrendously taxing on one’s happiness.

Once your basic needs are met, satisfaction lives in the process.

Setting big goals is less about achieving them than it is about the happiness we enjoy taking strides toward them.

Lean the instrument, write the book, make the ruckus, or play the sport because the pursuit itself delights you.

Here’s two things which are deeply important to me;

Helping people understand what attention deficit disorders look like, how they function, and what someone lucky enough to have one can do to turn their variance into an asset.

Helping people (especially us millennial/Gen Z types) find ways to grow, learn, and reduce anxiety through the dedicated stoic practice of a meaningful pursuit (jiu-jitsu, in my case).

I’m going to be turning one of these into a book.

Perhaps I’ll even end up writing both. But for now, I need to decide which one gets to be first or I’ll bounce between the two forever.

I’m not married to a deadline yet, but I am commited to the outcome.

One book has to die for the other to thrive. If this is going to happen, I need to focus.

I need to make a choice, and I’d appreciate your help in making it.

Which book would you read first (if either)?

Which book are you more likely to champion?

Which book would you gift to a friend?

This is wildly important to me, so I’d appreciate any and all of your thoughts.

You can contact me publicly or privately.

Give me a call.

Let me buy you a coffee.

This is happening one way or the other. I want to do it justice.

When (not if) we make mistakes that need to be avoided in the future we have two options; tell ourselves that next time we’ll be more careful, or build a better system which limit the chance of the mistake happening again.

Being careful might prevent us from making the mistake short term, but what happens when we become complacent again? What happens when enough time has passed for us to forget the consequences of the mistake, or when someone new comes along who hasn’t made the mistake before? Careful is important, but it isn’t enough.

This is why we build systems.

‘If it matters enough to be careful, it matters enough to build a better system.’

Seth Godin

Some systems are huge, others are tiny. Systems become more complicated when the cost of the mistake is high, or when the number of people who could make the mistake is large. You can build a system around any imaginable problem.

Have trouble getting out of bed when your alarm chimes?

Telling yourself you’re going to make sure not to do this on workdays and disabling your snooze option is being careful.

Putting your phone on the other side of the room before you go to bed is a small system.

Neither caution nor a system can guarantee that a mistake will be avoided. But systems are dynamic. Caution is not.

Let’s say setting your alarm on the other side of the room works for a while, but your morning zombie-brain adapts. You’ve discovered that if you go to the end of your bed and stretch far enough, you can turn the alarm off without even needing to get out of bed.

The system is failing. It needs to be adapted. So, you implement a new rule:

You’re not allowed to turn off your alarm until you’re dressed.

This one simple change to your routine implies that you’ll need to get out of bed, turn on a light, take off your pyjamas, and dress yourself before you’re allowed to turn off your alarm.

Couldn’t you still just turn the alarm off at any time and just go back to bed? Of course.

But if you were willing to put the effort into being careful, wouldn’t you also be willing to put in the effort to implement a system?

Systems take effort to implement, but once they’re in place they dramatically decrease your likelihood of making mistakes.

You can take a systems based approach to everything important to you.

Be careful, but be smart about it.

Perfecting a technique ensures that you’ll be able to execute it perfectly from a distinct starting point.

But what if you never find yourself at that starting location?

Perfecting a system ensures that you’ll be able to execute a move from every starting point possible.

As you become proficient in a technique and begin to practice it; you learn about the counters to the technique and how to prevent them; the set-ups, the angles and preconditions required to execute the technique; and the principles which apply to the technique, and to your opponents reaction.

The implementation of these counters, set-ups, angels, preconditions and principles is the systems based approach to learning Jiu-Jitsu.

A Jiu-Jitsu system endeavours to define all possible scenarios within the system.

Mastering a system maximises your chances of submitting you opponent once you have them within in.

For example, you can have the best swinging armbar from guard on the planet, but if your opponent would rather be triangled than let you cross his arm over your centre-line, you better have a good triangle set-up too.

Having an incredible armbar is worth nothing compared to having an incredible guard which includes a great armbar.

It took me a while to realise this, so for those of you just starting out; apply a systems based approach. Don’t just ask your instructor how to execute a technique; ask how, why, when, and when it doesn’t apply.