Day 10: Think & operate in systems

In the last 9 days of the challenge, I have made you aware of some very important tools to help you achieve grand career breakthroughs.  

The challenge with knowing your one BIG THING and followed it up by various tools to manage your perceptions, creating an impact and influence people around. While you would have largely been able to align all of these to help you achieve your one big thing, this last thing I want to talk to you about – thinking and operating in systems; is a game-changer.

Scott Adams, the creator of the famous comic series Dilbert, says – the people who use systems do better. Goals are for the losers.

While I don’t fully advocate his statement, I strongly believe that setting goals and knowing your one big thing is not enough, a system will drive you to achieve it. 

So today, to conclude the 10-day challenge, I dare you to think and operate in systems.

What is a system and why do you need one?

As kids, I am sure, you all would have heard the parable of six blind men and the elephant. It is a story of a group of six blind men, who come across an elephant for the first time and based on the body part they are touching, try to conceptualize what the elephant would be like.

The person who touches its tusks opines that it is a spear, the person touching the ears says it is a fan, the person touching the stomach is of the view that it is a great wall, the tail is a rope, the legs are trees and its tusk is a snake.  

Each one of them had touched one of the many parts. While they were confident they were right, every single one of them was wrong for the person who was looking at the elephant as a whole.

This parable is analogic to what is bound to happen when you master all the 9 things of the challenge and you don’t think in systems.

This story is the best way to learn,

When you focus on the parts, you miss the bigger picture and thus set yourself up for failure! 

So here are 6 simple steps to help you think and operate in systems–

(And, here is a workbook you can download to follow along.)

#1 Create symbiotic relationships

To be able to think and operate in systems, you need to begin with a paradigm shift. You need to move from linear to circular.

A man is essentially here for other men. You cannot do everything on your own. There are a lot of dependencies you will have on others.

Donella Medows, the lead author of the influential book The Limits to Growth and Thinking in Systems: a Primer opines that a system is a set of related components that work together from particular environment to perform whatever functions are required to achieve the system’s objective.

So, involve people to help you achieve your one big thing and help others achieve theirs. Alone you can only do very little, together a lot more. Look at creating a symbiotic relationship where each one’s expertise helps one another achieve big.

Ask yourself, for achieving grand career breakthroughs who can you create that symbiotic relationship with – Friend, colleague, a family member, boss, mentor or someone else? 

Once you have identified, use the workbook to write it down and reflect further to create a strong plan of action.

#2 Evaluate where you are right now

When you use google maps to find directions to a destination, it first identifies your current location. The same thing needs to be done here.

Evaluating where you are right now, is always a great start.

Get together with the people you have decided to partner with. Identify the strengths each one has. Be aware of the weaknesses.

List down the highs that you have had in your careers and don’t shy away from explicitly talking about the lows. 

Get to know each other thoroughly.

#3 Figure out where you want to go

The next logical step is to figure out your destination. 

What is it that you want to achieve as a result of the system that you are trying to create?

What common objectives do you want to work towards?

Does your ONE BIG THING align to the common objective? If not, what is the best you can to align it? 

Having a crystal clear clarity on what you want to achieve as a result is the key.

#4 Know what will take you there  

When you have entered the destination and the app has figured out your current location, it identifies multiple routes and suggests the best possible one you should take.

This is what you need to do too.

Once you have the clarity on the where you are and where you want to go, brainstorm on what will get you there.

What are the ideas you have to be able to achieve what you have decided to?

 Brainstorm, list the ideas, combine them and finalize on what best could you do as a system to achieve the desired result.

Also, decide on the milestones on the way.

#5 What will tell you, you have arrived?

Efforts don’t essentially yield desired results. If all the efforts you take are in the opposite direction, then it would be futile.

So before you begin with the efforts, identify the parameters that will tell you you are progressing in the right direction.

Based on this create a scoreboard. Something that is simple, easy to update and propels you to take action. 

You will be more committed to achieving when you know you are winning. This scoreboard should be the means to know if you are!

#6 Last but not least, be accountable

Divide the milestones into weekly small tasks. At the beginning of every week, talk to each other and freeze on the action items.

Also, review the things done in the last week and how it has impacted the score. If it has a negative or no impact, figure out why and take corrective action in the coming week. 

The crux is to allow yourself to fail, but also learn and not repeat the mistakes that caused the failure. Take small consistent steps towards achieving big results.

Cutting the long story short,

knowing your one big thing is just the beginning, knowing the other tools is the interim, but thinking and operating in systems will give direction to your effort and ensure that you are achieving your desired grand career breakthroughs.

 If you want my help to create a system, do write to me at or schedule a no-cost strategy call at

Design Your Career is fully committed to help you uncover the best-kept secrets to assure grand career breakthroughs! 

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