Disorder and order

The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that a system will become more disordered as time increases.

That’s why whenever a room is cleaned it eventually becomes messy again or when a garden isn’t tended to it becomes overrun with weeds.

Blame it on complacency or distraction, we let parts of our lives slip into disorder all the time. And if we want to make it orderly again, we have to interject more energy and care into the system.


Except, our willpower is finite. We can’t possibly put 100% effort and energy into every facet and shade of our lives.

That’s a problem.

So, you have to compromise and pick the spots you care about the most. You have to be intentional about the things you don’t want to slip into disorder.

If you are going to yes to this, what are you prepared to say no to?

The good news is you get to decide what is important enough to be orderly and what is cruft.

Square peg and round hole

Machines are mechanical thinkers. They think within a system. They follow the rules and laws in place. Machines are not questioning what their place is, they just do what they are told.

Humans, on the other hand, have a unique ability to jump out of the system and ask why questions. We can search for meaning.

For 200 years, we have used humans to do the work of machines. Now, computers handle the tasks with more speed, accuracy and they don’t need bathroom breaks.

The bad habit organizations are still having a hard time breaking is this:

As a leader, when you are talking about how we can make more impact, how can we change things, your team is stuck thinking mechanically.

Competence is perceived as safe, a sure way to keep your job/paycheck/healthcare.

Change creates friction. The kind of friction of “I am no longer competent at what I am doing.” And if I am not competent, I am exposed. If I’m exposed, I am going to get fired.

It’s a choice.

The irony is, change is constantly happening. Faster than even 10 years ago. And while the masses are scrambling to grasp at the remaining straws, the ones who are thriving are the ones embracing an unclear future.

How to tell someone they’re wrong

You can’t. And it is futile to try.

No one wants to be told they’re wrong. They want to be told a story that aligns with how they see the world.

The addict knows that their lifestyle is bad for their health. But they keeping doing what they are doing because they have told a story that they can keep it under control. It’s the story that gets them to believe that the benefits outweigh the cost.

Until they’re stuck.

Everyone wants to see is a path to preserve themselves. Everyone.

Your job then is to shine a light on that.

And if you are lucky, you can help those see what you see.

A theory survives by adapting

Organisms adapt to the environment as part of a biological and ecological response to survive in a world that is constantly trying to kill them.

There is no difference in how ideas survive.

They follow the same rules. The ones that thrive stick together and learn how to adapt to their surroundings.

It’s highly unlikely, however, that your original idea to start a business or to start a movement is the actual solution to someone’s problem.

It’s a theory.

But if you care enough about the industry, care enough about the work you do, and seek out to understand the pain points of those you want to change…

Then you can understand and start to morph those theories into something useful.

Adapt, test, measure, repeat.

Have to’s and want to’s

There are two types of reactions when the alarm goes off really early in the morning.

For those of us that have to get up, they wait in bed contemplating how difficult the tasks of the day lie ahead. Perhaps, they hit the snooze button even.

For those who want to get up though, they find a way to start their morning routine. Despite feeling groggy. Despite not feeling ready.

Same scenario. Different attitudes.

Trying to get through one day at a time could lead us to trying to get through our lives…treating it like a gauntlet.

Today is urgent and it is as good as time as any to start making it important.

Not yet

There are two types of mindsets:

A fixed mindset is the believe that the basic qualities of an individual or group are what they are. They will never grow, they will never change. Factors like IQ and skills are capped out to the abilities of that person.

A growth mindset is completely different. A growth mindset signals that you believe intelligence and skills can grow with practice. That what is today, doesn’t have to dictate what is tomorrow.

We have to be completely clear on this because I think it’s important: The brain can adapt and change depending on its environment.

So, if we know that change can happen in the right conditions, in the right environment, in the right circumstances coupled with the right effort and the right emotional energy, why is it so hard for us to accept that failure today doesn’t indicate failure tomorrow?

The truth is, we are just not there yet.

Not yet signals that I am on a learning curve. Not yet suggests that I’m moving forward despite adversity and challenge. Not yet means that despite falling seven times, I am getting up eight.

The crux is when we make a mistake.

When we make a mistake we fail to recognize the difference between guilt and shame.

Guilt is coming short, feeling sorry for your actions that leads us to want to do better. Sometimes it can motivate us and start an up-cycle (“I can practice this and get better at it”). Shame, on the other hand, is the believe that we are a failure. So, why even try to change? Sending us on the path of a downward cycle.

We live in a culture that doesn’t understand failure. We use shame as a means to an end. And it cripples us. Every day.

Difficult to pull ourselves out of a downward cycle if the only feedback we get is results based, instead of the effort we put in.

It is far better to reach higher, dare greater and to fail than it is to live with the status-quo. No one ever did anything important by drawing within the lines.

Building a better system and ten ways to hack it

Our default settings suggest that in order to solve a problem, we need to put more effort into finding the solution. But research has shown again and again, that will-power is finite, a resource that will deplete rather quickly.

There are far better ways to improve yourself than simply trying harder. The answer then is to build a better system.

Human beings have an incredible ability to jump in and out of systems. We are the only creatures on this planet that can do this.

We can operate within the rules, constraints and boundaries of the system. And at the same time, we can break the rules, constraints and boundaries. We can think about the system as a whole, from the outside in.

We don’t spend enough time creating a system that would lead us to the continuous desired results we seek.

On this blog, I’ve talked about finding better ways to change our default settings or making change happen. More often than not, I am talking the building a better system that will help you live the life you deserve.

Ten ways to hack the system:

  1. Don’t make 20 year plans. Instead, make a 20 year commitment.
  2. Once you make a commitment, then the challenge moving forward is to keep your promise.
  3. If you don’t have a TV, you’re not tempted to watch it.
  4. You’re far less likely to check your apps if you have to sign-in to them each time.
  5. Money is a story. A story we tell ourselves. Debt free-living maybe one of the greatest single hacks I am aware of that will give you the freedom to design the life you want to live.
  6. A house, cars, clothes, electronics…are status symbols. Higher cultural status rarely ever leads us to a life of joy or meaning or happiness.
  7. Too often, we fall into this trap of a fixed mindset. We let our biases, prejudices get in the way of the endless possibilities that are available. Adopt a mindset of growth. What is isn’t what has to be.
  8. Triggers send us into cycles. Identifying triggers could, theoretically, help us avoid unwanted cycles.
  9. The number one factor in measuring happiness: the quality of our relationships.
  10. We can change external conditions. But we can go a lot further by changing how we perceive them.