In the book Work The System, Sam Carpenter states that reality is composed of a large number of systems, that for 96% work flawlessly:
I work the system, but not just one. I work all the systems in my control— professional, financial, social, biological, and mechanical. You have your own systems. Do you see them? Do you control them? It doesn’t matter whether you are a CEO, employee, stay-at-home mom or dad, retiree, or student. Your life is composed of systems that are yours to control—or not control.
My personal summary of the method:
- Identify or define a system, for instance your weekly shopping round
- Design ways to decompose the workings of this system, identify ways to control it
- Compose the improved version of the system by writing a procedure or installing a life hack
- After every iteration, evaluate the improvements (Kaizen)
Reading this book certainly changed my perspective, my way of looking at my circumstances. Most people define a large portion of the things happening to them as fate and feel helpless about a lot of their life events. When you have the epiphany of, what the author calls, the systems mindset, you not only recognise a lot of systems in your life, but you can also design ways to control them and thereby improving the outcome of the circumstances to your advantage.
Systems are everywhere, even your own body and health can be viewed as systems that are either under your control or not, but when you can control them, you should try to improve.
The systems mindset is rational, the way to optimize the systems is largely a cerebral activity, spirituality, emotions, the heart, are not considered by the author. That is a limitation of the approach but still I find this way to reduce learned helplessness very inspiring.
The OS Fund
Last month, I listened to the conversation between Tim Ferriss and Bryan Johnson, investor. They talked about the so called OS Fund. This fund of 100 M US$, promotes the mindset of what they call analysing the underlying operating system of phenomena, like economics, medicine, trade, aviation, space travel, etc.
In the same way that computers have operating systems at their core — dictating the way a computer works and serving as a foundation upon which all applications are built — everything in life has an operating system (OS). It is at the OS level that we most frequently experience a quantum leap in progress.
Bryan Johnson has high ambitions. We can improve the intricate mechanics of reality, just like we can improve the operating system of a computer.