Probably the best business book ever written is a novel that teaches the principles and application of Systems Theory.
The book opens with this guy schlepping his butt to some factory in the midwest. When he arrives his parking space is occupied by his boss.
Big Bossman does what bosses do and leaders don’t, screams and yells at people to overcome their own shortcomings. One guy, the only guy trained on an important machine quits. You know. Typical start to a day for a manager at a production facility.
Big Bossman breaks everything, and screams fix it.
Then, as he gets up to leave, he tells Manager Guy that corporate needs to see improvement. Gives him three months to turn it around.
Ninety days to turn it around. If not, they’ll close the plant. Three hundred jobs will be lost. The last jobs for that small town.
90 days to turn a perpetual loser into a winner.
I grew up on the corner of Hope Street, here’s what it looks like today.
Buffalo, out to house coal miners. It’s down near West Virginia, in that corner of Ohio where people say youinz, not youz guys, or y’all. In the 70s my Dad scored a good job with benefits in a factory a few exits south.
I arrived in ’76 and watched as globalism killed the job market.
We sold the house I grew up in after Mikey died. We used to joke about Hope coming to our street to die. Seems like we weren’t too far off.
I left in SE Ohio 1994 for California beaches & bars. Never imagined I’d ever go back. But, life is funny that way – it’ll take you where you need to be to learn what you need to learn, whether you like it or not.
2013 – still a bartender, perpetually single, living in a single wide trailer with the Old Man, next to my broken down childhood home, on the corner of Hope Street.
The irony that a few years prior, I published a book subtitled “Soul Surfers Guide to Happiness through the Mastery of Self” and had achieved neither isn’t lost on me. Cracks me up a little.
My that birthday sucked.
It hit me in the parking lot at Seneca Lake, in front of the restrooms, to the left of the concession stand. After some tears, and a phone call from my best friend, I grabbed the notebook riding shot gun and wrote a note to self:
“Look around. This is it, all you get. Your version of hell. And if you can’t figure out how to be happy here, you probably can’t be happy.
STOP Trying to Escape Your Shitty Life”
Realized I needed to quit striving, so I tossed out my goals and started enjoying life as it was, and forgetting for a while how I wished it could be.
Dusted off the paddle board and made the rest of the summer revolve around the paddling, writing, and loving my life.
Read some books.
Watched some DVDs. Took road trips with the old man. Counted smiles at the bar 3 nights a week.
A few months later, system reset. Felt good to be me. In shape, writing every day, not letting dumb shit bother me.
The Old Man noticed. Ordered me to leave Ohio. Didn’t want me sticking around for him, wanted me to go find myself a good woman, and live the life of my dreams.
Started practicing this meditation I’d developed. Found what I call a “No Matter What Vision.” Transcribed notes from Future Self, and dreamed of living in Maui.
Planned it out. Then, at the end of summer, met up with a woman I knew from Facebook. We hit it off, and I traded Maui for Smith Mountain Lake to see where things went with her.
This was the view from our patio. We lived on that lake until 2016, then San Clemente, Boulder City (at Lake Mead outside of Vegas) and now Texas.
If you want, I’ll walk you through the 2021 version of that meditation, later. Let me know. Now…
Back to the Novel that introduced me to The Theory of Constraints.
I loved the book for countless reasons. High level concepts just wiggled into my brain. Great stories do that.
If you didn’t know, I am an obsessive note taker. I don’t just read books. I underline. Make notes in the margins. Star and box out good quotes and insights.
After I’m finished reading. I pull those out of the book into my journal. And then process the notes into a One Pager, so if I needed to teach the concept to a child, I could do that.
I pulled 3 full pages of notes in a sketch journal. (and I write pretty small). So, that’s a LOT of high level concepts wrapped into a story about figuring out the profitability of a factory while trying to save a marriage.
The premise of that book is simple.
Make Sure You Know What the Goal Actually IS!
Most businesses, and most people define their goals wrong, and even if they achieve their defined objective, they don’t achieve success.
Goldratt’s book walks you through how a manufacturing business clearly defines ONE objective, and how every other goal needs to support that goal.
The book shows you what to measure, and how to optimize.
It lays out a system of ongoing improvement through a set of principles you can apply to your life and your business.
So, please take note without that clarity, shit goes wrong.
And if things aren’t working out, you’re feeling stuck, overwhelmed, and pulled in a million different directions, I’d suggest you carve out some space in your life to get crystal clear on what your primary goal actually is, so you can make sure to optimize around it, because when you do that, everything falls into place differently.
Throw out all your assumptions.
Focus on one principle that you know is true. Reason out from there.
Take a moment to watch this.
“I think it’s most important to reason from First Principles, rather than by analogy. It’s much easier to reason through analogy.”
We will unpack this, and define some First Principles as we go, and along the way, we will also discuss the role of intuition, probability thinking, and Super Consciousness.
We start with System’s Theory, because the universe is one giant system… of systems, inside of systems.
You are a composed of several different body systems, living inside of human constructed systems, as well as an ecosystem of a planet that floats in a solar system, which is part of a galaxy….. And “Self-Organization” is a process that happens throughout all systems.
Put a pin in that concept — “Self” organization. We’ll circle back around to it, and discuss why there is so much resistance, confusion, and impotent outrage in the world today.
In short, the wrong “self” organizes most people’s day to day life.
Feeling like you just need to get out of your own way is a symptom that we need to reorient our “self.” But, before we get into that, I would suggest you study the theory of constraints, the theory popularized by Goldratt.
If you were my client, I’d walk you through adopting the theory of constraints in your life and your business, so you could open up your flow, leverage your attention better, and make life fun again.
After you got things sorted out, I’d introduce you to concept The Path of Least Resistance. Robert Frtiz wrote a book about, it, and we’d use his definition of the PoLR, even if it’s not actually a first principle.
Then, I would would suggest you get this book by Fritz, and read it, because it is one of the best descriptions of the creative structure and process that I’ve seen. Once you learn how to identify stuff that truly matters, with that framework, you can create it.
Not sure if you realize this, but it’s a hell of a lot easier to create a life you love, when you love the life you live. If I die before my vision is realized, that’s probably the most important thing I could say to anyone, so let me rephrase it.
You can spend your entire life worrying about shit that doesn’t matter, at the expense of enjoying moments with people who do. And you don’t have to wait to love the life you live. Do that first, then you will find the power, the will, and the fortitude to create a life that’s been stuck in your head.
Hopefully, this helps set you free and helps you love deeper.
Understand. Paradox is part of the human experience. You get to choose to have a confrontational relationship with objective reality or not. I did that for most of my life, so I ain’t judgin’ either way, I just hope this inspires you to stop fighting reality, and learn to work with it.
When you stop fighting objective reality, get clear on what you goal is, and use a proven process of creating, you might just surprise yourself.
Maybe. Maybe not. Seems to work like that for me.
The trick is, once you get clear on what you want to create, and know the structure (the essence of it – the way it feels to have it), you sit inside that feeling and wait for inspiration to strike.
When inspiration strikes, you take inspired actions.
AND… Don’t invest your identity in the outcomes.
If you’ve never read the book, you might want to.
If you stop here, and go back to read what I just wrote, you’ll figure it out on your own.
We just love to add layers of complexity to simple things, don’t we?
That would be the best place to start by the way… Reduce complexity.
To help you get clear, so you reduce complexity, I think it’s important for each of us to take an honest look at exactly what drives us.
What are the internal needs we’re seeking through all that we do.
Then, I’d suggest you watch this video…
Tony Robbins On the 6 Human Needs
- Certainty: We want to be sure we will avoid pain and gain pleasure
- Uncertainty/Variety: Part of us loves the unknown, new — shiny things — craves change.
- Significance: We all want to feel important. Needed. Recognized for our uniqueness.
- Connection/Love: Union with someone (or something) — to feel a strong sense of closeness.
- Growth: We want to expand our capacity, upgrade our capabilities, or increase understanding.
- Contribution: To be of service, focus on helping others, to give, and to support others.
Knowing those basic needs is helpful.
I wish that I could say that after seeing that video it clicked and I got it, but, I’m sort of slow or stubborn or something, because for me, it always felt like an invisible force field kept me from having what I wanted.
And it SUUUUCKED.
Steven Pressfield helped me realize that the struggle is real, he even gave it a name, Resistance – a dark force of nature in the universe that manifests in all of us and stands in the way of our dreams.
We’ll circle back around to that, but since I shared a Tony Robbins video, I want to address an elephant in the room.
A one-size-fits-all self-development system is a myth
Just because it works for others, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you, and that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.
I love most of the “gurus” out there sharing what worked for them, I really do. Not sure I’d be who I am today without them. But now, I believe a lot of well intentioned people are doing more harm than good in the name of ‘self-development.’
We’ll discuss it a little later, when we get into the idea of endings and beginning. The gist most of the the books, programs and the multi-day break-down-to-breakthrough events are built and sold on the flawed idea that you are broken and you need to be fixed. The idea that you need to “develop yourself” is ridiculous.
On surface it seems logical to “develop yourself” so you can finally achieve or unlock some level. Yes. You might need to develop skills in several different areas, to up level your capacities, knowledge, and mental models, but none of that is “self.”
It’s easy to confuse “persona” for Self and spend a lifetime trying to fix something that you created, instead of just creating something that matters.
What I’m saying is, if like me, you’ve tried most of the programs, read all the books, and none of it worked, and it made you feel even more broken, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you.
If I were you coach, you’d get sick of me saying.
“YOU ARE NOT BROKEN!“
Could be… step one they taught you, is 10 steps from where you are.
Or maybe it’s just a matter of figuring out how to… build capacity to hold attention and tension.
The simple fact is. the correct answer to the wrong question will always produce crappy results every time.
I don’t subscribe to the idea that you need to eliminate limiting beliefs, walk on fire, jump in a cold lake, or do anything to shock your system into resilience. Might work for some people. I can see the benefit of cold water therapy, but the rest of it seems like hyperbole and bullshit to me.
My version of the Transformational Process is different.
It’s about choices, decisions, action, and feedback loops.
If none of that other stuff worked for you, I believe this free course might help you see the reason why the other stuff didn’t, as well as give you the entire framework that does work.
And oddly, after your perspective changes, you can revisit some of the processes that didn’t work, and they might actually work for you now.
Which reminds me of another reason I love the book “The Goal” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt, it helped me conceptualize my own process for transformation that began by happenstance in the summer of 2013.
Here’s how I drew it out…
The Tao of Tim
Pause. Get Stoked. Flow.
Attention — Energy — Results
You get to define what’s meaningful to you.
And you get to create it.
But, you have to understand why you get stuck in feedback loop hell, and how to shift your attention and energy to get out.
I define the “throughput” in three areas:
I optimize for happy….
Happy clients. Happy Life. Happy Wife.
Happy life being the bridge between the two.
This helps me identify bottlenecks, break them, and make adjustments to my energy flow.
If you were my client, I’d walk you through defining your goal, finding the first principles, and helping you find your bottlenecks so we could begin to optimize your flow.
Your next best step and mine are completely different, but I do have a collection of proven tools and processes to help you figure it out.
But, as my client you’d be reminded that no one else lives in your skin.
Trust yourself to make choices. Decide what action to take. See what happens. Adjust as you go. I’m here to help you adjust, like a yoga teacher who barely touches your shoulders and shows you how to properly roll them back so you can sink into a pose.
My job is to ask questions, and introduce you to some mental frameworks, core principles & ideas. Hopefully, at the very least, it helps you see the world differently, and create stuff that matters.
Let’s start by unpacking three ideas.
- Why believing in yourself might not be required (on this page)
- What it means to be in the GAP, why it triggers anxiety, and how can you actually enjoy it (next page for 2 & 3)
- The Story of You, how to make it better
Okay first idea…
You don’t actually have to believe in yourself
On May 7, 2011, HBO aired “Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour at Madison Square Garden.”
If you don’t know, selling out Madison Square Garden is a pretty big deal. To attract, grab and hold that much attention is no small feat.You really have to be able to reach down and touch something that truly resonates, something deep in the collective unconscious. Something primal, visceral – a shared experience.
Gaga does that very well for some people. Maybe not for you, but to her fans, she hits a nerve. Take a moment to watch this
“I just sometimes feel like a
loser still kid in high school.”
Like she reached in and ripped thoughts out of my head!
She has to tell herself she’s a superstar EVERY MORNING!
Gaga deals with the same shit we do, the crushing weight of…
Am I worthy?
Am I good enough?
And she has the added pressure of being in the spotlight and under a microscope.
So please pay attention to this right here…
When you try to shine, people line up to help “put you in your place.”
Any time you think outside the box, and/or express something they don’t understand or would rather ignore, people will get offended.
Doesn’t matter if you’re famous, just trying to finally get your shit together, or somewhere in between, people will push back.
It’s natural. Primal. Some of those people think they’re trying to protect you, they think they’re helping you.
The point of sharing the video, was to help you realize, if you don’t know already, because seems like we forget this easily…
… feeling is a very common human experience.
The Self-Help Industry makes it worse. (more on that later).
The Gaga Clip is a mini-Hero’s Journey
Gaga verbalizes the struggle between Identity and Essence.
3:56 seconds takes you through the entire Transformational Journey. Notice her prayer. It’s got a huge secret. Her can only live for other people. (this is a very important concept) I learned it in AA and while watching Batman Begins.
To get over yourself, you have to be of service to something greater.
Or as Raza Gul says “be more than a man. Become and Ideal.” I wrote about that a few years ago here.
In the Gaga clip, she reminds herself that this performance transcends this woman about to take the stage, that the next few hours isn’t about one woman, that this moment is bigger than her.
Gaga lives for her fans in-spite of the naysayers (outside and in).
She stands for something greater than herself, and her music sings to a real, and shared pain. Maybe not one that you’ve felt. But, it’s real enough to her, and her fans.
That night, Gaga served the message of a shared pain to a stadium full of people lost themselves in the moment and bonded around that pain, and the hope that springs eternal just beneath the pain of vulnerability.
Great art does that. It touches a nerve. And not everyone feels it, but those who get it, just get it.
And I believe that YOU have something like that to share, or at the very least, I can show you how to make your life a work of art.
Watching Gaga’s Clip made me realize I could just.
Throw out the assumption that you need to believe in Yourself to be worthy of creating what you want in life – because it’s just not true.
Testing that idea against reality was pretty easy.
My wife digs me. Clients love working with me. The last eight moves, my neighbors were sad when we moved, and every neighbor around us gets along with us just fine.
And I STILL don’t feel worthy of any of it.
Hell, I barely even like myself most of the time.
It’s true, but a few years ago, I stopped letting opinions become facts. And if, I were your coach, I’d help you to stop arguing with yourself and just get on with it.
Create whatever matters to you.
It’s not about worth.
Stopped trying to convince yourself of it either way. Good. Not good. Doesn’t matter. Just get on with it. Create something and let it exist.
Says nothing about you.
No affirmations required.
No cold showers to shock me into a powerful state. And I never rewired my limiting beliefs. They’re still there. I suspect they always will be.
On the previous page we discussed attachment and breaking free, and I showed you the transformational frameworks for storytelling.
This page we discussed using system’s theory to optimize your life and transform it in 90 days, and discussed inner needs as well as limiting beliefs.
On the next page, we’ll discuss the GAP the space from where you are to where you want to be, and a few more concepts around the transformational journey.
Hope this helps.
Love your face!