Complexity


Welcome! Thanks for stopping by to read my post. I really appreciate everyone who comes to read my posts. Thank you.

Peter Senge wrote an excellent book The Fifth Discipline that I read many years ago. It’s an excellent read that got me started into an area of study called Systems Thinking.

His book and some personal observations gave me a lot of guidance on how to approach problems both professionally and personally.

The premise I based my observations on is that the complexity of a system is derived from three factors:

  1. The number of inputs to the system that have an impact on the outputs
  2. The time delay between cause and effect
  3. The variability of effects interventions can have on the final outcome

My goal is to understand these elements of any problem, place, or group so I can operate inside them effectively.

Before I lose you let me get to the point. When we feel frustrated, confused, or powerless, it’s often born out of the complexity of the situation and our our lack of understanding of what is happening and not anything actually untoward happening. We want things to be simpler so we can predict the outcomes and feel safer. When we can’t, many of us freak out and predict bad things are coming.

This is why so much of the time we get frustrated when things don’t go the way we predict or are used to. This is why many enlightened people like Gandhi recommend “seeking first to understand.” Gaining knowledge of a system will help us feel safer and thus our interactions in the situation will be more clear-headed.

The challenge is that being part of the human experience, we often find ourselves in places and groups where the complexity is beyond our understanding, and the sense of urgency for us to take action is immediate, e.g. interacting with our in-laws, buying a house, interacting with a government agency, working in a new company, etc…

In these situations we have to remind ourselves that its OK to feel out of control and to find resources who can help us. In some cases we employ people, e.g. therapists, and lawyers. In other cases these people have a shared interest in the situation, e.g.bosses, mentors, advocates, spouses, and partners.

So when you feel frustrated or even angry at the situation, remind yourself that you can take a moment. In that moment remind yourself that you aren’t in a terrible situation. In the moment between two seconds you can let go of your fear or frustration and decide instead to ask questions, take the time you need to analyze, and to ask for help. Getting information, taking the time you need and getting support will help you get grounded and act in ways that advocate for yourself and help you achieve your needs and goals.

One final note I’ll make on this — if you find that for your life feels out of your control all the time, realize that you may be in a process where you create complexity and that the solution doesn’t come from other people but from inside. You may just need to simplify your life. As the Alcoholics Anonymous slogan goes, “KISS: keep it simple [silly].”

Thank you for sharing in my blog experience. Its a true pleasure to share these with you.

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