A thought on designing life's operating system inspired after a conversation I had with my engineering friend from the coaching project I ran.
The stereotype is that engineers tend to be systematic thinkers. Whether the field attracts these folks, or schooling molds such a mindset, or both I do not know.
What I know is that such a stereotype exists.
A systemic approach that I'd like to explore further in this piece is one of parallel processing aka doing 2+ things at once. Mind you this is not multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is an illusion that you can do multiple tasks at once when the reality is that you're just failing at doing a single task.
No, the parallel processing I'm referring to is designing a system where multiple objectives are being achieved with a single decision/task. The "two birds with one stone" idea.
An example is me finding a way to get my accounting designation whilst doing management consulting. Some like to live by the adage of "You can't have it all" but I think if you prioritize you'll be able to find a way to have it all.
In my conversation with my friend we were discussing her career strategy. But compartmentalization of work and life doesn't work. Well... it could.... if the goal was mediocrity... but my friend and I weren't living life to seek "contentment" so it was not an option. It became extremely obvious in our conversation that her desires to start a company, move to a different city and become an expert in her field were intertwined with her family and quality of life she wanted to have for her and her loved ones.
She had been looking at everything as a linear step. Start a company. Get into an incubator in Silicon Valley. Then grow the company. Then sell it. Then start another to grow the brand. Then move closer to her family. Then start something new there with the amassed experience.
Could this work? Maybe. A lot of things would need to go right for such steps to fall in order. Though it looks like the tried and trusted method that many look towards. Such a linear version that ignores so many of the important factors. Factors like, will her family even be there for her when she's ready? Will she even want to grow a company constantly away from her main purpose (i.e. family)? Will she even want to pursue mastery in the same current field 10 years later?
I haven't lived a long life. But I've been in more careers than some people will in their entire life. I am also obsessed with planning, which is a double-edged sword. Every time I transitioned into a new career field, you bet I planned out blueprints for the next 10 years. When we forecast, we tend to create anchors to our present baseline. Hence, my 10 year projections were all completely off. In addition, majority of the most interesting people I met in my past careers never knew they'd be where they current are, 10 years ago.
Hence, I felt my friend's linear forecast was over-optimistic and also not likely to stay the course in the long-term.
She had all the training in school and in her profession to be a systematic thinker and I very much believed she was. Hence I challenged her to think about constructing environments where she could have it all. At our jobs, we're always charged to think about ways where the company can "have it all" but when we're living our own life, the conventional wisdom tells us that "we can't have it all". It's a mindset shift that's required.
If her family was the focal point of her drive then she could just move. Geographically restructure the environment to be closer to family and start a company there if she wanted. Sure, it won't be silicon valley. That may be a plus. Because starting billion dollar companies won't give her any time to spend with her family, nor was it something she truly wanted to do. So being away from the competition may be a more optimal environment. Why be a small fish in a big pond instead of being a big fish in a small pond? Dominating a niche is how one would even have a chance of getting big in the first place anyways.
So she could go to a different environment where she would have more drive and purpose to do what she must do since the conditions provide immediate alignment with what she wants with her life right now. In the present moment.
She could construct her environment to let her hit two birds with one stone. Sure it won't be easy but nothing worth having ever comes easy. But it may be the custom system designed to work for her specific needs and desires to potentially have it all.
Isn't that what we want every effective system to do? Operate to allow you to have it all?
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