Work the System

Notes from Sam Carpenter’s Work the System:

Happiness and life-control arrive in direct proportion to the amount of value we produce for others.

It’s not mysterious tough luck that takes people down; it’s serial inefficiency. The great news is that inefficiency is easy to correct if one can see the cause of it.

The leader’s role is to first see the wheels of the machine, and then to get those wheels turning with maximum efficiency.

I just needed to identify individual processes and then optimize them one by one. The primary system would be super-efficient, the end product of the super-efficient subsystems that would compose it.

Unhappy people are not in control of their lives because they spend their days coping with the random bad results of unmanaged systems. Happy people are in control of their lives because they spend their days enjoying the intentional good results of managed systems.

The painful truth? Most people spend their lives trying to shuffle and reorganize the random bad results of unseen and therefore unmanaged systems. Read that again.

Your task is to optimize one system after another, not careen through the day randomly taking care of whatever problems erupt. Your job is not to be a fire killer. Your job is to prevent fires.

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