Recently I’ve read a handful of books about habits. I love the word habits and rituals. And I need more habits… good habits to be precise. I also have 30 or so students I am to be investing in, and many of them are desperate for better habits. Of all the books I’ve read recently about this topic,
- Atomic Habits
- The Power of Habit
- Eat That Frog
- The Compound Effect
I’d say this one, Simple Habits for Complex Times by Jennifer Garvey Berger and Keith Johnston was by far the richest book with the best content. Although it also had the most unassuming cover and title. I was pleasantly surprised.
I think this type of thing is something I excel at. I think that one of my key strengths is the ability to see a cluster of data points, a cluster of visible truths that seem random, and explain the underlying system behind it.
Like the overwhelming amount of information, we take in as we simply look up at the night sky. The amount of information we take in as leaders can be overwhelming. But do you know how to find the right important key facts.
To be the one who can see the truth in plain sight, you need to know where to look.
Do you know where to look?
This should be a relief. You don’t need to create the answer, just find it. Reveal it. Learning where to look (asking the right questions) will orient you.
Moana, yes the Disney princess, was a wayfinder. She knew where to look, found the constellation, and charted the right path.
Can you ask the right questions and truly understand what the problem is, and what the question behind the question (QBQ) is?
If you ask these new questions you’ll find new information. Information previously overlooked, because you were only asking questions that led to the conclusion that your past has already taught you to be true.
This new information may seem totally sperate like a silo or an island floating by itself.
Can you ask the right questions to reveal what’s really happening underneath? Can you accept this new, possibly counter-intuitive, information enough to view it with the new perspective. While in reality its just the small visible piece of a massive mountain range underneath the surface.
Asking the right questions, gives you the right information. Viewing it through a new perspectiv, adjusts your mindset for the new world.
Now create the right system.
Don’t just think in the mindset of minimizing presents risks. Don’t only ask things like.
- Who is at fault for this?
- What needs to be fixed?
- What is the most important issue
These are easy and superficial. These are questions that are results focused and not system focused.
What was it about the current system, that lead you to the results and problems you are facing now.
Enter the mindset of creating a better future, a better system. Ask things like…
- What are other ways of looking at this?
- What if we thought about it in a new way?
Creating a better system is difficult because we live in more than just a complicated world. A complicated world is something like watch making. There is nothing simple about it. It’s very complicated. But the world is closed, and there are not many outside factors infringing on it. It happens in a sterile and predictable environment.
On the other hand, you have the business of say an air traffic controlling. Complicated, yes, but also immenently changing, again, and again. It’s elevated from just complicated and now is complex. Massive of information are flowing in
And a second later, the current status of all the plots will be different. Complex.
Complex worlds are difficult because the cause and effect relationship is unpredictable. And it doesn’t repeat.
This means no more silver bullets. No more cookie cutter.
But at the risk of sounding cookie cutter, I want to end with simple a list of questions. A simple cheat sheet of the right questions for you to begin to implement in your leadership. Just asking these questions will not be your silver bullet, but it may began to help you find the right information and therefore view your problem from a new perspective.
Beginning to ask the right questions…
- What kind of stories are people telling now about this issue?
- What do people not talk about?
- If things were improving, what different stories would people tell?
Beginning to see new perspective…
- Which people are you not listening to and learning from well enough?
- What keeps you from doing this?
- What conversation should you be having?
Beginning to see the system…
- What are the forces that are keeping this issue stuck?
- Where are the bright spots: what might be the forces (or pockets) that are moving in a desired direction?
- What guesses do you have about what makes those bright spots more possible?
- How might you create similar conditions elsewhere or spread the bright spots?
May you look to ask the right questions, be committed to seeing from a new perspective and entering a new mindset. May you find the right complex systems for your predictable and unpredictable environments. May you enter your new ministry challenges with the heart of a way finder.
 Simple Habits for Complex Times. Page 17
 Simple Habits for Complex Times. Page 43.