Success can be defined as consistently achieving desired
results over time. And it follows that success is more
likely to come from orderly, productive, and effective
In the long-run, success depends on the balance between
chaos and systems in your life. The more order, structure,
discipline and routine in your life, and the more focused
you are on your goals, the more likely you will be
successful. Chaos, on the other hand, is the enemy of
We just witnessed this in the Olympics, both with individual
competitors and in the Games themselves.
No one competes in the Olympics by accident. Olympic
athletes train and prepare every day for years. They work
with the best coaches and study the techniques of the best
competitors. They use computer animation, slow-motion
photography, and endless hours of practice to get the
smallest details just right.
During the Olympics I saw a special on the dining facilities
in the Olympic Village. Everyday, they prepared thousands of
meals precisely tailored to each athlete’s specifications.
Some athletes wanted more protein, some more carbs. Others
focused on specific nutrients, while others need 10,000
calories a day to stay strong! Success at the Olympic level
depends on systems to get every detail just right!
And consider the games themselves. The timing of every event
was precise, sometimes to a thousandth of a second. Wind
speed was measured for the track and field events, water
temperature carefully controlled for the swimmers. Nothing
was left to chance!
Chaos is the enemy of success.
To achieve your goals, you need systems that are as complete
and well-designed as you can make them.
Every researcher, every manufacturing process, every
successful sales presentation requires organization. Every
attorney has a strategy and a system for winning her case.
Every doctor follows a precise process to get an accurate
And yet we live in a society that values spontaneity and
impulse gratification. I suspect all human beings are drawn
to “bright shiny objects.” We love the new and the novel. We
are easily distracted. As the poet wrote, “the best laid
plans of mice and men go oft astray.”
Many of us actually resist self-discipline and order in our
lives. We want to adjust our schedule on a moment’s notice.
There’s a sense of excitement in our daily surprises. As
much as we want success, we also want to be “free” and
spontaneous, and that’s wonderful. But it comes at a price.
Highly successful people develop and follow effective
systems. Would you want your doctor easily distracted or
trying something spontaneous in the middle of surgery? I
don’t think so!
I encourage you to develop a system that works for your
personality, and in your circumstances. But, you must have
a system! It must help you focus. It must help you be clear
about your goals and consistent in your actions. It must
help you be productive and avoid mistakes.
I’ve studied many types of systems over the years, and I
encourage you to experiment. But you can’t afford to
experiment endlessly! Don’t claim you are “searching for the
best system” when in fact you are avoiding the structure and
routine of systems altogether. Find a “good enough” system
and put it to work!
If you need a more effective system, I highly recommend one
my friend and colleague, Michael Angier, has developed. It’s
simple. It’s powerful. And it’s versatile enough to fit most
situations. He calls it “the three C’s” and it revolves
around Clarity (of purpose or goals), Concentration (focused
effort), and Consistency (getting things done). It works!
If you already have a system, good! Reading and
understanding his system may strengthen the one you have.
And if you don’t have an effective system, give this a try!
A financial note: I get no commission or fee of any kind if
you buy his book. Michael is a friend and I like to think
our discussions played a small role in helping him develop
the 3 C’s, but I recommend it because (1) you need a system,
and (2) this one is simple enough to be useful and powerful
enough to be effective.
by Philip E. Humbert, PhD