Safe Certification

Systems Thinking Part-2

How understanding an aspect of systems thinking will guarantee success in life?

“Your future is NOT about where you are now,

it’s about where you’re going!”

Quite the bold statement to say understanding systems thinking leads to guaranteed life success, I must agree.  But if you are reading this now, then no doubt I have piqued your interest, and you are keen to know just how powerful this relationship dynamic is.

If you are already not familiar with the systems thinking concept, I recommend reading the blog that I had published earlier Systems thinking Series – Part 1

In a nutshell, systems thinking is simply looking at the big picture when making each decision, thus avoiding any adverse future impacts.  You may think to yourself that this is simple logic and really goes without saying and that you always have complete control while taking decisions.

But there are two challenges in doing so. Firstly, due to the complex interdependencies in the system, it is almost impossible to see the big picture using the human brain. And secondly, there is always a delay between the cause (decision) and effect (results).

Let us try and simplify this with an example.  Let’s say a normal human family is a system. It has many subsystems or elements such as individual family members, tangible systems such as home, car, furniture and so forth, and intangible systems such as emotions, feelings and behaviours.  As per the statistics, the average human makes 35,000 decisions a day.  Yes, 35,000 – that is no typo!  Considering the amount of decisions made, one cannot consider the impacts on all those subsystems that one is part of. To make the matter worse, 80% of decisions will have a delay between cause and effect.

Critically, if you understand the time lag between cause and effect, you will gain more control to determine your destiny.

In the beginning, we all enter this world with a blank canvass laid before us. As we grow and progress, we paint our canvass with our achievements, our goals, and we determine our future.  No matter the outcome or results we receive now, it is all a result of the effort we put in yesterday, last week, last month, last year or last decade.  This is because of the time lag between the cause and effect explained in systems thinking, and the problem is that many of us don’t understand this concept. Once we start seeing the results of our previous efforts, we start dropping the ball, but due to the systems thinking time delay, the effect can and will take some time to show. It will slowly drift people through the spiral, and when they start seeing that adverse effect, then start feeling the stress, depression and anxiety for not having the better results, thus drifting in the spiral even deeper.

Muhammad Ali, arguably the greatest boxing champion of all time, once said (and I quote):

“The fight is won or lost far away from

Witness – behind the lines, in the gym,

And out there on the road, long

Before I dance under the lights.”


What he is referring to is the system’s thinking cause and effect time delay. What you have to remember is the way you live life now was only made possible by your past efforts. Crucially, if you don’t continue to put the efforts in the present, you will never live the life you want.