The Value of a Good System

By John C. Maxwell

Almost nightly, the fate of the American health care system headlines the evening news. With costly inefficiencies plaguing the system, employers and workers alike have felt the pain of skyrocketing premiums. Politicians on opposite ends of the political spectrum disagree on the best policies for the future, but there seems to be consensus that the system isn't working well.

I'm not advocating a position in the health care debate. I simply want to point out the headaches caused when we don't have good systems. What's true nationally applies individually as well. Broken systems lead to disorganization, confusion, and chaos whereas smooth systems allow us to move quickly and efficiently.

The reason for this lesson is to help you understand the importance of developing good systems in your personal and professional leadership. The exact systems that work for me may not pertain to you. It's up to you to find the systems that will benefit you the most. Yet, regardless of what your systems look like, you would be wise to design them if you intend to grow in influence.

What Is a System?
A system is simply your way of getting things done. Systems aren't one-time acts; they're habits that you do weekly or even daily. They're the mechanics of leadership, and over time, they dictate the extent of your effectiveness.

The Value of Systems
1) They Help Us Manage Time

As a young leader, a heavier workload and increasing demands on my time forced me to learn how to get things done quickly. I developed systems to squeeze as much productivity as possible into my day. I couldn't afford to move slowly.

As Peter Drucker wrote, "Everything requires time. It is the one truly universal condition. All work takes place in time and uses up time. Yet most people take for granted, this unique, irreplaceable, and necessary resource. Nothing else, perhaps, distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time."

2) They Help Us Conserve Energy

When we have good systems in life, we don't waste energy. Do you know the number one waster of time? Looking for things that are lost. A study by Office World News found that the average executive squanders 150 hours each year looking for misplaced files.

As I worked on this lesson, I laughed because I knew it would bring up a few of my idiosyncrasies. For example, when I went to get my glasses the last time, I ordered six pairs-one to put at each of my favorite reading places. I don't have to carry a pair around with me, and when I sit down they're always convenient. It may seem like a silly system, but I never lose time rummaging around for a pair of reading glasses.

3) They Help Us to Multiply Creativity

When I was first married, my wife and I lived in south Indiana, and we didn't have any money. Margaret taught kindergarten, and I was a pastor making $80 per week. Margaret would ask me to mow the lawn, and I would get irritated because we didn't have money to hire someone else to tend to the lawn. There's nothing wrong with mowing, but I had lots of other priorities, and mowing didn't crack my top ten. So, eventually we bought a goat. He grazed on the grass, and I saved time!

Developing systems to handle the trivia of life frees you up to be creative. By automating repetitive tasks, you're able to focus mental energy on top priorities.

4) They Help Us to Maximize Progress

Systems help us to move forward, to go as far as we possibly can. They enable us to work faster, smarter, and more strategically. A good system eliminates waste, while it also anticipates and removes obstacles.

To get the most out of systems, you have to make them a lifestyle not a one-off deal. They must become ingrained in your routine. Systems only benefit you when you stick to them.

REVIEW
The Value of Systems

1) They Help Us Manage Time
2) They Help Us Conserve Energy
3) They Help Us to Multiply Creativity
4) They Help Us to Maximize Progress


About the Author
John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold over 16 million books. EQUIP, the organization he founded has trained more than 2 million leaders worldwide. Every year he speaks to Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and audiences as diverse as the United States Military Academy at West Point, the National Football League, and ambassadors at the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell was named the World's Top Leadership Guru by Leadershipgurus.net. He was also one of only 25 authors and artists named to Amazon.com's 10th Anniversary Hall of Fame. Three of his books, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader have each sold over a million copies. Visit his website for more at www.JohnMaxwell.com

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