I have a love/hate relationship with systems. As a business owner I know how hugely valuable systems are – but as someone who likes to go with the flow, follow my inspiration and do things that fill my heart with joy – systems can often feel very restrictive.
And the rigidity of some systems – especially in big corporations or organisations – means that some things simply can’t be done – not because they can’t be done physically but because the system won’t allow it.
My favourite example happened in South America when I once went to the Post Office to buy some stamps – the post office was open and the cashier who normally sells the stamps was there. It was 27 years ago and everything was manual – I don’t think they had an electric till even – yet she couldn’t sell me stamps because it wasn’t yet 2pm!
I could of course understand that it was lunchtime and she might want to take a lunch break – or have other important work to do – but why not simply close up shop? I was so outraged I remember this incident years later (although that might have been because I was 21 and full of myself!)
However I digress, today I was reminded how efficient things are when you have supportive systems in place!
Last Friday my daughter broke her wrist – they put a temporary cast on over the weekend and we had to return to the hospital today to see a fracture specialist and get a permanent cast.
The last thing I expected was to receive a business lesson in systems!
When it was our turn, we were called through to the clinic and shown to a bay where we waited for the consultant. He saw my daughter, confirmed her wrist was indeed broken, showed us the X-rays and answered our questions. He then gave us a form to take to reception to make a follow-up appointment, and a form for the plaster room.
I was struck by how everything was set up for him to do what he’s best at – seeing patients. By only seeing patients and having other staff do everything else means he gets to see more people – a very efficient and productive system.
Indeed this was something I learnt many years ago – focus on doing the things you’re great at and outsource everything else. I took this advice to heart, and outsourced a lot in my business. However I discovered that instead of consciously using that extra time to focus on income generating activities, my “extra time” got eaten up by other things (managing my team, and creating systems for one!)
So I didn’t experience the freedom – or the increase in personal income that I craved.
However, back then I didn’t have the awareness I have now. Now I can clearly see that outsourcing wasn’t the issue, the issue was that I hadn’t mastered the art of prioritising and focus.
Outsourcing is great – once you’ve mastered prioritising, and you focus on the 20% of activities that generate 80% of your income!
At the hospital they have amazing systems in place because they prioritise seeing the greatest number of patients in the shortest possible time – and utilise the skills of the staff to their best advantage.
So when we went through to the plaster room I was very impressed by how quick and how proficient everything was. The nurse put the new plaster on in a matter of minutes. And so neatly – because of course she was doing this one thing day in, day out. She was an expert at it.
It was a reminder to me that there are things I am particular gifted at – that I can do so easily it feels effortless – things that other people really struggle with. Things that I overlook because they seem so obvious! One of these is being able to see the highest potential in people – and that when they connect with that part of themselves they know they can accomplish anything – that the vision they dream of is actually do-able and will take a lot less time than they previously thought! Which is huge – because they then go out and do amazing things – they think I’m amazing but actually it’s them who are amazing – I am merely the mirror reflecting their own awesomeness.
Other people are gifted with systems. For them my insights are so obvious they’re wondering what all the fuss is about!
But there’s another key piece I learned about systems today. If you have a lifestyle business or work in the area of transformation, you are the heart of your business, which means the systems you operate need to fit you. They need to feel supportive and expansive rather than restrictive and contracting.
Structure the system (or blueprint) around you and your business – rather than trying to squish yourself into one that really isn’t a fit!
So take heed if a system isn’t working for you – it might not be the system itself that’s the issue – it might simply need some tweaks and alterations so it fits you like a glove!
And if you need any help with this – or are frustrated because the blueprint you’re trying to follow isn’t working for you, do get in touch.
I’m not an expert in creating systems (far from it) but I am a genius in taking a tried and tested system and adapting it to fit like a glove! Another of my super powers I’d dismissed because I thought it was something everyone could do!