Part 6: Systems of Growth

I was chatting on Facebook with some pals who were debating the minimum wage problems in America.  While I found the discussion interesting and even found I felt a lot of compassion for those who were struggling I came to one simple conclusion…actually a question.  I asked, “Why in the world would anyone be willing to wait on Congress to get an increase in wages?”  It was insanity to me.  No matter which side my Facebook pals were on (pro or con) they all agreed that it might be months, years, or forever before Congress decided to change anything.

The basic idea of this article is to hammer home the idea that YOU are in charge of your life!  You have the power to achieve your goals within yourself.

If you can get on board with this idea then you can find growth an amazingly rewarding process and I will show you how.

We (mankind) live in a world of systems. If you figure out the system you can almost always find a way to make it work for you. Auto mechanics is a system. Electricity is a system.  Even our economy is a system.

I realized a long time ago that being a Soldier in the Army required a lot more than just listening to superiors and coming to work on time.  The Army system for promotion is a great example.  For the most part the guys and gals who do the minimum end up on the bottom of the order of merit list (the promotion list in simple terms).  I realized that was not where I wanted to be.

I learned early on that the easiest way to get promotion points (to move up the list) was to earn them with high marksmanship and physical fitness scores.  With just a little extra effort (mastering my body and my rifle) I quickly surpassed most of my peers and made sergeant.  Well that is when it got competitive.  I learned that civilian and military education were the next pieces of the puzzle so I started taking classes.  Most troops wanted to party after duty hours so this is how I got the edge over them.

Guess what accidentally happened as I did the work to master the promotion system?  I learned a few things along the way.  My college coursework qualified me for Officer Candidate School and before I knew it I made a huge jump in pay and responsibility.  By making the transition to the officer corps I ended up getting some incredible experience that prepared me for life after retirement.  The moral to the story is that I stumbled on to success by simply taking advantage of the basic promotion system in the Army.  What systems are you already taking advantage of and what systems are available to you?

In the corporate world I have noticed that the most basic management jobs require a 4 year degree.  Some even want a degree and experience.  When I saw that I immediately wondered how anyone can just go from high school into the workforce and manage to pay bills.  It is a challenge for sure but there are great options out there in civil service.  I noticed that firemen, police officers, and EMS personnel (county and city employees) were able to get the experience they needed with a modest paycheck and benefits right out of high school.  In the most basic terms the system looks like this:

  1. High School Diploma qualifies teenagers for college or military/civil service or manual labor.
  2. Military/Civil Service pays the bills and opens up opportunities for education while giving experience.
  3. College education + experience opens up the entry level management positions.
  4. Management positions can lead to executive positions (career systems).

This is the most basic principle that I am talking about but so what…right?  Well the point worth noting is that growth happens when we are busy doing these things.  Your education, experience, and drive are the three component of personal growth.  Let’s look at another angle.

So many of my nephews and nieces (as well as dozens of Soldiers I worked with) wanted to get married immediately after high school.  The drive to find the right man/woman is amazingly strong in teenagers and those in their early twenties.  I suppose it is also strong in the over thirty crowd but for the sake of discussion let’s stick with the population under twenty five years old.

So we have one component of the system…drive (to get married and build a family).  What about education?  Is that a requirement for marriage?  Well it isn’t a formal requirement but it probably should be.  I say that because so often in our haste to find and marry that perfect person we usually have no idea how to build love, trust, and security.  All we have is that powerful attraction to start with.  So if I am correct and we need education to help the marriage along then where can we get it?  That is really one tough trick.

One source is family, but who wants to talk about those things with mom and dad?  I sure didn’t.  Another source is a good mentor like a religious/spiritual leader.  Where ever you go I bet the basic premise will be the same.  Read the following and decide if it makes sense to you.

  1. Happy living arrangements require communication skills, negotiations, and patience (not easy for someone under 25 to magically develop).
  2. Families need a place to live and food to eat which means bills/expenses.
  3. Bills/expenses require a job/income.
  4. A job/income requires…well the system we already mentioned above.

When you look at the way things are lined out, doesn’t it make sense to have the work system online and working before the marriage system begins?  It does to me now, but I was married before I was really ready to support my new family and that caused a lot of stress for me.  This leads us to the last component of growth leading up to marriage which is experience.

I submit that being aware of what your parents did well and what they didn’t do well is a great place to learn. Watching older siblings and even parents of your friends is another place to look.  The bottom line is this:  we need experience or we end up using trial and error.  Have you ever hear the cliché’ recreating the wheel?  It is not easy and it takes a long time if you don’t have a model to go by.

Lastly and by far the single most important point I want to illustrate is the system of happiness.  Now if you are thinking this is so simple and basic that it is a waste of your time then ask yourself this question.  How happy am I and how often and I happy?  I am betting the answer is…well I thought I was happy but I really seem to be stressed out most of the time or mad at my boss or even mad at my loved ones.  That isn’t happiness but the great news is there is a system for happiness.  The bad news is that the system for happiness changes a bit from person to person so this one really requires some thought (education), awareness (experience), and drive.
Ask yourself the following:

  1. What do you associate with happiness, joy, and good times?  If you said money then you are in big trouble but we are here to help.
  2. What do you notice that triggers frustration, stress, and anger? (these things crush happiness most of the time.)
  3. Who do you really want to share that happiness with first?
  4. How can you build the situation to produce (grow) happiness in your life?

I love to learn, teach, help, and interact.  These things stimulate those feelings that I call happiness.  I know that if I am developing college students, coaching martial artists, training Soldiers, or spending time with friends I am literally brimming with energy and excitement. What about you?

It is also helpful to know what things tend to bring about frustration, stress, and even anger.  I do my best to avoid annoying people, alcohol/drug impaired people, and hostile people.  I dislike financial worry, heavy manual labor, and arguments with no end.  What about you?

Let me just say that I am one of those simple guys who loves his wife.  I love being with her and talking with her and planning things with here.  If we are out visiting family or home alone, I have found that my wife is the first person I want to share my happiness with.  What about you?

The final trick is to build the situation that produces happiness for me.  I do this by working in a helping, training, coaching industry with high quality people who want to improve, and then I celebrate my success with my wife who by the way, handles all of those financially stressful things I prefer not to do.  What about you?

If you can answer the questions above then you should be able to figure out your systems on your own but I would love to help you.  Together we will work out the systems in your life that will unlock success and happiness for you.  If you decide that you need a little coaching just give us a call and we will do our part.  

The power for growth and success is literally in your hands.

Curtiss Robinson – Soldier, Mentor, Martial Artist

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