055 How structure helps you create what matters most

If we are going to create what matters most for our future, we need to take a deep look into the one thing we are largely oblivious to: the structure in which we work.

How structure helps you create what matters most

This week’s Inspire Me quote is from J.C. Ryle:

“He would would build high, must first dig deep.”

In episode 50, Leary and Armin talked about the need to develop strategic margin. The key concept from that episode is that to increase margin, it’s more effective to increase personal power than decreasing load. This episode discusses the last of five ways to increase your personal power by increasing your structural power.

Structure is the support system we use to accomplish our goals. We need structure especially in areas where we are weakest. But most of the time we are unaware of it.

Leary likens structure to ballroom dance. Both have three essential components: routine, rhythm and relationship. In dance you learn your steps (that’s the routine), you learn your timing (that’s the rhythm), and you learn to do it cooperatively with a dance partner (that’s the relationship). To accomplish your purposes, you have the same three elements. Routine are the habits you form to do what you do. It is the what. Rhythm are the pace and times you do what you do. It is the how. And, relationship are the people that support what and how you do it. It is the who.

Our personal structure may be more or less fluid. Changing our structure is key to gaining strategic margin. We can change our activities, but we need to understand something of our underlying structure first. According to Robert Fritz, “If you try to change your behavior without first changing the underlying structure causing that behavior, you will not succeed. This is because structure determines behavior, not the other way around.”

Structure forms unconsciously but can only be reconfigured consciously. We are naturally resistant to change, so our ego will defend the current structure. That’s why this element is the hardest of the five elements we’ve discussed to achieve greater strategic margin. The way you evaluate and change structure is to:

  1. Understand what you’re trying to accomplish; who you want to become. The goal is to create alignment between what you want to create in yourself and the system in which you do it.
  2. Evaluate your routine; your formed habits (what you do). Episode 21: How to create habits for your next great beginning, discusses this. Ask yourself, how well do the habits I have contribute to what is important to me?
    Where am I wasting time? What are the inefficient ways I do things?
  3. Evaluate your rhythm (how you do it). This may be micro-level rhythm (when and how you apply your energy on a daily basis) or macro-level rhythm (seasonal activities you may engage in). Sleep, exercise, diet also affects rhythm and your energy level. Am I working on the best things according to my energy level? Am I practicing good self-care to keep my energy reserves well maintained?
  4. Evaluate your relationships (with whom you rely upon). Build positive relationships that will support your future. Am I cultivating relationships with positive people who support my growth?
    Commit to intentional experimentation → risk-taking

To make these changes requires two fundamental commitments: the commitment to experimentation and the commitment to identifying the tensions that we manage. Leary discussed three: the tension of process, control, and motivation.

This week’s Challenge Me:

What are your personal and professional aspirations for three years from now? Is your current structure going to achieve your goals?

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