Scott Adams created the “Dilbert” comic-strip, which is in over 2,000 newspapers in 57 countries. He is also a best-selling author with his books, “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big”, “God’s Debris”, and “The Dilbert Principle”.
Scott Adams says to choose projects and habits that give you transferable skills or relationships that you can use in the future. If we break this down to determine the difference between goals and systems, we can ask ourselves, “What short-term goal can I achieve?” or “What persistent skills or relationships can I develop?” The second question leads to a system which allows us to fail in reaching some of our short term goals, but in the long-term, it adds value.
Scott believes in this so much, he wrote a book about it! He also did this himself with blogging. He said when he first started blogging, “it seemed to double my workload while promising a 5% higher income that didn’t..make any difference”. It often seemed like a “silly” use of his time, but to him it was a system. It actually allowed him to learn what his readers were picking up on and what topics they liked so when he landed an opportunity to write for the Wall Street Journal, his articles became very popular. This snowballed for him, because while the original articles didn’t make him a ton of money, it got the attention of publishers and a book deal with even more popularity and a bigger payout.
We can use Scott’s example on how he’s created success for himself by having systems instead of goals. He tells us, “Losers have goals. Winners have systems”. From his story, he essentially didn’t “win” with his blog, or even with the Wall Street Journal articles. The win came much later with a successful book deal and appearances. He had no idea that his blog would give him the skills he needed or lead to become a best-selling author. He just started the blog to become better at writing, because writing is a skill he needed to practice to get better at. He kept working at it and eventually it opened doors for him.
Next time you’re thinking about your career or something you’d like to learn, see how you can create a system that will continue to give you skills and relationships even if you fail along the way.
What systems do you have in place and follow? Have they helped you out? Let us know in the comments!
Ferriss, Timothy, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers HMH Books, 2016.