Do you know how to apply systematic thinking?

If we had to choose one person who has innovated the way we approach age-old problems the most, we’d have to choose Elon Musk. He’s rewritten the handbook on electric transportation, transformed the way we see space exploration, and even sent shockwaves through the investment world.

However, these remarkable accomplishments weren’t due to his exceptional brain or deep pockets. Those kinds of things are wasted every day. No, Elon Musk has accomplished so much because of how he thinks, and you can adapt your mindset to think the same way with surprising results. As Elon said himself, “What makes innovative thinking happen? I think it’s a mindset.”

Here are ten ways you can apply systematic thinking to your lifestyle and approach to problem-solving for a more successful life.

 Approach Problems with the “First Principles” Philosophy

The first principle’s philosophy is a major reason behind Elon’s success. It requires us to break a problem down into its most basic points to understand it better and come at it from a fresh perspective.

Think of it as spring cleaning. You get rid of all the clutter, and you have a blank slate to work with as you redecorate.

job interview

Look at Time Differently

Elon doesn’t look at problems based on one precise moment in time. He looks at how things were before the problem revealed itself, how that problem is currently growing and affecting the system as a whole, and what that will likely cause in the future. This gives him a better view of the situation as a whole.

Look at How Everything Interacts

Rarely is a problem occurring based on one part of the overall system. Take the time to look at all the key parts to see how they interact, where conflicts occur, and how those conflicts can be removed.

This is kind of like a car. You have the whole system working in unison, but if a fuel line leaks, several other parts begin to fail or underperform.

Cut Out Unnecessary Factors

Even the most streamlined approaches have extraneous factors thrown in. Maybe you have an underperforming employee whose position isn’t necessary, or you buy a lot of extra food you don’t need.

By analyzing your overall approach to things and trimming the fat, you can work more efficiently towards a goal.

Self Educate on how to apply systematic thinking

After primary school, many of us stop trying to learn. The fact is, none of us have everything figured out, and it’s important to constantly pursue new information to remain competitive. Even great minds like Musk and Bezos frequently seek out new information they can use.

Reading book

Focus on Solutions Instead of Complaining

One thing that irritates us all is traffic. We’ll get stuck in it, and then we’ll complain about it until we finally escape. Not Musk. Elon got annoyed with traffic and built a whole company to decongest our highways.

You don’t have to solve global issues, but try to focus on solutions in your day-to-day life.

Be Ready to Fail

You shouldn’t go into an endeavor with a negative mindset, but you should have a plan in place in case it goes south. For instance, Musk had every reason to believe his recent SpaceX launches would be successful. However, he acknowledged the risk and put precautions in place to ensure the crew’s safety.

Failure is embraced by Elon. In fact, here’s what he has to say about failure at SpaceX:

“Failure IS an option here. If you’re not failing, you’re not innovating enough.” 

Nurture Relationships

Any team consists of several cogs all turning gears to reach a common goal. You don’t look at the right, front tire of your car as it goes flat and say that you have three others, do you? No, you fix the tire.

Treating all the members of your team like a crucial part of your car ensures that the team functions smoothly.


Manage Resources for Effectiveness

If a resource isn’t directly impacting the quality of your work, it’s not helping you reach your true potential. Musk has his management teams scour global expense records to cut out anything that doesn’t better his product. This includes advertising.

Push Yourself

A lot of folks work their 9-5 and head home. They don’t work towards their own goals, develop a complex hobby, or even read because they’re tired. It’s crucial to push yourself past that common routine and constantly work towards your goals.

For reference, Elon works 100 hours a week on multiple endeavors. If he was slacking, he probably wouldn’t be as successful.

Finally, Do It Daily

All of these things have to be applied to our daily lives to create the results we crave. You have to commit to truly integrating these principles and thought processes into your daily routine to get anything out of the effort.

You’ll slip up sometimes, but it’s important to pick yourself up and keep trying if you want to experience success.

When you’re feeling as if all of this is a bit too much to handle, we’d like you to consider one last quote from Elon Musk himself.

“Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up.”

Please share this post with a smart friend or colleague that you care about. And don’t forget to sign up for our blog.

PS: A few posts that you might have missed:

The Coach
Coaching For Better Learning helps people and institutions build systems that lead to lasting improvement, growth, and success.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Yours Free

A Guide for understanding how systems affect your life and your joy.