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  • Writer's pictureJeff Tu

Create Systems that Multiply your Growth

In the pursuit of being the best version of myself, I came across a book called "The Checklist Manifesto" by Dr. Atul Gawande, which changes my game in every aspect of life.

Dr. Gawande pointed out that even the expert of the experts in medical, aviation, and civil engineering fields can be prone to mistakes as our world and tasks to be performed are getting more complex and unpredictable.

Here is an excerpt of Dr. Gawande's illustration about a doctor's daily struggle:

[Y]ou have a desperately sick patient and in order to have a chance of saving him you have to get the knowledge right and then you have to make sure that the 178 daily tasks that follow are done correctly—despite some monitor’s alarm going off for God knows what reason, despite the patient in the next bed crashing, despite a nurse poking his head around the curtain to ask whether someone could help “get this lady’s chest open.” There is complexity upon complexity. And even specialization has begun to seem inadequate. So what do you do?

However, a simple device called "Checklist" has statistically proven to improve the quality of the result and drastically reduce errors in nearly all disciplines.

In 18 months, the checklist saved an estimated 175 million dollars and 1500 lives.

This is how it works -- Each checklist was created for a specific complex task, like performing a heart open heart surgery or landing a plane when the engine was not working. The lists are not a step-by-step manual to perform the mission but a reminder of critical steps that were [agreed upon by subject matter professionals and] proven to be forgotten easily. It provides a safety net for our minds, especially when under high pressures and unexpected situations to avoid unnecessary failures.

In fact, we can borrow the concept to create systems for our personal growth journey.

Let's say I want to be a better investor, I can create a checklist to catch my emotional and mental weaknesses. For instance, if I tend to trust the voice of an authority figure too easily, I might create an item: "Check multiple sources of information before making a [investing] decision."

To create your checklist, find a clear objective you care about and ask yourself:

  1. What are some recurring patterns that are blocking my growth in this area?

  2. What are some key elements that I need to do in order to succeed in this area?

We can borrow others' checklists but you should tailor it for yourself because we are all wired differently so what works for me might not work for you.

The goal is not to religiously follow the checklist, but to create an environment and system to improve your effectiveness and efficiency in tackling any tasks, goals, or missions you are on.

Review your checklist regularly, experiment with different ideas as you become more self-aware. Over time, add and remove items on the list according to your needs.

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right is a fascinating read about an interesting subject by an amazing writer. Check it out.

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