Are you imposing systems (processes/workflows) on your business? You are if following that system feels like hard work, unintuitive or unnatural. It can happen when you are trying to implement a “proven” system that’s misaligned with how you work or your values. 

Don’t get me wrong, “proven” systems are not always bad. Some of them can indeed save you months of testing and fine-tuning things. 

I suggest that before you turn your attention to a systems-in-a-box solution, you should discover and formalize the systems that you have naturally formed in your business as a result of your own inclinations and values. 

The best systems come from within.

Let me tell you a story of how I realized that imposing systems on others doesn’t work.

I learned that lesson at a very early age. I was about 8 years old the day I decided to help my grandfather organize his workroom. 

He was a metalsmith and he had coiled rolls of metal wires scattered all over the area where he worked—different sizes, different metals, different textures…

All that mess had been bugging me for months! So, one morning I decided to take matters into my own hands. Several hours later, absolutely exhausted, I marveled at my work.  

All of the wire rolls were stacked neatly on the shelves of my grandpa’s workroom by size.  The room looked bigger and so much neater!!  

Bursting with joy and pride I ran out to get my grandfather. I knew he wouldn’t have words to express his gratitude. And I was right, he was speechless. But not for the reasons I thought. 

It looked like he was in a state of light shock. Still hoping that his silence was a good sign, I pulled at his arm and asked what he thought. 

The only thing he could say was: “This is nice, but now I won’t be able to find what I need!” 

What I took for complete chaos was a system—the coil rolls that he was using regularly were on his work table; the rolls that he rarely used were stacked away; the rolls that he was going to exchange for other ones, stood (or USED to stand) on the floor.  

Turns out I had messed up his whole system. And my grandfather had to spend the rest of the day returning the coil rolls to their original, proper places.

I learned a valuable lesson then, that our best systems come from within.  

The key is not the system, the key is trust. You can have a system that doesn’t make sense to others. A system that looks nothing like any of those “proven systems.” But if you can trust it to support your work, you’ve got what you need.

So, don’t follow other people’s systems if they don’t feel right. 

Build systems around how you work. 

Build systems that support your values. 

Build systems that create experiences that reflect what you stand for. 

You can’t go wrong if you do that.