Chapter 24

Semantics Matter: Making Your Machines Visible


Your real-time vocabulary matters.

Choose the right words—what you say overtly and what you say in your head—to keep yourself on track.

Because a work, health, or relationship system can’t be physically touched doesn’t mean it’s not there. But this system invisibility is why people don’t pay attention to their systems!

The Systems Mindset will be your second-nature ability to observe the individual visible and invisible processes that make up your life; it’s the art of getting outside yourself to look down on your world. To get outside and slightly elevated in order to effectively apply the Systems Mindset Methodology to immaterial processes, it’s useful to use words and phrases that will make an intangible system seem physical, to posture them as physical entities that can be seen and touched.

For me, visualizing a system as a machine located in a basement evokes physicality. Here are some other terms I use: cardiovascular system, customer service system, and eating system.

Use the same tactic for your own Systems Mindset presence: Give your new protocols catchy descriptors that quickly jump to mind so you are reminded of your trajectory and goals. For instance, I use the word “coddle” to describe how I manage my machines, because the word suggests tender care for something precious. The word is always in my head, and it keeps me on track. And “outside and slightly elevated” is a phrase that is always front and center. “Point of Sale” is another good term, and I often repeat it out loud in front of my staff or friends when, because of it, I pause a conversation to take immediate action (often with the EVM function on my smartphone).*

Go back to the glossary at the end of the introduction and take a few minutes to review the definitions. Reading through the entries will be a refresher of fundamental Systems Mindset verbiage and protocol.

*For more information about EVM, go to


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