Systematic Thinking: A Thought Model

Preface


During my lunch break today, I suddenly recalled an article I previously wrote, "How to Become a Quick Learner?"


I then realized that conceptual learners are essentially systematic thinkers. They start by considering and understanding things from a macro perspective. When it comes to learning specific knowledge, it becomes easier to grasp and they tend to have more perseverance. This is because they can see the end goal from a holistic view and are less likely to get lost in the details of the present.


I remember that before my graduate studies, my learning method was cramming: whatever the teacher taught, I learned. Most of the time, it was rote memorization without understanding, which worked well for exams. I used this method to pass the Japanese proficiency test in a short time. However, the side effects were obvious: developing an aversion to learning, retaining information poorly, and having an unstable foundation, among others.


But during my graduate studies, my mentor never gave me the so-called correct answers (which initially made me very uncomfortable and anxious). Instead, he constantly posed "why" questions to inspire me to think and understand problems. For example, he would have me consider the whole picture before proceeding with specific operations.


A few years into my career, I realized that my mentor not only helped me regain my curiosity but also taught me how to use systematic thinking to discover and solve problems.


Here are some of my thoughts on systematic thinking:


Systematic Questioning


When we ask questions without systematic thinking, the answers we get can be broad and unsatisfactory. This also applies to asking questions to GPT.


For example, "How should children be educated?" or "How should a cold email be written?"


I believe that if we approach questioning from a systematic perspective, letting the respondent understand your overall situation first, they can provide more targeted answers.


For instance, "Our child is xxx, has a personality of xxx, tends to xxx in usual situations," etc.


Of course, if the respondent is adept and knows how to guide, good answers can still be obtained.


Systematic Macro Construction of Life


If we consider our life as a system, it becomes easier to avoid confusion and doubt. Think about what kind of person you want to become and what kind of life you want to lead. Then, consider what stage you are currently at within the whole system.


For example, I want to live a high-quality life. My understanding of a high-quality life isn't to work hard now, sacrificing things I don't want to give up, to gain external achievements in the future—this is a potential life.


Rather, for me, it’s about how to spend each day in high quality, having high experiential moments. These countless high-quality moments then converge into my macro, high-quality life—this is a realistic life.


Systematic Development


In work, such as managing a website and writing cold emails, systematic thinking can also be applied.


For instance, if the ultimate goal of a cold email is to get a response, i.e., to improve the reply rate, we shouldn’t just focus on how to write a good subject line but understand and optimize the entire system.


This system involves the process from writing the cold email to receiving a reply:


1. Writing a good email

2. Sending the email to the recipient

3. Ensuring the email reaches the recipient's inbox

4. Recipient opens the email

5. Recipient reads the email

6. Recipient replies to the email


By optimizing and improving each step from 1 to 6, such as increasing deliverability, open rates, reading rates, and reply rates, we can enhance the overall effectiveness of the system.

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