The Systems Mindset: Managing the Machinery of Your Life Book Cover

September 6th, 2023

Original publication date was May 3, 2016.

For free, the first four chapters of my book, The Systems Mindset: Managing the Machinery of Your Life are available for download.

The hard-cover version as well as Kindle and Audio versions are available on Amazon and through other regular book outlets.

If you have questions or comments, you can reach me at info@thesystemsmindset.com.

Following is the Preface and Table of Contents


I’ve written The Systems Mindset to convince you to take a more mechanical approach to controlling your day’s sights, sounds, and events. In making this transition and subsequently watching the physical aspects of your world dramatically improve, you’ll find that the softer, emotional life realms get better, too.

Much better.

I want to show you that we live in a mechanical world and remind you that physical reality operates in the same way, everywhere, all the time. From this, I’ll describe a simple life-posture, one that will enable you to improve every area of your life. Mindset is written to take you to this new place in your life.

And I am betting that through this different way of looking at your world, you’ll become amazed again…the way you were when you were a child.

An opaque veil will lift, making life vivid and understandable.

The genesis of The Systems Mindset stretches back to 2006, even before I began writing my business book, Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less, first published in 2008, now in its 4th edition. Work and Mindset share precisely the same thread, that you can take control of your life if you view the world as it really is, a collection of superbly efficient independent systems—rather than what it isn’t—a complex mass of discordant happenings.

In taking Work through the four editions, I found that what had been most important to me all along—this different vision of how the world mechanically functions—was indeed what was most important to my readers. So, with enthusiasm, I’ve written this explanation of the Systems Mindset without the business-book encumbrances of documentation and chessboard-strategy detail.

This guidebook is especially suited for anyone who has a job, is a student, is a parent, or is retired. And it’s for those who have very little, as well as for those born to wealth. Is it for business owners, too? Sure. It’s a good place to start, but later on you’ll find Work the System more targeted to your work.

Mindset is relatively short, slightly less than half the size of Work. It’s been easy to write because it’s forged on real-life applications and successes. And success hasn’t been mine alone, it’s been the outcome for hundreds of thousands of others who have adopted the Systems Mindset and who have been able to make their lives what they want them to be.

Yes, I believe these concepts utterly.

What is the overarching message of these pages? If I had to condense it to one sentence, I’d say that taking control of your life – and getting it to be the way you want it to be – is not a difficult thing to accomplish once the simple mechanics of life are grasped.

Unusual in the literary world, I have a special relationship with my publisher, Greenleaf Book Group, in which I’ve kept ownership of my manuscripts. While, with my approval, Greenleaf oversees the editing, design, and production, and gets my books into bookstores and other channels, I’m able to distribute them myself.

Yes, it’s about control.

The Systems Mindset has been in my head for a long time. It’s been superbly satisfying to finally write it.

—Sam Carpenter

Table of Contents

Part One: The Machinery

  1. Control Is What You Want
  2. The Frenetic Life
  3. Your Life Is a Collection of Separate Systems
  4. The Universal Formula for How Things Happen
  5. Go One Layer Deeper
  6. 99.9% of Everything Works Just Fine
  7. There’s Not That Much to Fix
  8. Emotions Follow Mechanics
  9. The Simplicity Thing
  10. Your Task is to Create Value
  11. Going with the Flow Will Ruin Your Life
  12. Begin at the Bottom of the V
  13. The Ubiquitous Misconception
  14. The Siren Call of Good, Right, and Fair
  15. Major in Majors
  16. Your Systems Mindset Analogy
  17. You Get to Keep Yourself
  18. Your Personal Attributes Don’t Matter That Much
  19. A Better You
  20. It’s a Very Good Thing to Have Lots of Money
  21. There’s a Miracle Happening at the Airport
  22. You’ll Never Go Back

Part Two: Managing the Machinery: Essays

  1. Dissection’s Your Name and Repair’s Your Game
  2. Semantics Matter: Coddle Your Machines
  3. We Are Not All One
  4. Clustering: Guilt Free and with a Calm Mind
  5. Automate Delegate Delete
  6. Texting Isn’t Enough
  7. Make Point of Sale an Obsession
  8. Prime Time
  9. Your Mind Can Be a Bad Neighborhood
  10. Deal Killers and the Main Machine
  11. Observing the Family System
  12. A Bull Rider’s Life
  13. The Fabric of Your Existence
  14. Choose the Red Pill