In every system there is an input and there is an output.
We are always experiencing an outcome. Our lives are an outcome of all previous action. And we even experience the result of actions that took place before we were even born. These actions or INPUTS are creating the present NOW. Now is an OUTCOME of all previous inputs. Otherwise known simply as the law of cause and effect.
Simple enough so far right?
So a Controllable Input Goal or (CIG) is an input goal you have 100% control over. For example investing 2 hours on a project. Or investing $100 on promoting something. You control this input. And from this investment you will realize an outcome. It may or may not be what you want, but in some way this outcome is measurable.
A Measurable Outcome Goal (MOG) is something you want to experience on some time horizon in the future, that you influence by what you do today. You may not control a MOG, but you CAN control what you input.. and in so doing, you can predict their probability of a Measurable Outcome Goal (MOG) on some level.
EXAMPLES OF CIGs AND A MOGs
A Measurable Outcome is something like the value of a company in the form of its stock price. Nobody really has direct control over a stock price. But a Controlled Input is how a company reduces their expenses, or the # of defects in production, or increasing their promotion with a specific budget.
Basically Controlled Inputs are what go into a system and Measurable Outcomes are what come, well, you guessed it, Out! So a CIG is an actual goal you have complete control over, like the # of hours you’ll invest into something. And a MOG is an outcome you don’t really have control over but you’d like to try to influence with the right CIGs.
CONTROLLING YOUR DESTINY
Controlling an input like time, energy, money going into something — is the investment that you control 100%. With the right strategy and the right input, you can realize just about any outcome.
We don’t really ever control outcomes.. they just happen.
And for most of my life I would emphasize the outcome .. hoping, dreaming, wishing and trying for certain things to happen. Creating a vision board. Writing down my goals. The measurable outcomes can be exciting and attractive. Whereas the controlled inputs can feel, how should we say, a lot less sexy.
That’s probably why I didn’t focus on them. And my outcomes were less than I had hoped. So I would hope again, dream again, plan again, but not really focus as much on what I needed to put into the system, to get out what I wanted. Couldn’t I just dream big – wouldn’t that be enough?
By focusing on the CIGs and aligning them with the MOGs, we can increase the probability of creating our ideal future and feeling very empowered along the way.
FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH JEFF BEZOS:
I got this clarity after watching an interview with Jeff Bezos recently.
He spoke of working backwards to achieve outcomes. While many books on goals speak of working backwards to reveal the steps you need to take a plan, what was unique in his approach was tackling Controlled Inputs, rather than focusing on the Measurable Outcomes.
For example rather than focus on stock price, focus on the things that effect stock price such as free cash flow and return on invested capital.
Then work backwards from there – what effects free cash flow? The reduction of expenses.
And what effects the reduction of expenses? In Amazon’s case its the reduction of defects in their warehouse / logistics process. For your business it might be different.
I went even further than what he explained in his interview, realizing that if you keep working backwards, eventually you get to the point of your most leveraged and controllable input which is YOU!
And at the root of YOU is your very thoughts and your model of the world. And behind that is simply your life force energy, your conscious awareness. You can see how meditation absolutely has implications in the real world all the way to the measurable outcomes that you see in business or in material success. The ability to zoom out and detach from these outcomes is precisely what you need to think more rationally about the flow from controlled input to measurable outcomes.
WHY FOCUSING ON CONTROLLED INPUTS WORK
Rather than focusing on external goals that you have no control over and you can only guess what to do to make them a reality.. you focus on the things you do control. Focusing on what you control, even though it may not be as sexy as the vision or outcome you have in mind – is at least within your control. This is in fact very empowering. And the most powerful indicator of future success.
MUCH LONGER TIMELINES
The other major thing I realized from the interview is that Amazon is thinking on a much longer timeline. He said that the results they experience in a quarter are not from actions within the quarter itself but from the planning and executing they did YEARS prior. And that although you can make some tweaks to performance within the quarter itself, that’s like eating your seeds before they bear fruit.
It’s better to have the patience and planning to think LONG TERM and realize that the performance you are having this quarter is really just the result of actions you started taking years ago.
Not everything has this kind of LAG TIME, but it’s very useful to think in terms of ‘lag’ so that you don’t get tempted to jump from one thing to the next when you aren’t seeing results right away. Some things simply require putting in the time so you better enjoy it.
MAKE YOUR CONTROLLED INPUTS INTO A GAME
And because we might want to see feedback right away, I suggest first identifying the inputs you feel will give you the highest chance for success. And next, turn doing them into a game. This is where a habit tracker or using something like the ‘chipits’ system I developed comes in handy. See my earlier post on this.
Basically when you track the things you can control.. you get a sense of immediate feedback or PROGRESS. And even if you’re not seeing the more ideal outcomes right away, you are at least seeing immediate feedback for your efforts. This feedback will help reinforce the actions that will ultimately lead to the outcomes you dream of– that could possibly take years from now.
How else are you going to stay focused and on the right path unless you start experiencing immediate feedback?
Take a moment now and reflect on at least one outcome you’d like to experience in the next few weeks or months. What input could you control daily that would significantly increase the chances of you experiencing that outcome? Write this down and commit to practicing it and test out this little thought experiment. You might be overjoyed with the result!
James Sunheart is a student of personal development and spiritual growth. He is passionate about optimizing people, systems and life. He’s written 7 books. Interviewed hundreds of experts. Given a TED Talk in France. Lives in Costa Rica while developing a sustainable eco-village. For opportunities email: James AT FullPotential.com