The Art of Chaos: How to Identify Opportunity

Chaos usually brings to mind a negative image for most of us. It used to for me. However, today, it makes me smile. Of course, that has a lot to do with how I interpret chaos. For me, chaos is freedom, and is related more to improvising along the path of life, which certainly can offer us challenges. How do we see these challenges? Do we see them from only one perspective and allow that to dictate our perceived lack of choices?  Here are some simple metaphors which have helped me see chaos as a positive and exciting state of mind and life.

Eye of the Hurricane

Quite often, when plans change, when expected circumstances change, and in general things are not what we expect, a form of mental chaos can be created by the emotional centers of our brain. Our timetable changes, expected positive responses change into questions we did not forsee. We can feel attacked and intimidated at times like this, and our confidence can begin to decrease. However, by embracing multiple perspectives, (which I address a great deal in many of my blogs), you can save the day and allow yourself to see this “chaos” as something else.

One perspective which has worked for me is visualizing myself in the eye of a hurricane. Simple enough, right? While the outer parts of any hurricane are violent and dangerous, the eye of the hurricane is calm. Be the calm in the storm.

The parts of this visualization that takes it from a simple visualization to a game changing shift of perspective is:

Not letting the hurricane (any storm/chaos in your life):

  • Define who you are
    • Define your emotional sense of self
    • Dictate your decision making
    • Diminish your expectations
  • Practicing making decisions from a calm sense of self during challenges.
  • Seeing the hurricane as a temporary state
  • Being the eye of the hurricane anywhere and anytime

In the Weeds

The term “in the weeds” is one which I have heard describe a chef, cook and/or team of cooks who are behind on making the food which has been ordered. They are so busy, that orders get backed up, frustration builds, teammates begin arguing, and teamwork can sometimes fall apart.

However, there is another option we can choose when we are “in the weeds” in any part of our life.  In order to engage this more helpful option, we first have to admit we’re in the weeds, followed by taking some sort of action (action cures fear).

The chaos experienced in the weeds is a monumental moment to embrace the opportunity to:

  • Affirm others in the heat of battle
  • Practice choosing a positive mindset while in tense circumstances
  • Shift from “I am” to “This is” (example: this is tense, instead of I am tense)

Avalanche of Sound

Sometimes there is so much information coming at us, we can begin to feel overwhelmed. Often, while in this state of mind, we attempt to:

  • Move faster
  • Do things faster
  • Control more variables

The best analogy I can think of is when I am conducting an orchestra or large scale musical. I have to communicate with the cast of actors/actresses, lead actors/actresses, and the orchestra, in addition to multiple styles of communication. This ranges from body language, to spoken words, to personalities styles, and more. In the past I used to try and “lead” more by doing more, much like the three bullet points above. What I found was that by:

  • showing less
  • doing less
  • Creating novel and “not-so-literal” invitations for others to engage
  • focusing on the essential components

...that what WAS an avalanche of sound, is now a clarity of multiple sound layers.

When you feel an avalanche of information coming at you, breathe deeply, stretch for a moment, invite others to step up, and identify the essential components of where your focus will be most effective.

Endgame

My wife and I love to dance salsa. We have our own style. We use the basic salsa dance step, but we have fun creating variations on where we put the emphasis. We dance with the dance form itself, and in doing so, we end up creating our own dance. There are moments where “chaos” can ensue, yet we not only find a way through it, we USE those moments of “Chaos” to create a new way to get from point A to point B.

The goal is not to get rid of chaos. That would lead to boredom, and would not lead to inspiration in any field. The goal is to:

Find ways to embrace the opportunities which chaos offers us

Get your dancing shoes on… and dance

Enrique

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