Reactions to Chaos

Brown and Eisenhardt state that the most successful businesses compete on the edge, with a chaos approach to strategy, leadership and management, with just enough structure to keep things from flying apart.

But what about you? And what about me? And what about the people we share of lives with?

How do we react when times are chaotic? How do others react?

Why is it important to understand your response(s) to chaos?

Let me start with the last question.

Why is it important to understand your response?

It is most valuable to get a handle on what happens when things become chaotic.

When I think back to a period of 2017 when things were particularly messy in my life I reflected (again) on my responses to previous times of chaos. At that moment of reflection in 2017, I could see a pattern. I could see what I thought were my responses. With deeper reflection, I realised that what was my reaction to chaos was actually how I settled back into equilibrium – my normal pace.

So how do we respond to chaos?

Our thinking and understanding is the important thing about chaos. And finding the power of disequilibrium, the edge of chaos.

It is possibly not very useful for me to describe what really happens in my head and how I behave. But it is fundamental to get to the centre of how I respond and harness the power of these moments of chaos.

So what is your response?

It is ignoring? Panic? Fuzziness? Working harder? Reinforcing the rules or processes?

It is a tightening of your jaw muscles and pulling the control to you?

Or is it work harder and go faster?

Is it just get on with it?

Do you pause and think? Do you pause and think and not act?

For me, it is a moment of “oh s..t” and tunnel-vision. I can only see and react to what is directly in front of me and I become a bit machine-like. In times gone by I have also been known to “point the finger”. This is a very, very unhelpful response when in chaos.

When we know our responses we can then more clearly spend our brainpower not doing the automated response. This is the learnt response. And we ensure that our brain works for us in these moments of messiness.

Conscious response to chaos

So, how can we become conscious of our responses to chaos?

Ask yourself a few reflective questions.

Take yourself through a 4D reflection process and cross-reference this with someone who will have observed you during times of chaos.

Finally, successfully navigating our way through times of chaos is to redefine our understanding of your sense of equilibrium and our comfort level with disequilibrium.

To confront the chaos with a clear head, not a panicked brain.

Giving ourselves time to reset our thinking when we feel our innate responses to the chaos kicking in and review the situation. And see a way through. Because it is there.

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