Don't Ignore The Chaos, Embrace It
A challenging week, stressful, but with several steps forward both personally and professionally. My daughter made it to school on time all five days and I made it to the yoga mat twice, once productively! I reduced my work emails by 1500 (still have 3400 to go), my personal emails by 400 (still over 700 to go), and deleted over 300 photos from my phone (let’s not discuss it). I reached out to half a dozen folks I’d lost touch with or failed to get back to in the last couple of months. I reduced my screen time by 46% over last week, cleaned out the cabinet under my bathroom sink, and we inched forward on a couple of very critical projects at work. View this from 30,000 feet and it barely looks like a snail’s pace but trust me, from the ground, I call this forward progress.
Now it’s Sunday morning. An early workout complete, and I am at a new (for me) coffee shop, sipping a latte while looking out at a blearily grey sky. Thinking about the week past, and the week ahead. Truth be told, last week felt more than a bit chaotic both personally and professionally. I know because I used the word more than once. As I look out on the horizon at the looming storm clouds, the week ahead feels like the same forecast.
I’ve been advised by some lately to “ignore the chaos” and instead focus on the goal, the main objective. Drown out the noise that doesn’t matter, personally or professionally. I will admit, that sounds logical. Romantic even. Ignore what is stirring around you and keep your eyes on the prize. Focus. Ignore the words and actions around you that are often misguided and misunderstood. Don’t pay attention to them lest they slow you down.
However, I think I have come to realize that within the chaos often times lies the truth and potential solutions. Ultimately even, the pathway to success. Perhaps then, it is a far more productive to embrace the chaos. Take the time to understand where the noise is coming from and what is causing it. Is it truly a fear of change, fear of the unknown? Maybe it is caused by different people or groups working on the same problem separate from others doing the same thing, but relying on different information or a different perspective. Or, perhaps it that lone voice, up on the watch tower screaming “ICEBERG, DEAD AHEAD!”
Embracing the chaos, recognizing that it exists, may give you the opportunity to parse through what truly is real and what is noise. Stop and listen not only to what is being said around you, but also at what you are saying and more importantly, how it is being heard. Will a bit more clarification, reassurance, and communication may be the answer to calming fears? Could bringing together and bridging disparate teams collaboratively yield better answers and results? Maybe by filtering through the chaos, you may find an answer that hasn’t been considered, or even that potential iceberg that is coming within view, with enough time to steer clear of it.
If embracing the chaos is the answer, it is a classic case of, as a former boss used to say, “says easy, does hard.” To embrace the chaos, you first need to embrace sacrifice, vulnerability, and trust. You have to sacrifice a bit of control. Let others have input, even if you disagree with them. Run with potential answers and not try to control every detail yourself. Solutions may be found through this process that you hadn’t considered. Letting others charge forward, you can view through the chaos to see if they are connecting the dots or failing to connect with others that could help drive better results. You have to be vulnerable, truly knowing and accepting that what you believe to be the right answer may in fact be flawed, or even wrong. And most importantly, you have to be honest with yourself and others and trust that they are as invested as you are. Yes, you can own the problem and be charged with the solution but solutions driving by a single person, team or point of view often fail to result in success. Though I am always reminded that the mule was a horse designed by committee, so those involved need to be key stakeholders.
At least, this is something to think about as I finish my latte.
As for right now? There is a slight drizzle that has started to fall and there is a beach with my name on it. The rain keeps most people away, while for me it is cleansing.
Hope your day is meaningful!
(you can follow me @rhoniball or connect with me at www.honiball.me)