Many things in the life of a leader are uncontrollable and unpredictable. If handled incorrectly, this can lead to calamity. But if managed well, change, chaos, and creation can work together to create wonderful results.
A Story of Chaos
The British fuel-truck drivers announce their plans to go on strike. One of the ministers can’t prevent the knee jerk response and tells the public to start hording gas, just in case.
- A fuel shortage
- Rampage prices for a week
- Public fights
- People setting their house on fire with leaking jerry cans…
And the catch:
The anticipated strike, however, never takes place!
Not long after, I am driving to London when I turn on the radio. I hear politicians and economists fight each other over the best ways to control the recession.
I hear listeners phone in to blame the ‘leaders’ for their lack of foresight; they should have seen the chaos coming, they should have protected the civilians from this catastrophe.
Chaos, or even the prospect of it, seems to bring out the worst in people.
This happens both in our private micro-environment and also in our political-economic macro-environment.
For some reason, as human beings, we have learned that chaos should be prevented or avoided, in other words it should be controlled – preferably by the people ‘in charge’.
But how effective is it?
Another Story of Chaos
The Dutch government takes over private banks in trouble because ‘we have to take measures to stop further economic decline’. But soon after the country finds itself faced with a deficit that is too high for the European Union’s liking.
Severe cuts have to be made in order to remain a leading force on this international stage.
The leaders of the Dutch coalition parties go underground for seven weeks to come up with a strategic plan that will slay the Crisis-dragon. But they can’t come to an agreement and the coalition falls.
- The country has lost its government
- The stock exchange looses all trust
- And the economy takes another dip
And still we are convinced that we should do everything to control this crisis.
Nature at Work
In the mean time Life is laughing at the way we try to survive the quicksand by moving our legs and arms. It knows that there is an alternative available, because it sees how Nature copes with it. The winds of change always bring temporary chaos and Nature actually depends on it.
- No seasons without climate change
- No fertile soil without the debris of death to fertilize it
- No new growth without the uncontrollable quiet time of germination (i.e. creation.)
What if this was also true for business and politics?
Why wouldn’t we just settle with the natural flow of Change, Chaos, and Creation?
Change, Chaos & Creation
This is where innovative leadership can play a huge role. Rather than fighting the flow of Life, we could let ourselves and therefore others be inspired by this uncontrollable force that seems to prepare us for new creation.
Instead of cutting back, freezing our investment budgets, or pushing even harder for the same production strategy, a time of chaos invites us to something else.
It might allow us to review our individual and organizational values, to explore the available authentic qualities and the existing internal needs and wishes.
It could create an opportunity to expose any structure or system that is past its sell-by date.
It’s almost as if we are granted some time to let the ‘dead wood’ drift away to make way for new growth.
Your Catch 22
And here’s immediately the Catch 22: the minute we decide that we are comfortable with the idea of embracing chaos, our practical and result-focused mind wants to know how and take cognitive control once again. Of course, commercial people jump at this golden opportunity and develop ‘The Ten Techniques’ to cope with crisis and chaos.
There might even be some clever new age leadership academies, which will sell you a spiritual concept to guide you through these turbulent times.
They all tell you what to do and how to do it because other ‘experts’ have done so successfully.
If you want, you can accept these new strategies of control as the guiding force. It might work temporarily: the power of belief and intention is strong. Or you can trust the one sustainable truth of change itself: nothing is ever the same – no circumstance, no experience, no employee, no organization.
Every moment of Change, Chaos and Creation is therefore different. True inspiration – as the essential element to any leadership dynamic – is therefore always new, fresh and in line with the needs of the moment.
It’s uncontrollable and unpredictable.
And according to my ongoing professional experience, it’s terribly practical, focused, and efficient. Leadership that is courageous enough to incorporate Change, Chaos and Creation might become the best money ‘maker’ in times of the worst financial chaos.
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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders™
Arnold Timmerman is Author and Founder of Truth Unmlimited
He provides “Leadingship” training & coaching throughout all organizational levels
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