Managing Chaos!

A few years ago businesses were experiencing massive restructuring, re-engineering, and redirection. Skills and tools were needed for response to the impacts, to help create rather than react.
But now we’re spinning faster, and the group change tools don’t always seem to work. Perhaps what’s needed is an actual chaos management strategy!
Whether it’s the Y2K dawn or the Sydney Olympics, your workplace or your personal relationships; whether you run large organisation, small business, tiny team or simply your own life – the tools you need now are for managing chaos.

1) Know the “I”
Start by considering hurricane, or cyclone. Utter chaos, causing great devastation.
Think of the centre. Calm, peaceful, quiet.
The eye. Think of it as yourself. You may not be able to stop or even control the wind and the noise around you. But you can retain your own centre. Find your strength, your capabilities, your power and your value, and stand quietly in your own ability to respond to each situation with courage and wisdom. We all have it. We just forget it sometimes when the winds of change are howling around us.

2) Know what matters
The first rule of success, and the one that supercedes all others, is to have energy. It’s important to know how to concentrate it and focus it on the important things, instead of frittering it away on trivia.
The most powerful thing you can do at any moment is re-focus. What do you want to achieve? Why is this important?

3) Nurture your network
No man is an island – nor woman either. We operate best when we’re interdependent. Not leaning, but supported.
It may be time to revalue family, re-assess social contacts, or re-energise team consciousness in the workplace.
One of the keys to managing chaos is the ability to tap into support facilities. Productivity almost invariably increases when we delegate, leverage and pull together.

4) Courage to tell the truth
Learn to tell it like it is. This may not be so for you, but for many people an enormous amount of time and energy is wasted in developing and maintaining the mask.
There’s no time any more to do that – have you noticed? It’s time for “impowerment” (my word for claiming your own power, rather than grabbing it from others).

5) Learn to live with less
It’s strange concept for many of us who’ve spent much of our working lives running after ?more’.
When life moves fast, the less baggage we have to carry the better. Travelling light – in many ways – becomes more effective. We’re discovering that simpler life can be lot less stressful. This isn’t suggestion not to decry wealth and its pleasures – just to eliminate the desperate struggle for it!

6) Rejoice regularly
There’s no evidence that life is serious.
A behavioural researcher visited kindergarten. “How many of you can sing,” he asked?
All hands went up.
“How many of you can paint?”
Again, all hands were proudly thrust in the air.
“And, how many can dance?”
“Me, me, me,” was the answer.
The researcher asked the same questions in university lecture hall.
“How many of you can sing?
Two hands.
“How many of you can paint?”
Not one hand.
“And how many can dance?”
Fingers were pointed at others, with comments and laughter. But not one claimed the ability.
What happened? Why did we forget, or decide our own self-expression was not good enough? It’s just about joyful release of stress hormones – good for the mind, the soul and the body.

7) Chose care over fear
There are only two fundamental emotions – love and fear.
Anything that isn’t one, is the other.
Until recently, we didn’t talk about this in the corporate arena. Now we know, tough love builds good teams and chaos is exacerbated by fear.
This isn’t about being soft and gooey – it’s about finding way to address issues head on with an intelligent mix of courage, commitment and compassion.
Chaos is inevitable. In the sense that perturbation is evolutionary, it’s also desirable. But managing it is essential. It’s no use for any of us to hope that someone else will do it. Do you have your own personal strategies in place?

Catherin Palin-Brinkworth can be reached

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