I have really begun to appreciate the power of chaos over the last few years. Particularly in a world where everyone is so drawn to structure.
Structure is great for keeping things as they are. It is even great for getting you to a specific place, but it is terrible for facilitating change.
Most of us have spent years building strong structures. Careers, Businesses, Marriages. That is not a bad thing. It keeps us safe and secure and structures are awesome for building more structures on.
The problem comes when you want to change direction. That is when structure gets in the way.
People tend to think that “all I have to do is change direction”. It doesn’t work like that though. You can’t. Your structures were designed to keep you going in your current direction.
That is when it helps to be able to be with chaos. Chaos is awesome for facilitating change. Awesome for creating a space for growth.
In chaos there is space to create anything.
Here are 5 reasons why chaos is better than structure.
1. Whatever structures you are creating today are not going to cut it for what you want to create tomorrow.
The perfect example is a relationship. Getting into a relationship seems like a really great idea. You have someone to spend your time with, go to parties with, have sex with, it all seems perfect. Until 6 months later when you realize that you have to tell your partner where you are going all the time, have to go and see movies that you don’t want to see and by this time what you really want to do is have sex with your neighbour. At this point your relationship becomes a serious constraint. Lifetime partners is a strange concept. I’m surprised it ever caught on. A few weeks ago I came across a new phrase called Relationship Anarchy. I like the idea of it.. It seems chaotic but… interesting.
2. The less structure the more space for passion, play, risk and adventure.
Structure by definition is there to reduce risk. To have things happen a particular way. The problem is, although at times I hide in safe places, I secretly love risk. I love not knowing what is going to happen. The more unknown there is, the more alive I feel. I want adventure, passion and play. If life is meant to be an experience, structure seriously gets in the way of the quality of my experience. Less structure is more chaotic but… enlivening.
3. Structure gets in the way of growth.
This is the main reason I have never had a job for more than 18 months. By definition, if someone gives me a job then there is a good chance that they think the job is something I can already do. Otherwise they wouldn’t give me a job. The problem is that within 3 months I will have expanded past the capacity that the job requires and then the job will start to limit my growth. By 6 months I will be bored and frustrated. The next 6 months I will cause trouble and then by 12 months I need to leave to find another. In contrast, being self-employed (and/or consulting) is chaotic. You never know where your next job is going to come from (if it is going to come) and you never know if you can really deliver until you have delivered.
On the upside you can cause the role to grow with you. Chaotic but… growth fuelling.
4. Structure is what leads to overwhelm.
I have realised that the more structured my life is, the more I feel overwhelmed. Overwhelm is basically when your structures are not capable of handling all the things that are happening. I really started to get this recently while trying to use Evernote. Basically the idea of Evernote is that you can store everything you need in life in one place. I have tried to use evernote about 20 times and failed. Each time I tried I spent about 2 weeks trying to create folders to manage all the information I put in there. At some point I would confront that I couldn’t create folders to manage everything and then I would give up. A couple of weeks ago I had a breakthrough. I gave up trying to organize it. I stuck everything in one folder and now just use tags. The breakthrough was to give up trying to create a structure to manage everything. Chaotic but… freeing.
5. Things are just changing fast.
The world is moving so quickly that trying to create systems to control what is going on is never going to work. By the time you have created the system it is out of date. You then need to change direction but find you have structures set up to keep you heading in your current direction. This happens a lot in business. It doesn’t cut it any more though. You now have to be able to be in chaos. You have to be OK with not knowing where things are going and to be able to ride the current wave. Chaotic but… dynamic.
In a nutshell, chaos gets a bad rap and is seriously underrated. The days of having life well managed are no longer going to cut it. You will get left behind.
What works in today’s world is structures that manage the existence of chaos, not structures to avoid chaos.
This is what is going to determine your capacity for performance.