Chaos at Work? Welcome It


Sometimes things feel hard because they aren't moving fast enough, and we don't see our desires manifesting or feel we aren't getting the results we want at our job or in our business. And sometimes events move so fast, and we feel helpless to tell the direction they are moving in, that we get scared. We often label that chaos.

Chaos can appear at any level but can be most disconcerting when our work feels overwhelming, unmanageable, or is taking too much of our life energy. 

But what is chaos, really? In physics, it has been defined as: "Behavior so unpredictable as to appear random."  In the social sciences: "Chaos theory is the study of complex non-linear systems of social complexity. It is not about disorder, but rather is about very complicated systems of order." Another definition is: "Formless, primordial matter." Primordial means existing from the beginning of time. What these definitions tell us is that chaos is more powerful, deep, and mysterious than necessarily scary.

In fact, we can shift our perspective when we encounter chaos in our work lives and notice that we are lucky enough to be face to face with the great creative energy of the universe. The primordial substance is the unformed clay in which all possibilities lie hidden, waiting to be released. The definition of chaos from physics above points out that it only appears random, but there is a greater truth underneath.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche asked his father, a meditation master, why he believed "chaos should be regarded as very good news." "My father went on to explain that he was referring to chaos in the way that the Greeks had used the word — to indicate a wide-open expanse. Chaos is the great space of emptiness that occurs before genesis. It is the openness where things fall apart and new creations arise...This space provides an opportunity to reconnect with what lies under the chaos and negativity — inherent awakened nature." 

Once we can change our relationship to chaos, we touch something indestructible in ourselves, even if just that sense of our awakened nature, where we are in touch with powerful life forces we can't control. 

As a recovering control freak, I can actually find that comforting. At the point where we have a new relationship to chaos, we can release an intention into the creative substance and use the energy to create something wonderful from what might have appeared random and cruel.

To practice rethinking chaos:

  • If something feels like it is falling apart or spinning too fast or out of your control at work, let it keep going for awhile. See what happens with no input from you in the situation. 
  • Don't initiate anything in the midst of what feels like chaos, only respond to anything that falls in your lap, needing your particular attention. Notice what happens when you respond.
  • When you are not judging the situation as "good" or "bad," release an intention into the new space that has been created. An intention is something that you want to create that is in alignment with your or your organization's or business's values and principles. 
  • Nurture your intention with actions that support it, and don't worry when things start looking like a massive void again because they will again at some point, and it will lead to something new.


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