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Managing Chaos and Uncertainty

Updated on November 3, 2013
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Managing Chaos and Uncertainty

November 4, 2013

Winston Wayne Wilson

@wwaynewilson

Chaos and uncertainty are never the twins we want to see first thing in the morning when we wake up; however, despite our best efforts, they sometimes greet us when we least expect them. The world is increasingly becoming chaotic and uncertain. The global vibration from chaos and uncertainty reverberates in our country, jobs, clients, friends, families and, ultimately our daily lives. Despite the harsh impact that chaos and uncertainty can have on our lives, their blows neither have to knock us out of the game nor be fatalistic. When properly managed, we oftentimes become stronger and more refined by enduring the fiery intensity of chaos and uncertainty. Here are a few things to consider in managing chaos and uncertainty:

  1. Anticipate chaos and uncertainty. While we should not take a pessimistic posture on life, we should avoid being blindsided by chaos and uncertainty. We tend to be more shocked, as well as physically and emotionally damaged by chaos and uncertainty, when our expectations about life are centered on perfection and orderliness. The reality is that, on any given day, we can unexpectedly become gravely ill; lose our jobs, financial stability and relationship with our significant other; or find ourselves in the middle of a melodrama at work or home. When we anticipate chaos and uncertainty we assume that we might not have tomorrow or the people and things in our lives. As such, we go out and get insurance, create a will as well as set up contingency plans; we save aggressively and live within our means; we pay attention to what we say and do to ensure that we manage our relationships in ways that preserve rather than jeopardize them; and, instead of ever taking a single day for granted, we maximize our potential each day and tell our families and friends how much we love them and what they mean to us.
  2. Be ready to act, but don’t act too quickly. Hasty passion is like gasoline to fire when it comes to chaos and uncertainty. When our brains shut down our breathing becomes rapid and our emotions begin to flare. This is the worst time to attempt to handle chaos and uncertainty. Being ready to act without acting too quickly is a very delicate dance that emergency room doctors master. Emergency room doctors never start operating immediately without data. While they move with alacrity, their immediate goal is to gain an understanding of the patient’s situation before they decide on the most effective action to take. Unless we are being attacked by a bear, there is usually enough time for us to assess the situation. Oftentimes, being strategic in selecting the right solution is far more important than quickly attacking chaos and uncertainty without the right armor. We should always be prepared to do something but only act after we have made a proper assessment and we have equipped ourselves with the right tools to tackle chaos and uncertainty.
  3. Consult with others. Chaos and uncertainty should not be consumed alone. Oftentimes, we can make a bad situation worse because we fight a battle alone or we craft a solution based on our limited knowledge. When we consult with others, they might be able to provide insights into how we can best handle chaos and uncertainty with the least amount of interruption and damage to our lives. The key thing to remember with chaos and uncertainty is that, if we cannot immediately beat them, we should not join them. In other words, we should not let our emotions become as chaotic and uncertain as the situation that we are confronted with, while fighting alone. This skill requires that we are able to stay calm under intense pressure. When we remain calm and level headed, we increase our chances of finding a way to beat chaos and uncertainty later on – after we have been able to assess the situation and consult with others.
  4. Don’t be overcome by fear. Fear is a wasted emotion. When we are injured, or are in danger, fear will cause us to panic, which will suck up our ability to think creatively about how to escape or save ourselves. When we experience chaos and uncertainty (e.g. lose our jobs, a loved one, or suffer financial loss), fear will keep us bound and chained in a place where we cannot get past the questions “Why me?” and “Why now?” We must conserve our energy during chaos and uncertainty so that we can focus on how to survive. We should avoid assuming that we are being targeted by life. We are not. Chaos and uncertainty are part of the air that we all breathe during certain segments of our journeys in life. If we have faith and anchor our lives in the love and support of our friends and families then we will survive chaos and uncertainty.


My challenge for you is to ask yourself how prepared are you to face chaos and uncertainty without getting flustered and knocked out. If you are not confident that you can survive chaos and uncertainty, then you should begin to take the appropriate steps to embellish your life with the right people, insurance, savings, and skills to help you to not just sleep better at night but to also walk away unscathed from your eventual confrontation with chaos and uncertainty.

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