November: Creating from Chaos
- POSTED ON NOVEMBER 20, 2023
When last I wrote to you, I shared my thoughts on how we were embarking on a season of change. And given the global events of the past month and a half, that may have been the understatement of the century.
In fact, I might replace “change” with another C word — chaos.
Chaos is an interesting term. It has origins in Ancient Greek, representing the formless, shapeless void that occupies existence before Cosmos — the ordered universe — takes over.
In modern times, chaos has become more of a synonym for VUCA — an acronym coined by Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus in 1985 to try and explain the changing conditions in our world.
If you’re not familiar with the term, VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. And the higher each of these conditions is in a given context, the higher the overall VUCA (and the more chaos felt in that situation).
If you’re like me, you might find yourself nodding your head and saying, “That certainly describes my experience of living in our world today!” Working world? VUCA. Global conflicts? VUCA. Interpersonal family dynamics? VUCA.
OK — maybe that last one was just me.
Either way, whether you ascribe to VUCA or its spiritual descendants BANI (Brittle, Anxious, Non-Linear, and Incomprehensible), RUPT (Rapid, Unpredictable, Paradoxical, and Tangled) or even TUNA (yes, I said TUNA — Turbulent, Uncertain, Novel, and Ambiguous), it certainly feels like we are all staring in the formless, shapeless void of Chaos in our everyday work and world.
I know it might feel like the only available response right now is to impose order through sheer will as you shape Chaos into Cosmos. Bear down and fight like hell. Stand firm in your convictions. Change the underinformed perspective of your family member on social media through the proven technique of persistent posting. (Again, maybe just me.)
But I want to offer that there is another possible response to chaos. The author Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls it being “antifragile.” In his book of the same name, Taleb illustrates the potential pitfalls of resilience — by definition, it necessitates we stand firm and unchanging in a changing world. Resilience is being able to plant your feet and hold your ground regardless of the gale force winds that assail you. Resilience says, “I’ve got this — no matter what.”
Antifragility treats the chaos as an opportunity to learn and grow, all while ensuring we do what is necessary to prevent breaking or fracturing (hence “antifragile”). Antifragility says, “It’s okay if I fall apart today. I know this won’t break me — I commit to growing from this.”
In many ways, choosing Antifragility is choosing to embrace the concept we at CTI call Create From. Create From is a concept from our Leadership Program that is perhaps more complex than one might be able to distill in a blog post — but indulge me while I try.
Create From requires us to take full inventory of our present reality — as we ask in Process, “What’s Here Now?” — and work from it. It is a conscious choice to alchemize the unfolding of our lives into something greater than the requisite parts.
Create From requires that we acknowledge the complexity of the myriad of relationships in our lives — relationships with ourselves, with others, and with the broader systems we operate within — and collaborate with these relationships as co-leaders to build.
Create From is different than create with. When we create with, we stand beside the relationships in our lives and say “you do your thing and I’ll do mine” but Create From means “I can’t build this without you” and “my relationships are my co-creator".
Create From asks that we work with the context of our lives as a co-leader to build something greater than we could screaming alone into the formless, shapeless void.
See what I did there? Chaos, connection, Cosmos. What would it be like if you could Create From chaos, What becomes possible for you if you embrace being Antifragile?
Bring on the VUCA, the TUNA, and everything in between. We’ve got this.
If you liked this blog and are keen to learn more about creating from chaos, join our free webinar Grow Your Capacity to Lead Through Chaos on November 30.