Chaos—nobody likes it, nobody wants it. We try so hard to eliminate chaos from our lives. We organize our living space and workspace meticulously to “clear our heads.” We shuffle our children off to school with perfectly arranged backpacks and folders, then turn around and tidy their room so we don’t have to worry about a chaotic house on top of whatever chaos touches down at work.
Robert Richman, cultural strategist and Co-Creator of Zappos Insights, is here to tell us that chaos can be our friend. After helping Zappos grow 50 percent when they were acquired by Amazon, he developed a program to educate other companies on how Zappos held onto and grew a healthy company culture in the midst of accelerating growth.
Richman believes that chaos and growth go hand in hand, so instead of scrubbing and bleaching chaos out of our homes and shuffling chaos around our desks, we need to learn from it. He says that the only time you feel chaos is when you are submerged in it. The trick to understanding chaos and coping with it is to identify patterns. No matter how crazy and unpredictable a situation feels, there is a pattern to find within it.
The people who find the patterns are able to paradoxically control chaos, and therefore control change.
While this is much easier said than done, Richman has some hacks that will help you to change your mindset about chaos.
By creating chaos you are birthing change. The key to creating chaos is welcoming spontaneity. He likens this to being an Uber driver. When you invite random people or situations into your life, you are allowing an element of chaos into your space, but the experiences you gain will help you grow.
This can be awkward, but Richman says awkwardness is part of the process of wrangling chaos. By ‘winging it’ more often, you will definitely run into some uncomfortable situations. This discomfort is the chaos that will help you grow.
Wait…aren’t we suppose to create chaos? Yes, but only the good kind. Richman explains that while some chaos is productive, other aspects of it can drag you down. When you make a to-do list, what are the things you dread the most? Do those first. Once those are out of the way you free your mind of the burden of these tasks and open yourself up to more opportunities to create good chaos and change.
Surround yourself with the right people.
When you build a team of talented people around you who believe in each other and yourself, you eliminate a piece of could-be-chaos. The chaos of change is either amplified or diminished in our own minds. The biggest factor in stirring up a storm of chaos is self-doubt. It’s natural for all of us to waver in our confidence, but when you have a team of believers as a safety net, you won’t waiver for long. Richman believes, “It’s not so much believing in yourself, as much as those who believe in you.”
Jessica Welch is the Content Marketing Associate at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and Anthropology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Her business thought articles often appear on Business 2 Community, Born 2 Invest, and YF Entrepreneurs.