Purposeful Chaos | Leaning into the Process

Professional development Austin, MN

Innovation and learning often come first in the form of chaos.

When given time and intention, that chaordic experience can lead to order, emerge direction and inspire a new way of framing uncertainty.  -sandy anderson


Uncertainty and confusion can be uncomfortable and at times darn right scary.  Our initial reaction [habit] may be to dismiss, push back or walk away.  All with the hope that the discomfort and chaos might disappear.

We know how that typically works out.  Bigger, more complex, and a higher level of toxic impact that can ripple for years and generations beyond us.


“By hurrying to eliminate the dissonance of the “I don’t know” moment, it actually diminishes the effectiveness of the “aha moment” of discovery.”  -Jen Wilkins


I absolutely love this reminder from Jen’s book “Women of the Word.”  The gentle reminder of what we miss if we choose to eliminate the discomfort and dismiss the value of saying we don’t know.  We settle for the heavy voices.  Voices that nag our minds and souls whispering this isn’t going to play out well in the long run.   We always get to choose our next right step.  The step that leads through the discomfort to sustainable solutions and “aha moments” of discovery in a relationship, our churches, workplaces and areas of learning.

I have found so often that the innovation and learning that lead to discoveries, discoveries that equip me to face down a challenge, often come first in the form of what feels chaotic.  That sense of being out of control, confused on what my next step is and how to move forward.

What if that next challenge, inconvenience, problem that surfaces the dissonance, confusion or exhaustion is reframed as preparation for discovery?  Never dismissing the pain, impact, discomfort and weariness.  Acknowledging those experiences with compassion, then giving focus and energy to sitting back, to considering how they have purpose in emerging what we yet do not know or understand.

Sitting back as a team at work, a couple, with a trusted friend or professional to consider how these experiences and feelings may very well be part of what pushes us to be braver, to take a risk, to innovate, to face an issue we’ve been avoiding.  The nudges that actually are the chaordic opportunity to practice resiliency, to do hard things with greater grace and purpose.

Do you have a habit of avoiding conflict, discomfort or things you don’t understand or agree with?  Do you tend to take the path of least resistance?  The trek that often leads to the path of most regret?

Organizations, individuals, families, marriages, churches have faced loads of “preparation” the past twelve months.  The dissonance and sense of depletion from decision fatigue.  Negative perceptions and reactions to challenges for many were likely habits rooted in place before March 2020, that habit of thinking just caught up with us and emerged consequences with greater intensity.

We get to choose our next step.  We get to choose how we take thoughts captive and replace them.  We don’t have to do it alone.

Practice.  Practice rethinking the prompts of stress, chaos and confusion as preparation for learning and discovery to come.

Create space at home, work, church and your communities to welcome the exploration that offers us practice being a little more comfortable with what often comes before the “aha moments” and leads to potential and possibility not yet realized.


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