October 31, 2008
Right brain will steer you through chaos
Q: My company and job seem to be lurching from one unexpected crisis to the next. Usually I can predict problems and be proactive, but the world seems to be going crazy. How can I navigate through a workplace that is nothing but chaos?
A: Use your gut right now, not your head. The intellect can guide us well during rational times, but it's obvious to most of right now that we do not live in rational times.
Many scientists believe that the 20th-century science will be known for only three theories: relativity, quantum mechanics and chaos. Chaos theory was originally discovered by a meteorologist and has since been used in mathematics and science.
The simple version of the theory is that as systems evolve, they can appear to become totally chaotic. However, as scientists closely study the chaos they find there is a new order inherent in the chaos. The bottom line is that every system goes through perpetual cycles of order, chaos and new order.
We are leaving behind an old order where we could predict our economy, our industry and our workplace. Most people are feeling like the only thing that is predictable about their current job is unpredictability.
It appears that business is still going through the old-order-falling-apart stage, so the new order that will emerge is not easy to see right now. We can't prevent these cycles from occurring any more than we can control the weather. However, we can take comfort in knowing that existing systems always fall apart, the chaos hits a zenith, and then emerges into a new order.
Many social scientists believe that being capable of right-brain (intuitive) thinking is critical for everyone right now. They point out that left-brain (analytic) thinking works best during periods of predictable order, not our current chaos.
Try this exercise: Before you start your day, close your eyes, breathe deeply and imagine going through the day ahead. Keep breathing and notice ideas, feelings or impressions you get about how to deal with your workplace. When you open your eyes, jot down everything you can remember.
Now, implement the advice your right brain gave you. If your intuition suggested to give someone a call, do it. If your intuition whispered to meet with a client, do it. If your intuition has a creative plan for a new project, do it. Now evaluate your results.
You'll often find that whatever order is hidden during these chaotic times will be impossible to analyze but easy to intuit.
Consider this period of chaos impeccable training for all of us to develop our right brains in the left-brain world of business. People who seize the opportunity to become experts at right-brain knowing may thrive while people only using their left brains struggle to survive.
The last word(s)
Q: Is there any job these days where you have job security?
A: Yes, the job of being yourself. Any other job is short-term.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., is an executive coach, trainer, therapist, speaker and author. She can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube
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