077 – Navigating and Leading Chaos

Lead the chaos

Whether we initiate the chaos or it spontaneously erupts, we’ve got to give leadership to the chaotic state of things. We’ve got to navigate through the chaos. Leaders sometimes lead through spontaneous chaos that just happened, and at other times, we actually initiate chaos to transition from our present reality to our desired future. In this week’s episode, David and Donna discuss when to initiate chaos and how to appropriate lead through chaos.

Continue Reading for Episode Notes…

Navigating and Leading Chaos

Last week, in episode 076 we discussed embracing chaos as a necessary part of transformation. The path to positive and redemptive transformation in our lives and organizations require a journey through chaos. 

Whether we initiate the chaos or it spontaneously erupts, we’ve got to give leadership to the chaotic state of things. We’ve got to navigate through the chaos. Leaders sometimes lead through spontaneous chaos that just happened, and at other times, we actually initiate chaos to transition from our present reality to our desired future. In this week’s episode, David and Donna discuss when to initiate chaos and how to appropriate lead through chaos. 

Creating Chaos

Last week we discussed the difference between spontaneous chaos, that which erupts with no help from us, and initiated or created chaos necessary for forward movement. Both bring transformation when redemptively initiated. 

Personally…

In our personal lives, the path we are presently walking feels, and in many ways is chaotic. The crazy thing is, we initiated the chaos. We resigned our positions and we are walking into the somewhat unknown. We have a God-inspired vision of our futures that was not possible in our current context. We had to “blow things up,” mash the clay into a lump and throw it on the potter’s wheel to be reshaped. 

Our motivation was what we believed to be God’s future impressed upon our passions and hearts. Our motivation was a desired future. We were willing to walk through the chaos to obtain the end result by faith. 

We did not create the chaos caused by the loss of our spouses and the forever reshaping of the lives of everyone in our families. It happened. We navigated the chaos with God’s help. But transformation emerged from the chaos. When you face spontaneous chaos, look for the redemption at the end of the tunnel. It is coming. 

Sometimes you have to create chaos before you can get the desired results. Last week we talked about organizing the garage and scattering tools all over the floor. It was chaos! It was a mess! But order and organization slowly emerged from the mess. In the same way, we’ve got to look at our attitudes, perceptions, beliefs, doctrine, relationships, and our heart with a willingness to be reshaped. Reshaping is chaotic because it involves the dismantling and disorganizing of what is, so that we do not build upon a faulty foundation, but on a solid and uncompromised foundation. 

Organizationally…

If you lead a stale organization, and you know greater things are possible and you want to see the things emerging in your heart and passions, then you may need to actually create some chaos. 

When I was leading my first church in my mid to later 20s, I reorganized the tiny foyer of the church. It was cluttered with old furniture, and I wanted a fresh, open, and simple feel when people, particularly new people, came into the building. I moved a little table that sat by the coat closet. The next Sunday morning, long-time attenders arrived, bible and Sunday School books in hand. When they went to take off their coats, the table where they would set their books while they took off their coats was gone. It was amazing that some of these mature folks could not figure out how to get their coats off without that little table. 

I had not intended to create chaos, but I had in a small way. At the time I had no idea how important those little changes to the foyer would become. It was the beginning of the unfreezing. Unknowingly, I had started thawing out a stuck church. Every change brought chaos, but we found new and higher levels of organization and forward movement through the chaos. 

I learned that I had to consistently create chaos in measured ways to lead the people I loved to their promise. 

Creating a bit of intentional and necessary chaos from time to time fosters the growth of a culture of change and transformation. 

The Azusa Street Revival, a turning point event in Christianity that occurred in the early 1900s, created chaos in the church world around the world. The Jesus Movement of the late 60s and early 70s coupled with the Charismatic Movement of the same time frame brought chaos to many churches. Yet, both of these occurrences and periods brought transformation and great growth to the Church and the Kingdom of God. 

As technology has expanded, disruption and chaos has come to commerce and the marketplace. In less than a generation, the way we conduct business and commerce has changed. Some giant corporations we thought were rock solid and forever, disappeared. Others had to change the way they operated. 

What about, “If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It?”

To create chaos for the sake of chaos, or change for the sake of change, or to seek to transform something that does not need transformation, is unnecessary and foolish; but, sometimes fear or blindness convinces us to stay the course. Growth and change are essential parts of life. 

What if it is broken, but you just don’t want to fix it? For years I tried to navigate problems by convincing myself they were not problems at all. Dysfunction got “frozen” into our lives. Thawing out frozen perceptions and attitudes creates chaos and conflict. 

Is dysfunction “frozen” into your life or organization because you will not face the chaos that even incremental changes will cause?

Through the years I dismantled things that were working because I believed they could work better. I could have left those things alone, but incrementally transformation came because of a willingness to create the chaos of disorganizing to reorganize. In a way, I continually dismantle my life, examine it, and put it back together. I look for ways I can be better, more Christlike. When I notice deficiencies, I start dismantling and re-engineering. 

When I notice that I’m holding too tightly to something, I have to think about my motives. When I notice an attitude within me that is less than what I would desire, I have to look at my foundation. 

For the record, most of the things in our lives are spot on. We are on the right path, we are headed in the right direction. Most of the things in our lives require holding the steering wheel steady and staying the course. But those things that need to change, those things begging transformation, are going to create chaos. 

Counting the Cost of Chaos

Should you dismantle or unfreeze in stages or all at once? Most of the time the answer is “in stages.” The question is, “Can you unfreeze in stages?” If the answer is “yes,” then you should do it orderly and in stages. Sometimes the only path to transformation is radical, but most of the time it is a steady and consistent path. 

If you can stage chaos sequentially that always feels better. If it is truly of greater transformational value to just dismantle something and dive in, the transformation will go faster, but with a higher chaos to result ratio. 

Leadership decisions are often evaluated by considering return on investment or ROI. If chaos is seen as an “investment” in the process, then is the created chaos worth the end result? Are you willing to pay the price the chaos is going to exact? It comes down to this: Is the end result worth the chaos? How will relationships be affected?

Calibration Tools… Calibrating Your Life and Lifting Those you Love and Lead

  • Consider the Chaos to Results Ratio. Is it worth it?
  • Consider the relational impact. People are important. How will the chaos generated through the transformational path affect the people involved. Is it worth it?
  • Consider buy-in. If people are going to experience chaos through the transformational path, they need to be prepared and have buy-in on the end results. The affected people need the opportunity to understand the “why” associated with the pain of change and chaos. 

Finally…

We do have a lot of good chaos in our lives right now. We’ve dismantled a lot of things to build new things. Be cautious of forsaking well worn paths, but with measured resolve, don’t be afraid to cut a new path. 

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