Thriving IN Chaos


Quite a number of years ago, management guru, Tom Peters, wrote a book entitled Thriving on Chaos. The thrust was how to navigate the whitewater of constant and ever-accelerating change in a way that brings innovation and greater success. It is a great read and still appropriate for today.

I’d like to take a different tack and discuss thriving in chaos. Never in my lifetime has a time been more appropriately described as chaotic. The institutions and beliefs that have served as our foundations have been shaken, some shattered. Truly Atlas has shrugged.

The US government and its agencies have become a joke—a den of thieves and political hacks. Anger, emotion, and pull have replaced debate, deliberation, and constitutional decision making.

Corporations and media (in particular) have exerted virtually unchecked power in decisions that impact society. It’s as if they are seeking to supplant government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

COVID-19 has reduced communities to places of isolation, fear, suspicion, and snitching. Businesses have been destroyed, families devastated.

How can we survive? Much less thrive? Here are several ideas that may help.

  1. Stop complaining. That changes nothing and only brings your heart lower.
  2. Embrace reality. That doesn’t mean accept it but we must face things as they truly are.
  3. Never give up. To quote Winston Churchill’s admonition to the British people in the darkest days of WWII, we can never quit.
  4. Pivot constantly. Stay on the balls of your business fee if you can. Keep moving, bobbing, weaving, anticipating.
  5. Turn off screens. TV news, Facebook, etc. have become toxic. I still enjoy a funny meme or a family picture but as a forum for meaningful discussion, media and social media have failed miserably.
  6. Return to personal relationships. Get out of your COVID cloister. Sit outside by the fire, on the porch with masks if you must but connect with people. Play games with your kids.
  7. Keep your business out of politics. This will only alienate people and ultimately turn on you. Be civil, open, empathetic but not political.

During the chaotic period of the Great Depression (1930-1942), there were more millionaires made than destroyed. When you keep your head, temper your reactions, step confidently but thoughtfully you may just find the path to success and impact you long for.

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