Chaos vs. Disorder
Chaos vs. Disorder
If you’ve ever peeked into a teenager’s room, you probably believe you have a pretty good understanding of Chaos. Actually, you’ve witnessed a perfect example of disorder rather than chaos. The very fact that you recognized it as a mess, demonstrates that an alternate state of order exists.
We live in an ordered universe. The reason you can read this type is that it follows an ordered system where the letters mean the same thing every time they’re written. Scientific understanding is only possible because the laws of nature are consistent, and orderly.
Disorder, on the other hand, still happens within an ordered system — like our universe or our human brain — because we introduced flaws to the ordered environment we inhabit. Or perhaps the flaw inhabits us. (chicken/egg?)
I once had a good friend I’d known since grade school. Failed relationships and lost opportunities led him into drug addiction and a downward spiral. My previously rational friend eventually became a recluse and a hoarder. His rescue came when he began seeing a hard-headed woman whom we’d both known since those grade school days.
She recognized the disorder in his life but could see down the road to what things might be like if order were restored. She was determined. She was a gift from God.
I had the privilege of being only the second person my friend invited into his home after thirty years of dysfunctional living — our mutual lady-friend being the first and paving the way for me to visit. The entire house was filthy and filled with four-foot-deep stacks of miscellaneous junk.
After some negotiating, my friend allowed a group of men from Spring Creek Church to spend a Saturday clearing out his home. Twenty volunteers spent a 12-hour day digging and hauling — filling a 40-yard dumpster with thirty years of disorder.
When we began that morning, I had a vision of what restored order would look like at the end of the day, but like any experienced remodeler (or psychoanalyst) will tell you, the real damage is usually out of site, just waiting to be discovered. The cleared-out house revealed an electrical system with only 50% function and completely non-functional plumbing as well as dangerously rotted floors.
Legally, the house should have been condemned, leaving my friend homeless. The enormity of the situation discouraged most of the volunteers to the point that only four of us came back the following Saturday. Then, the miracles began to happen!
The City of Garland allowed my old friend to remain in his home while we spent the next fifty Saturdays patching water pipes and replacing rotted flooring. James McKee with GISD, brought his electrical trades class to totally rewire the home. Generous donors paid my friend’s twenty-year past-due utility bills so we could get water and gas services restored.
My friend and I shared the greatest experience I’ve ever known on a cold January evening as we nursed his decrepit water heater back to life. When the flame lit up on that gas burner, my half-crippled friend began dancing and whooping like he was ten years old again. He said that was the first time he’d had hot water in over twenty years. We both laughed until we cried.
The Moral of the Story
So, what happened that caused the majority of the volunteers to lose heart? What kept the die-hards coming back every Saturday? What convinced an otherwise rules-driven department within the city to bend their own rules to the point of breaking?
Vision. Some people mistook disorder for chaos. They couldn’t see the path back to order through all that disorder, so they threw in the towel. Others could see clearly that restored order was achievable. Those stubbornly positive individuals with a vision for success are the greatest human beings I’ve ever had the honor of calling my “friends”.
Over the past forty-five years, I’ve worked for a diverse group of clients, ranging from entrepreneurial start-ups to mega-corporations to non-profits. The giant chasm dividing the successful organizations from those who fell by the wayside, has always been people with vision. Having employees and/or mentors capable of keeping their eyes on the order which can be achieved without being discouraged by temporary disorder is the single most-valuable asset I’ve ever witnessed.
And it sure doesn’t hurt when those players know the author of all order.
So, where are you gonna start restoring order today?
If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.
― Steve Jobs
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The Five Most Important Questions
— Peter Drucker
I know I recommended this book a few weeks ago, but then, I read it again and it got even better the second time. Regardless of your organization’s type or size (even if you work alone) this book offers some incredible insights.