Step one: appreciate the chaos

Step two: wait to see what emerges next…

Most of my life I have spent energy trying to bring order to chaos. Doing things like recoding data to make it cleaner, trying to implement data governance to improve the data coding in the first place, improving a business process to make it more streamlined, or creating the “right” statistical model to predict what might happen next. When I manage to achieve it, it gives me great satisfaction. I even have it posted in my LinkedIn profile summary. A few years back, I met someone who learned I was a “data person” (his words), and he said, “you must like bringing order to chaos. That’s what data people do…,” and he was so right. But lately, I have started to wonder about this goal of making things orderly. I notice that it is rarely possible. And even when I manage to accomplish some sense of order in the data, or a business process, or some insight from data that brings a sense of peace and understanding…   the next day it is gone. Just like when I wash the dishes at home. At least with the dishes, there is a guaranteed sense of order once the job is done.

I have also noticed that there is beauty in chaos. That if I come to the messiness of my day-to-day work life with a story that it should be more orderly, I will be frustrated because things are not as I think they should be. And I feel internal pressure to figure out how to make them right. On the other hand, when I show up and just notice what is, I sometimes notice that things are working out just fine without me having to do anything. Or that what I thought was the right outcome, maybe was not – or that something emerged that was better than I could have imagined. And sometimes what I thought should happen, did happen – but rather than trying to force it to happen sooner or unfold differently, I just noticed what was and did what seemed to be the right next thing to do, with much less frustration.

When I am in this zone, I have a lot more fun at work.   And I have been having a lot of fun lately. Now I think the trick is to not try and have fun – then I would be hanging on to tightly to how I think things should be going, and I would be back at wishing things were different then they are.

I think I am going to change my LinkedIn profile.

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3 Responses to Step one: appreciate the chaos

  1. Steve Tarnoff says:

    Eleanor, Just wanted you to know that I loved this post. It’s been fun following you. Thank you.

  2. This post was good to read. Reinforces the intention of showing up and noticing. Hard for me to do, as you know, as I tend to create stories based on little evidence. Thanks for stating the task so simply. Letting go the need to control is the ticket.

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