The Conundrum


I have worked as a professional for almost two decades now. While I have had the opportunity to work and learn from the best, it also has been a mind-numbing, nerve-wracking experience. At times, I feel that I am watching a satirical movie play out in which characters would pop out randomly and do their own thing. Every time I think that it is all going to come crashing down, a strange twist would bring an illusion of order before the show morphs onto something else. Chaos thrives behind the facade of order. The disconnect between the planners and the doers is all for real. The doers are forced to adjust and adapt to the dynamic conditions and deliver flawlessly. More often than not it leaves the ones doing the work worn out and exasperated. While the shining stories of success burn bright, the burning embers of the almost, near misses and failures lie smoldering below. It does raise some questions though. Is this what success look like? Is it the result of a series of planned outcomes, or will you take the results no matter how haphazardly you arrived there? Who brings order to the world, the thinker or the doer? Or lastly, is the notion of order irrelevant?

Ordered Chaos

Organized Chaos is seen as a theory where there is order in disorder, with focus on the outcome rather than the process by itself

Organized Chaos: The Natural Law of Order | HuffPost Impact

I found the image above to be a stellar example of the phenomenon. There seems to be no logical order in which the vehicles move. Yet there are no collisions and everyone in the frame happen to make it safely onwards. I don’t think anyone could have predicted that outcome given the number of vehicles, conditions no pedestrian crossings, no traffic lights etc. I have to think that the above image is from somewhere in Asia. (I cannot imagine this happening in the United States). While there were no untoward incidents, I cannot believe that the experience was enjoyable for all of them involved, but you cannot discount the fact that the outcome was successful.

In the years of civilization, we as people have managed to improve the life quotient of a majority in the world. I cannot imagine for a moment that all of what was accomplished was born out of chaos. As members of a society, we have looked to create structures that provide stability for us. These structures help eliminate distractions and provide a sense of comfort that allow us to focus our minds on a higher purpose. Looking back in time, the doers of the world must have faced numerous challenges, yet they were able to churn out life altering technology, and medicine. Edison famously is believed to have said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” If that is not a testament to his character of overcoming adversity, I don’t know what is. They had to overcome limitations of the technology and also had to overcome challenges from doubters. They were able to balance out the distractors and deliver results. The process mattered as much as the outcome.

I cannot help wonder about the philosophical construct of yin and yang which advocates balance between the dual opposing concepts (Dark-Light, Order-Chaos etc.). In popular culture, shows and books explore this concept through their various characters. The protagonists always seem to realize the value in the nature of duality. One would not exist without the other. This makes me believe that the notion of order is not irrelevant and as long as chaos exists so will order.

In today’s age there are a multitude of factors that can bring challenges up to the table. Business priorities, global economic conditions, politics all tend to play a part in the day-to-day lives of all of us. The social structures that are put in place to enable us are themselves going through so much unknown causing uncertainty to pop up at all levels. Perhaps I need to take solace in the construct that nothing is permanent, and in the notion that these are just phases in life. Maybe accepting this reality will be the key to all of this. I am no Steve Jobs, but his idea of connecting the dots did resonate with me and I do genuinely believe that one’s past experiences help shape one’s life. And learning to connect the dots may not mean that I would have to understand all possible outcomes, instead there may need to just understand how I reacted to the challenges thrown at me. So rather than procced with the expectations that everything in life would play out in an orderly fashion, I may need to take a more balanced or neutral approach to things.

Hopefully, that will help me understand the method to the madness.

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