By Angela Civitella

There’s certainly been a lot of talk these past 18 months about all the chaos in our businesses — and more so, the world around us. The pandemic struck and everything changed in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, for many businesses, there was no recovery, and it was the end of the line for them. On the other hand, for those who were nimble, were able to pivot and adapt to the changing times, business continued just in some new and different ways.

Whether it’s as major as a pandemic or something on a smaller scale like having too much on your plate, chaos can make or break you. It’s not always easy to anticipate what tomorrow will bring, but you can be prepared for things like change, going in a new direction and ready to take on whatever life or work throws your way.

Here are eight ways to embrace the chaos:

1. Go with the Flow. Don’t Hold Back the Tide. There are so many things in life that are out of our control. A lot may happen in ways that are different than we had envisioned but trying to fight it and hold back the tide will only leave you under water. Learn to adapt to any circumstance instead of trying to force circumstances to adapt to you. This might sound a little overwhelming at first, but the better you become at just rolling with the punches, the upside is tremendous in both your personal and professional life.

2. Widen Your Horizons. While chaos might seem like an unwelcome surprise when it occurs, it can break you out of stagnation and help you to realize that there is a much larger world of possibilities than you had expected. Innovation born from necessity has helped spur many of the world’s greatest inventions and progressive leaps forward. In other words, chaos often leads to bigger and better things.

3. Core Strength. While you may suffer some loss during times of chaos, you will find that you can withstand far more than you had previously thought. Adversity may breed sorrow if you let yourself succumb to it, but it can also help to concentrate and solidify your strengths. Steel cannot be made unless it is put to the fire, but it comes out of the ordeal a stronger material than its constituent parts.

4. Step Lively. Operating a business in times of chaos will help to keep you sharp. You may not have the opportunity to carefully plan and prepare. Chaos can help you learn to think fast and be quick on your feet. You may be able to accelerate your entire evaluation and judgment processes and feel more comfortable making quick decisions.

5. Raze Dilapidated Structures. Most people carry around a lot of physical and emotional baggage. Chaos may force us to discard all but the essentials. While it can be painful, you might also find that you have been unburdened and have a weight that you didn’t even realize was there lifted off your shoulders.

6. Passthrough Mindset. Chaos can help us focus on the present and not dwell on the past or live in fear of the future.

Having events simply pass through us lets us put all of our energy into what can be done right now. This will cut the tow line of all the mistakes we made before, and it will help us concentrate on the task at hand. Making the most of every moment can make every moment more productive.

7. Brainstorming. If we stay in our comfort zone, we will not forge any new paths. Embracing the swirling storm of chaos can take us to many unexpected destinations. These may only be temporary, or it may lead to a new promised land. When we are forced to abandon the old, there is the new — new ideas, new methods, new lives.

8. Looking In, Not Out. Chaos can destroy exterior tangible and intangible structures. Your business may go under, or you home may be destroyed in a natural disaster. While we are all affected by our environment, what chaos cannot change is who we are inside. By learning to turn your attention inward, you will find that you have almost all you need within yourself. You are not defined by possessions or titles. You are an individual and you carry all of your accumulated talents and strengths with you.

The Takeaway. Life is unpredictable. The direction of your business can change at a moment’s notice. One thing is for certain: Things are going to get crazy and overwhelming. Are you ready to act? Are you ready to embrace it? Will you stay level-headed?

Here’s a little secret: If things are slow, mundane and always go by the book, it’s usually a sign of stagnation. On the flip side of that, the most successful companies are the ones who take the chaos and unpredictability and thrive to the next level.

Which one are you?

Angela Civitella is an executive, a business leadership coach and the founder of Intinde (www.intinde.com).

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