Crafting a Future from the Edge of Chaos

The future is uncertain… but this uncertainty is at the very heart of human creativity.- Ilya Prigogine

These days we all know someone who is worried about the future. What does it hold professionally, economically and personally for the individual? Are you wondering what comes next? Or about what might be? In these changing and unsteady times many of us are asking those questions. These are issues I am contemplating, as a beloved chapter of my professional life begins to draw to a close, and  a new a chapter will have to begin.

For this new chapter I have some idea of the potential plot line and some notions of the likely characters, but they are not fully realized, yet. That is exciting.  There are possibilities to cultivate and others unknown to be open to as well. There are many sources of information and wisdom from which to draw: the news, history, mentors, family, and friends.  But occasionally this time and all these various sources of information, well it also feels unnerving. It is this very tension, which can manifest in what has been referred to the “Edge of Chaos”.  “Edge of Chaos” is a concept explored in complex adaptive systems and is a place for growth. 

What is a complex adaptive system ? “A system…is a group of interacting or interdependent elements that form a complex whole that unfolds over time. A defining feature of all true systems is they form entities that are greater than the sum of their parts. Complex adaptive systems are so named because the parts that make them are whole systems in their own right (Dimitrov, 2003)”  Our families, our communities, our places of work, our network of friends, the towns, cities and states within which we live and indeed our nations, these are all complex adaptive systems.  And I would add we as individuals are also complex adaptive systems; all the intricate, interconnected elements of our physical bodies, our minds and even our spirits, make a whole being, each us exquisitely unique, yet undeniably human.

Openness or permeability of a system changes over time, it can be more or less open at different points in time. Think about the growth periods experienced as we progress from childhood through adulthood. Without enough openness then entropy occurs within a system and it grows stale and potentially no longer useful. Think about a routine in your life that no longer works as well as it used to. Growth of a system is dependent on its ability to access and utilize challenge and feedback from outside. Where there is sufficient energy and information, diversity and connectivity between system elements (namely you and the various, people, organizations and sources of information etc. to whom you are connected), complex adaptive systems are marked by a dynamic equilibrium. How we behave, reactively and proactively, is an emergent property; one that we are able to adapt in novel ways, because we incorporate positive and negative feedback loops. We can remain open to the wisdom and information available to us from a variety of sources and use it to actively shape our future.

While this time in our lives may feel chaotic is also is infused with hope. Hope based in reality is powerful. If one has high hope, that person will likely have better academic success, physical health and superior ability to overcome obstacles among other things. Two key elements to hope, pathways thinking and sense of agency. Pathway thinking allows an individual to consider what other options or paths may exist if one route does not work. Sense of agency is a sense that you can reach your destination or desired outcome.

There are four broad areas of activity associated with Edge of Chaos:

  1. Setting vision
  2. Creating boundaries
  3. Ensuring adequate communication flow
  4. Empowerment

Couple these with reality-based hope and you can create a vision for your future that can be real, with some openness and work.

For those of you in the Galesburg, Peoria, Quad Cities, Burlington area, I invite you to join me on June 24th  in a workshop grounded in this thinking.

Powerful Living:

Visualization for Creating

Your Best Life

A workshop for you to stop, reflect, and focus, on your life and your future.

We’ll create a vision and a plan for you to realize that vision.

We’ll even play a little, and who couldn’t use a little bit of fun these days?

Date:  Wednesday, June 24, 2009                    Time: 4 pm – 6 pm

Location: Inner Wisdom, 31 N Kellogg St, Galesburg, IL

RSVP by Monday, June 22, 2009 at (309) 343-8806

There is a minimum of 4 people and a maximum of 12 people for the workshop

Costs: $25, a willingness to be open to possibilities and two hours of your time

Benefits: Clarity, Focus, Satisfaction and Some Fun

Brought to you by In Motion Consulting and Coaching and Inner Wisdom

Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts.- Rita Mae Brown