Our reality is essentially constituted by order and chaos, and our lives are essentially a process of navigating the line between the two.
You encounter chaos when you don’t understand what’s going on, you can’t easily predict what’s going to happen next, or you don’t experience the results you expect to when you take a certain action.
You experience order when you understand what’s happening, you can pretty easily predict what’s going to happen next, and you get the results that you expect to have when you take a certain action.
When you experience too much chaos it can cause a lot of stress. Uncertainty means you don’t know what you’re facing, so you feel like you’re facing everything, and that takes an immense toll after very long.
When you experience too much order, it can also cause a lot of stress. Too much order is tyrannical, it’s soul crushing, it’s mind numbing, and it’s tedious, and it’s boring.
What you want to have in your life is the exact right mix of order and chaos. You want to have one foot in order and the other in chaos. So you have a “home base” so to speak, and a new territory to explore.
You don’t want so much chaos that you’re terrified, and you don’t want so much order that you’re dead inside.
Instead the ideal balance gives you a sense that time is passing correctly. When you strike the ideal balance between chaos and order, you’re interested in what you’re doing and you forget about yourself. You get lost in the moment. You’re engaged. You’re exploring, learning, and likely creating something.
If you feel overwhelmed by stress in your life, and that stress is sapping your energy instead of charging you up, it may be that the balance of chaos and order in your life is off somehow.
Sometimes this is unavoidable, especially if you are in the pursuit of greatness and relevance and usefulness to your society. As you take on responsibility for more (and that is what becoming successful ultimately means, it means you are given greater and greater responsibility as you prove yourself worthy of it to your society), there are more encounters with both chaos and tyrannical order.
Reckoning with this, transforming total chaos into balanced order by leaning into it and bringing your attention and energy to bear upon it, to understand it, make sense of it, and map it out to gain mastery over it- is the work of the successful among us.
Also: transforming too much order into chaos, by introducing disruptive (and better) thinking into an overly ordered system is the work of the most successful among us.
Here’s how the CEOs of some of the world biggest companies, the people who do this best and have to do it the most, successfully handle the stress of running a huge business.