Oct 092011

The quintessential Virgo, I like order. My house is straight, my desk free of clutter, and nothing in my refrigerator is past its expiration date. Order gives me the illusion of control; when things are in order I feel all is right with the world.

For the past few weeks, my life has felt chaotic. Despite my best efforts, I can’t seem to bring order into life.

I shared my discomfort with a girlfriend. “Take a chill pill, Randy,” she candidly counseled.  “You are going through change, and with change comes confusion; it’s a normal part of growth.”

I read once that in science chaos doesn’t mean disorder and confusion. Rather it is the path that leads to growth and evolution. In our lives, chaos doesn’t mean a lack of order and organization; it simply means that perhaps we aren’t ready yet to understand where our lives are headed.

Howard Hanger, rector of “Jubilee!” an alternative church that I once attended in Asheville, has this to say about chaos, “A predictable life of pure order is utterly impossible, not to mention dreadfully boring. Likewise, a life of pure chaos is hard to take.  But if the chaos theory is true — or even partly true — it means that all the crazy, unexplainable things happening in your life may be just what it takes to move your butt to a certain place.”

Remembering Howard’s wise words, I take a deep breath and settle into my discomfort. I can now accept it, knowing that if my life doesn’t have at least a little chaos, I am not evolving.

Jul 082011

My friend Justine is a single mom with two special-needs kids. As if that’s not enough, Justine is a busy solo-entrepreneur whose business is just beginning to take off.

“I get so overwhelmed, I want to shut down,” she confessed. It was martini night at one of our favorite restaurants, and Justine I were taking full advantage of the special.

I sympathized. Many  people—especially women—I talk to these days are feeling stretched to the max.

“Everything seems to be a priority,” she continued.

Recently, I created a simple formula for determining priorities that I’ve begun to share with clients. I wondered if it would help Justine. I asked her.

“Please! Anything! I’m desperate.”

I began. First, question if you really need to do the project in the first place. Review return-on-investment, passion, and purpose. Begin by thinking of the three as interlocking circles; then look for the place they met.” I explained that for each option, she should consider:

Return-on-Investment: Does the effort and expense justify the amount of money the new project will produce? For example, when I analyzed writing another book, I had to conclude no. Writing is hard work, and it’s time-consuming. Yet books seldom generate a great deal of money.

Passion: How juiced am I about the project? I love writing, but writing a hundred-page book right now seems daunting.

Purpose: Finally, does the project support my mission: helping professionals stand in their power by becoming the full expression of all they are? Depending on the topic, it could, but so would a number of other vehicles that are less time-consuming, more fun, and offer a higher return-on-investment.

I crossed writing another book off my list.

“That’s really great, Randy, but who has time to do all that introspection?” she asked, laughing.

It struck me that maybe the best thing I could do for Justine right now is to just listen and be sympathetic.

“You’re one of the busiest people I know. I don’t know how you do it all,” I said. “How about another round?”