Some people thrive in chaos. They all have something in common: Instincts. But everyone has instincts, right? So why don’t the rest of us thrive in chaos?
Just a few years ago it was unimportant. There was no or little chaos, so the ability to thrive in it wasn’t important. Today is different. The world has become more unpredictable – which is just another way to say ‘changing faster’. And fast change feels like chaos to most people.
My wife is the most orderly person I’ve ever known – to the extent that she’s mocking herself about it some times. Such orderliness creates predictability – the opposite of chaos. Still, she’s also thriving in chaos. In a blink she sees what needs to be done to handle a situation – reduce chaos, reinstate order. Then she executes – alone or as a team leader. Instincts – combined with many other personal traits into a very rare ‘package’.
Everyone has instincts, some pronounced, others subdued, maybe lacking. Programs – properties if you like – in our brain that may be developed or ignored. When working, they allow us to see or understand or sense (make sense of) something extremely fast. Which is also known as ‘thinking without thinking’, interestingly discussed in one of Malcolm Gladwell’s bestsellers, Blink (2005).
The big question about instincts is whether they can be learned. I honestly don’t know what the brain experts say, but I don’t think so. On the other hand, I do think instincts can be trained. I also think they can be ‘untrained’. Like muscles and brain cells, they disappear or go to sleep if they aren’t being used.
And this is where most of us are – our instincts out of touch with reality. Chaos around us is increasing while our innate ‘programs’ – for survival, for order, for handling unfamiliar situations and much more are either hibernating or dead from suffocation or disuse.
We really need to do something about this – and the first step, actually a very big step if measured by its effects, is to start thinking again. Let the instincts loose. It’s just too tempting – the slogan is there right in front of us: Make your brain great again. Stop using helpers for everything, start remembering, do calculations in your head, look around and observe, skip headphones and earbuds, listen to the world and let the brain work instead of slowly suffocating.
Slightly different angle, but this is what an earlier post on mindset3.org – Security: Everything is Broken – is all about: Our cybersecurity and a lot of other things are broken because we’re not paying attention. Landslides, flooding and other catastrophes happen because we ignored the warnings.
This is not how we build a sustainable future. We need to make our brains great again. Then we may all be thriving in chaos – and in life – together.