It was always going to be a close call. The misplaced keys simply made it impossible . . . But let me backtrack to the beginning.

It was the beginning of the notorious ‘flea season’ – that time of the year when the little black pests start to make their presence felt and the ‘take no prisoners’ war talk amongst the Coats clan reaches a crescendo. The war council met and decided on the tactic of bombing the enemy senseless with highly toxic and deadly effective Doom.

The plan was simple. Get all but one out the house, set the alarm, suck in some air, trigger the bombs and run for the door. After some debate the war council voted Vicky as the person best equipped and most likely to succeed in executing this operation. The unspoken belief was that it had more to do with lung capacity than sprinting prowess. The preparation went like clockwork. The appreciative family were evacuated, Vicky set the alarm, detonated the bombs and started her run. She made it to the front door in what is believed to be record time and was greeted by the cheering clan. Lock the door and let’s go!

Lock the door?

The keys had been left inside! In an instant Vicky had spun around and disappeared back into the fog-ridden interior. Could she retrieve the keys before the alarm was activated? Consensus amongst the clan waiting patiently in the fresh morning air was divided but, to a person, there was nothing but admiration and support for the initiative and endeavour on display. ‘Awesome’ and ‘legend’ were some of the words used and they were not out of place at this juncture.

We think she would have made but for the ill-timed phone call.

What proved fatal was the slight hesitation occasioned by the shrill ringing of the phone piercing the poisonous fog. Getting to the phone and beating the alarm was a task that not even Superwoman could possibly hope to pull off. And so chaos erupted. Deadly air, ringing phone, deafening alarm, mom inside and the rest of the family outside. It was a difficult situation, one that saw the early morning promise shriveling like a prune in a microwave.

Needless to say murky recriminations linger and some are haunted by thoughts of what more could have been done to avert the chaos. Like I said, it was a difficult situation and one that proves that even the best laid plans can go Iraq.

We live in a time of chaos.

In Greek mythology the gods Gaia and Chaos were partners in creation. It is often the destructive energy of chaos that dissolves the past and gives birth to the future. Times of chaos are rich in their potential to bring disaster or opportunity and navigating such times is no easy task for leaders. Scientists tell us that if we concentrate only on individual moments, on fragments of experience, we will see only chaos. However, if we stand back and look at what is taking shape, see the big picture, we can detect order, form and design. The role of leaders is to help organisations see the big picture and be willing to embrace chaos as a means of giving birth to the new.

Chaos is as much a part of leadership as it is of life. Expect it, deal with it, learn from it and work with it. Sometimes, though, it helps to be on the outside rather than on the inside!

TomorrowToday Global