Let chaos reign, then rein in chaos

I’ve never met or interacted with Ben Horowitz but I have deep respect for his thoughts and work. His book “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” was fantastic. In his book, he frequently spoke about the influence Andy Grove’s “High Output Management” had on his management style. A few weeks back, he shared the foreword he’d written for the latest edition of Andy’s book on his blog. As is the case with Ben, there’s a lot of value in reading that foreword alone and I shared with a group of friends while also buying the book.

Half way through it, there have been a lot of interesting nuggets. My favorite one so far has been – “Let chaos reign, then rein in chaos.” As leaders, chaos is a given and being anything other than accepting of it is foolish. However, it is our prerogative to build systems that help us rein in chaos.

I thought of this as I was learning to ski today. A big part of learning to ski is being comfortable with losing a bit of control (especially as a beginner) as you pick up the speed required to make frequent turns. But, it is vital you then do what it takes to get back in control. As time passes, I’ve come to observe that deep lessons tend to be basic principles that, in turn, tend to transcend context.

This is definitely one of those. Thank you, Andy. And, thank you, Ben.

chaos, andy grove

Be surprised when things go as per plan

“I wait for you to make a plan so I can make a complete mockery of it and mess it up.” | The Universe

If the universe could talk, I’m certain that would be something it would say. As human beings, we attach ourselves to positive outcomes more often than we should and then waste a lot of energy worrying and cursing when our plans inevitably go awry.

The only way around is to consistently take the opposite stance – be surprised when things go as per plan… because, when you are sitting amidst chaos today having just watched your grand plan disintegrate in the last few hours, you ought to know that all is normal in this world.

No reason for annoyed reactions. Smile, remember the duck – keep calm above water and paddle hard underneath, and carry on.