I wouldn’t immediately describe myself as a ‘hopeless mess’, but those who know me would say I can be a little ‘disorganised’ and ‘scatterbrained’.
My desk is flooded with scraps of papers. At any given time, I have a thousand tabs open on my computer. And let’s not even start discussing the state of my computer desktop…. It gives most people utter anxiety.
Ever since the age of 5 – when my room resembled the aftermath of a hurricane – I’ve been consistently reminded that disorder leads to mistakes, and that neatness and precise organisation are keys to success. Every attempt to ‘fit in’ feels like wearing a suit tailored for someone else.
But guess what? It turns out that my scatterbrained tendencies might actually be a sign of intelligence and creativity. Well, that’s according to Eric Barker, writing for Time Magazine. He presents a theory that says messiness is an indicator of intelligence and that an idea-cluttered brain can lead to more potential breakthroughs. It’s as if disorganised, scatterbrained people are trained to thrive in chaos.
Ultimately, your own disorganisation will train you to approach situations differently, perhaps in a way that prepares you to handle the disorderly nature of life.
You see, the most successful people are the ones who can react when obstacles arise, but who can also remain focused on their objectives.
This brings me to an interesting thought Carre Le Page recently posted on his LinkedIn feed. Carre urged people to “use the difficulty.”
He cited the example of Sir Michael Caine, who as a young actor was rehearing a stage play when a chair prop ended up being wedged into the door that he was supposed to enter the stage through.
He said to the director: “I’m sorry sir, I can’t get in. There’s a chair there.”
The director responded with: “Use the difficulty! If it’s a comedy, fall over it. If it’s a drama, pick it up and smash it!”
It was a lightbulb moment for Michael Caine, both for his acting career and also for his approach to life – he has since taken that philosophy into how he approaches any situation.
He says: “Anything bad happens, you have to use the difficulty – what can we get out of it? There’s never anything so bad that you cannot use that difficulty. If you can use it a quarter of one percent to your advantage, you’re ahead. You didn’t let it get you down.”
It makes me think that young Michael Caine’s mom was probably also led to desperation by the untidiness of his room.
The word “chaos” just has a bad rap, according to Ashli Akins in her TedEx talk, The Creativity of Chaos. She explains that from a point of chaos, a system has one of two options: to collapse or to transcend to a new level.
“Without chaos we are too stable to reorganise. We are too inflexible to adapt and change,” she says. “But if we were to harness chaos, follow the disruptions from our usual paths, then maybe we’d find something better. This is where innovation lies.”
So, it turns out we need a little chaos in our lives to thrive… As the CEO of CinePipe Jim Plamondon puts it: “Without order, civilisation is impossible. Without chaos, civilisation is intolerable.”
What the world has been musing over the past week
A new anthem for South Africa?
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The most famous mugshot in history
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Everybody gets a hug
On a mission to spread love and care, a Pretoria wellness coach spends hours every week dishing out hugs to complete strangers in his community.
A happy high rise
Cape Town’s newest high: The world’s tallest hemp building! Who knew going green could be so… towering?
Bye, bye Nesquik
A sad day for hot chocolate lovers. Nestlé South Africa has decided to discontinue Nesquik chocolate and strawberry (250g and 500g) from 21 August 2023.