Friday, May 22, 2009


Chaos theory deals with very large complex systems in nature and its underlying theme is that within these systems there is order, but that order is chaotic and virtually unpredictable. The reason complex systems are hard to predict is because they are sensitive to changing conditions, and the smallest of changes can result in major effects, or chaos, in the overall system. This is part of the reason why your weather man is wrong so often as well as why your personal goals are disrupted so frequently.

Encapsulated within chaos theory is the butterfly effect. What the butterfly effect says is that small variations of the initial condition of a dynamic system may produce large variations in the long term behavior of the system. Founded in the attempts to predict weather, the butterfly effect got its name because a meteorologist hinted that if this theory were correct “one flap of a butterfly’s wings can change the course of weather forever”.

Chaos theory and the butterfly effect relate quite well to human behavior as well. Considering that human existence is a very large and complex system that is not immune to the theory of science, we too have the ability to allow small variations in our condition to produce chaos within our systems. This chaos is sensitive to our emotional condition and is hard to predict, no matter how small the disruption.

What is important to remember when we are looking into human performance is that any action, no matter how insignificant, can and will affect everything within our environment. We are the same as the earth’s ecology in the respect that we both are networks based on interdependent relationships where our success is dependant on our shared communities as much as our shared communities are dependant on our success.

The beauty of human life is that unlike other complex systems, we as humans have enough control to change the outcome of our system. While our end results may be unpredictable, we can make the necessary changes to put ourselves in positions to succeed. While the flap of a butterfly’s wings may have the ability to change the course of the weather, we on the other hand can choose which way we would like to fly. Because of this our attitudes and intentions may not be predictors about where we will end up, but will put us on a path where we can see a potential outcome.

What this outcome can potentially become has much to do with our ability to recognize not just the path we are on, but what internal barriers we are putting in front of ourselves. In recognition of our personal barriers, we can then enlist the help of our shared community to assist in allowing us to succeed. There is not one of us who can achieve success by ourselves. We can shape the path we choose to follow through our goals, but without recognizing the need to enlist others into our system, we become susceptible the gentle push created by the flap of a butterfly wing. When this push is supported we generate positive power, yet if this push is unforeseen we encounter chaos.

No matter how much order we create in our lives we need to know that we will encounter chaos, it is unavoidable. The length of time we spend in a chaotic environment is not dependant on how strong the push is, it is dependant on our ability to regain control of ourselves and restore internal order.

Like it is said in chaos theory, we are sensitive to changing conditions. Unlike chaos theory, we have the ability to prevent small changes from resulting in major effects. If we can exert our internal will and enlist external assistance, then we can create order that will be less chaotic and more predictable, therefore more impactful and successful.

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