Pip and I are downsizing.
The house is too big. The kids have flown the nest. The cat, who saw them grow up, has died. Life has moved on, and we decided to sell up. In a few weeks’ time, our house will be home to a new family.
We are moving only a few miles away, to the seaside town of Sidmouth. But we are leaving behind 20+ years of family life, three bedrooms, a garage, and a mortgage. We are sad to move on, excited by what lies ahead.
There’s a lot to unpack and decide. We are emptying the house, room by room, spilling the contents of cupboards and drawers onto the floor. What comes, what goes?
But slowly we pick things out, guided by a new vision. We keep only what we truly need, and what brings us joy. Everything else has to go. After a couple of hours, it’s another room tidy and sorted. The resulting sense of liberation that follows confirms the choices made. Marie Kondo, the decluttering guru, would be proud.
As we are going through this process, I can’t help but notice the similarity with many coaching conversations I am having with tech leaders.
They have so much going on – dreams, plans, ideas, issues, questions, priorities, decisions. It often feels like chaos, too. And when they talk about the complexity of their competing demands, it’s not always clear how we are going to find a way through it. But we always do.
We just unpack it all. Like a house.
Once everything is laid out, there usually comes a moment when something goes ‘click’. A moment of inspiration and clarity, where true priorities and meaningful actions emerge naturally from the chaos.
Because we took the time to unpack. To notice. To feel.
Emotions are useful data. It’s no accident that Marie Kondo uses joy as a decision filter. Every emotion serves a function. As humans we have evolved this capability over 100,000s of years. We should make use of it.
There is also a fundamental law of nature that order is impossible without chaos. (Something to do with entropy and thermodynamics, apparently.)
The way out of chaos is not by resisting it, or rushing through it, but by embracing it. When, finally, something goes ‘click’, the sense of clarity and liberation feels like we are aligned with the natural order of things.
There’s still a few more rooms to sort, but I’m feeling more relaxed about the chaos now.
Just don’t mention the garage!