Have you ever been right in the centre of really incredible chaos?
Driving (or rather being driven) through Haiti re-defined for me what chaos even really means. My desktop dictionary says that chaos means “complete disorder and confusion” and however succinct and accurate those words may be, sometimes we need to truly live something in order to truly know it.
But you know? What seems like chaos to me could easily be someone else’s version of order. Other people who understand what’s going on, live within that system and know the rules of engagement may see complete order in the very same situation. For example, in the case of the Port-Au-Prince traffic, it kind of seemed that the spots with a police officer directing traffic were actually more chaotic because the officer was a variance being introduced into the generally accepted system.
Trying to decode the chaos made me realize that my surroundings were making me a bit uncomfortable, which in turn made me realize “good, there’s something to learn here.”
Sometimes our discomfort and disappointments in life are really just a result of our current reality colliding with our own expectations. For example, you could see the frustration some of the drivers and police were feeling: the drivers expected their usual morning drive through town, the police expected that their actions would easily bring order but both were not having the experience that they expected. Their reality was at odds with their expectations.
This reminded me of the importance of keeping “the empty cup.” If you don’t know what I mean, I’m referring to this Buddhist parable:
Once there was a university professor who went to visit with a Zen master to discuss things of a Zen nature. While they talked, it became clear to the Zen master that the professor considered himself quite knowledgeable on the subject of Zen and Buddhism, going on and on about various related topics. The Zen master listened, and then offered tea. He went to fetch the tea pot and cups and set one before the professor.
The Zen master began pouring tea while the professor continued talking, but when the cup became full to the brim, the Zen master continued pouring. Tea spilled over the edge and all over the table!
“Stop, what are you doing?!” the professor spoke, interrupting himself. “Can’t you see that the cup is full?”
“You are like this cup,” the Zen master explained. “You are so full of information that nothing more gets in. You came here to discuss Zen, but how can I show you what is Zen if you do not first empty your up?”
The professor thought for a moment and became silent, ready then to receive lessons from the Zen master.
Sometimes the things we think we know can stop us from learning more. Sometimes we need to approach the situation with “the empty cup,” to have empathy and to take the time to understand what is really going on.
CLICK HERE to read My Excellent Haitian Adventure Pt. 1
CLICK HERE to read My Excellent Haitian Adventure Pt. 2
Travis is the People and Culture guy at 360Incentives.com Connect with Travis onTwitter or Instagram @travisdutka or “Professionally” on LinkedIn. 360 is changing the world of incentives. Check out our careers page here!