I know a number of people who reliably have a constellation of problems and disasters around them, no matter the circumstance.
These are highly successful people who, despite their accomplishments, always have a disproportionately high number of problems. In most cases, particularly in business, much of the chaos is connected to weak relationships. It might be a business partner who has proved to be untrustworthy, an employee who shirks responsibilities, or an investor who won’t stop rattling cages.
Everyone has periodic challenges in dealing with others, but what differentiates chaos magnets is that they always have tumultuous relationships, and they always have problems that result.
Perhaps you’ve known such individuals. Perhaps it describes you. If so, you must ask yourself: Are you a chaos magnet?
A chaos magnet is exactly what the name implies.
Just like a moth to the flame, chaos magnets are drawn to pandemonium and disarray. And just like the moth, the resulting problems are a function of choices they make. And they make those choices again and again. The question is why?
Chaos-seeking in business can often be attributed to one or more of these deep-seated motivations:
1. You feel you deserve it. The chaos magnets I encounter are highly successful, often much more so than those around them; or perhaps they’ve achieved far more success than their childhood peers. The disparity can engender a sense of guilt, which becomes internalized. Unconsciously, the turmoil that comes into their lives can feel like penance that rights the scale.
2. You have feelings of inadequacy. Conversely, some chaos magnets are surrounded by people who are more successful than they are. For such individuals, being in a perpetual state of frenzy puts them in the spotlight.
3. You have nothing to take its place. For many chaos magnets, they’ve been in non-stop turbulence for years, sometimes decades. It becomes a way of life, and it’s difficult to imagine it being any other way. Brief periods of respite might feel boring, or even frightening, causing still more chaos-seeking behaviors.
4. You minimize the impact. The chaos magnets I encounter are significantly successful, and that very success can cause them to rationalize the tumult around them, leading them to conclude that their life is normal, or that the upheaval isn’t that bad.
Unlike the moth, who dies when he flies into the flame, the problem with chaos magnets is that they don’t just cause disorder for themselves. The bedlam in their lives also impacts everyone else in their orbit.
The moth doesn’t know any better. But now you do.