Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Butterfly Effect

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. I have always loved systemic theories because they in essence allow me to simultaneously be part of something greater than myself and disengage me from crushing culpability when faced with any situation that I feel is substandard in relation to my perfectionist nature vis a vis all things humanitarian. I have always been fascinated with butterflies as they are original, free and symbolic of deep transformation. What does this have to do with the GROOC?  
I joined the GROOC initiative as a way to heal the collateral emotional damage that I accumulated working for a large scale health care organization. It was a very selfish reason for joining a social change effort. I needed to evolve, to neutralize the negative mind frame that was destroying my ability to engage in a constructive way. I was a wounded warrior and I wanted to regenerate but I did not know how…
The first day as a GROOC facilitator I was introduced to my colleagues and interestingly I found that many of the bright young professionals in the room were also searching for a way to redefine themselves, their professional paths and their mission in life. It was refreshing to be surrounded by people who were as open about their failures as their accomplishments. It was difficult to determine the difference between our moments of strengths and our moments of vulnerability.
As the GROOC initiative gained speed I realized that I was mostly in the dark when it came to gaging the impact of my interventions and the benefits of the program. I had moments of connection and moments of rejection. I made new friends and I lost possible collaborators. I surprised myself in my knowledge and my inability to transfer that knowledge into actionable results. Almost none of my predictions or expectations were validated and I was left puzzled most of the time.
Within the chaos, the uncertainty and the darkness; flashes of colourful moving light emerged at the most improbable of moments.  The deepest of greens, corals, violets and yellows flying in my unconscious bringing me great joy, courage, inspiration and hope. Sometimes they would inspire me to continue and other times they would guide me to rest. Eventually they told me to stop measuring the impacts stop calculating my value. As I did this I noticed that the linear expectations I had for a team or idea had fallen and given place to a beautiful mess; a personalized mess with an identity all of its own. The ideas, the people, the teams had created their glorious individual wings, non-replicable and non-predictable. This is when I knew I had done my job.
As I put on my winter jacket today I took an accidental look in the mirror and for a split second I saw a colourful mix of shadows on my back.  It was the butterfly effect of this experience that was pushing me out of my home, out of my old perspectives into a new world that we had co-created.      

Sylvia Papazian M.A

1 comment:

  1. "a beautiful mess"

    That's a great description.

    What is it about this messy experience that makes it so beautiful?

    For me, it is some of the people, some of the interactions, some of the interesting and inspiring coursework and other material offered by those involved. But those blessings don't require that things be messy.

    I think some of the "beauty" also comes from the nature of the chaos of an interregnum. Between the hegemony of successive ruling paradigms, when we have recognized that the old ("linear") ways have become a dysfunctional "iron cage," and have flown free of them, we feel both an unconstrained freedom and the potential, within this freedom, to re-create our world - to make it conform to the visions of the better angels of our nature.