By Jim Bright
The late Trevor Francis was a celebrated footballist who will be remembered, among other things, as being Britain’s first £1 million ($1.9 million) player. He was also involved in some football chaos inspired by the iconoclastic manager Brian Clough.
Clough decided that the ideal preparation for the 1979 European Cup final was for his players to go out and get drunk. Relaxation was the priority preparation for the big day. Partaking of a surfeit of Pilsners on offer in Munich that eve seemed to reach the parts conventional managers could not reach. Francis distracted his sore head by using it to fire a cross into the net and helped his team, Nottingham Forest, to win the European Cup.
Now regular readers may think they can predict the rest of this column as being an argument for drinking as an essential for career success. And as tempting as that may be – and I nod to Hemingway, Richard Harris, or Churchill – it is the unpredictability that chaos brings that leads to success.
We spend our lives engaged in the pursuit of normalcy and novelty. We seek predictability and perturbation. Routine in our lives helps us reduce our energy costs. Placing our house keys on the key hook routinely spares us the frantic treasure hunt each morning against the unforgiving schedule of the bus timetable. Yet the prospect of going to the same workplace, to see the same colleagues with the same bad jokes, to do the same work tasks until the same time each day until our day off, ultimately becomes soul-destroying for many.
Especially so if we are similarly trapped in our non-work time into the same routines of running kids to sports, cleaning, doing laundry, or even going to the same club to see the same people to do the same things. We need pattern to organise our lives, but we need surprise to keep our lives fresh and vital.
In the TV show Ted Lasso, about an idiot-savant American football coach who finds himself managing an English Association football team, the eponymous Ted embraces chaos and unpredictability as a way of bringing out the best in his diverse team.
He employs a form of organised chaos called Total Football, a strategy where players constantly change positions and continually pass to each other, setting up unpredictable patterns of play. Initially, it is a disaster as players used to the conformities of orthodoxy find themselves outside their routines and lost at sea on the pitch. However, over time they embrace the creative possibilities of uncertainty, and reap the rewards, as did those Nottingham Forest players in 1979.
Deliberately disrupting predictable patterns keeps things fresh and allows for creative new solutions. It demands that we can adapt to changing circumstances. It keeps us vital at work because those who stop moving are liable to be overtaken by competitors. To live is to move. To move in ways that allow new and unpredictable patterns to emerge is to live fully.
So let’s have three cheers for chaos and unpredictability. It might be hard to live with, but it is harder still to live without it.
Dr Jim Bright, FAPS owns Bright and Associates, a career management consultancy and is director of evidence & impact at BECOME Education an ed tech start-up, become.education. Email to [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @DrJimBright
The Business Briefing newsletter delivers major stories, exclusive coverage and expert opinion. Sign up to get it every weekday morning.
Source: Thanks smh.com