Making Sense of Chaos

By Andrew Leigh and Veronica Roberts 31st July 2019

A curious invasion occurred in late June 2019 at Sadler’s Wells, the home of UK ballet.

One hundred of Maynard Leigh’s guests discovered how to deal with chaos and uncertainty at an experiential seminar. The previous event in 2017 asked participants: “What do you do when you don’t know what to do?”

This latest experience went further and asked: “What do you do when nobody knows what to do?”


First, participants were engulfed by immersive theatrics: lightening, thunder, and extracts from news bulletins which described the current state of global chaos. Next, two of Maynard Leigh’s most experienced coaches – Bill Britten and Veronica Roberts – enticed half the audience to join them onstage. Carefully choreographed chaos followed.

Those remaining in their seats were instructed to cover their ears while Bill gave the rest a secret instruction. When the still-seated audience uncovered their ears, they witnessed a strange and seemingly disorganised melee on stage. What on earth was happening?

It seemed like chaos; yet the leaders revealed that people were all moving to a simple logic. It only looked a mess to the audience because they didn’t know what was going on.

Sometimes, when we don’t grasp the big picture, the effect can be confusing. By uncovering the hidden rules, we can start to understand what’s going on. We can then engage more effectively.

Change, explained the two leaders, scrambles the brain. This undermines our confidence and is often uncomfortable.

Bill and Veronica offered four simple rules for making sense of chaos, based on a new Maynard Leigh model. In disruptive times we need: perception, reflection, imagination, and volition.

Those on stage explored ways of putting this approach to work in real life. Each person chose something from their own experience where, when faced with disruption, complexity or chaos, they found it difficult to function. Using this approach helped contextualise the rest of the event.

Among the many useful lessons to emerge were:

To keep everyone on their toes but back in their seats, highly experienced Jungian psychoanalyst Carol Leader explained about the importance of reflection in response to chaos. This includes the human response of fight, flight, or freeze in the face of chaos, change, and disruption.

Next Veronica explained how valuable rehearsal space can be for an actor. It’s a place where there’s permission to explore and create new ideas, approaches, and behaviours. The same is true in the business environment.

That’s what Maynard Leigh does and what the event demonstrated through actual experience. We create opportunities with space to explore and create new possibilities.

Participants left with plenty of ideas about how to master chaos, including a bespoke set of Do It Now cards on self-mastery.


If you'd be interested in hearing more about how Maynard Leigh can help you navigate chaos and disruption by building resilience and self-mastery, get in contact with us here.

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