Plan B for High Achievers: Chaotic Pendulum

by Alina on May 31, 2017

in Career Change, Decision-making, Happiness, Leadership, Power

You’re smart and resourceful. You can afford to waste a little time if you choose to, because when you work, you work ten times faster than an average person in your position.

You think and plan for a wide range of outcomes; you are reliable, and your work is impeccable.

You account for the fact that many people around you don’t operate at the same level and pace as you do, so you pre-emptively pick up the balls that others will inevitably drop. Also, you probably find it surprising that the world still goes around, despite so many people [seemingly] half-*ssing through their commitments, right?

You’ve got everything covered. But then, something major falls through the cracks.

     Your colleague gets another job, leaving you with a double load right before the deadline

     Your partner hits midlife crisis, “10 years too early”.

     Your child isn’t accepted into [insert the name of the program], and moreover, he couldn’t care less about [insert the subject you believe your child must know deeply and work on passionately].

     You don’t get the promised promotion you’ve earned.

     Or even this: uncharacteristically, without realizing it on time, you screw up… (The chances are that if you didn’t see a problem coming, most other people didn’t either, because you’re as good as it gets; this doesn’t make you feel better, though.)

Even if the situation is technically out of your control, you still own the outcome. What’s your plan?

Think of it this way: often, what you are trying to control is much more like a double (or even triple) pendulum, chaotic and unpredictable, then like a single pendulum, which you can proactively control and analyze.

(If you want a small distraction, you can experiment with a double pendulum here as you contemplate how many life factors outside of your control you’re trying to tame: )

Plan B for high achievers entails changing your perspective to the following: “I know this is not where I planned or wanted to be, but I’m dealing with a chaotic pendulum, so here I am. “Messy” is exactly how things are expected to go. This is normal.”

Life and death, weather, other people’s personalities and agendas, politics, genetics, luck and many other factors contribute to your work/life being a lot more like a triple pendulum than you care to admit.

If you insist, put your mind on figuring out how to make the movement of this chaotic pendulum “controlled and periodic”, as you just may be the genius to figure it out reliably and consistently every time.

In the meantime, allow the sunflower seed to grow into a sunflower, and a marigold seed grow into a marigold, because even if you don’t “allow” it, nature will have its way.

Here are some of the questions to ask yourself when things are not working out despite your best efforts:

     Am I dealing with a single pendulum, or a chaotic pendulum?

     What can I realistically take responsibility for in this situation?

     What authority do I need to get in order to support all the responsibility I’m taking?

     How can I learn to be at peace with the fact that things outside of my control (like the nature of sunflower seeds, or the nature of our children and co-workers) are what they are, not what I think they should be?

My new website project, , is also a triple pendulum project, surprisingly to me and probably predictably to any experienced designer. So, instead of grand fanfares, here’s a soft launch and an invitation:

The mobile version is still a work in progress, but if you’re at the computer, please, kindly be one of the first friends, colleagues, and clients to visit and share your thoughts with me. I will read your message closely, your opinion matters to me. Thank you.

May we all have luck and wisdom to handle the chaotic pendulum of plan B in peace.


Academy-of-ManagementNeed a change of pace? Is it time for a transformation? Learn more here.

THIS SUMMER I’ll be presenting and co-presenting on  intuition development for analytical thinkers at a conference for Psychotherapists at Garrison Institute, and at the Academy of Management conference in Atlanta. Would you like to introduce your organization to research-based programs on intuition development? Let’s set up a call to discuss. (Or send me an email at )

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