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The entire Navigate the Chaos collection of all 365 blog posts is now available in a paperback entitled Navigate the Chaos (795 pages for $24.99). A smaller collection of thoughts from the Navigate the Chaos collection is available in paperback entitled Wonder (94 pages for $4.99)

How often do you experience disruption?

Today is December 23 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you experience disruption?” People who navigate the chaos have learned to make difficult choices that will allow them to develop their potential. Author Julia Alvarez wrote "Each of us will have to make the choices that allow us to be the largest versions of ourselves."

Born on March 27, 1950, in New York City, Alvarez was raised in the Dominican Republic, but had to leave the country when she was 10 years old; her family had supported an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow dictator Rafael Trujillo, and then fled to Brooklyn, New York. Struggling at first to adapt to her new home, Alvarez graduated from Middlebury College in 1971, and went on to earn a master's degree from Syracuse University in 1975. The theme of being caught between two cultures can be found throughout Alvarez's poetry and fiction work. She explored this cultural divide in her first novel, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, published in 1991, which garnered critical and commercial success.

‘Becoming the largest version of yourself,’ however, requires one to risk, to fear, and to overcome. As Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky noted “Times of crisis, of disruption or constructive change, are not only predicable, but desirable. They mean growth. Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” Some people lack this focus and allow some external award to prevent them from speaking, doing, and inspiring. An example of this comes from popular culture in the 2009 American comedy-drama film Up in the Air directed by Jason Reitman and written by Reitman and Sheldon Turner, based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Walter Kirn.

The story is centered on corporate "downsizer" Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) and his travels. There is a scene involving Anna Kendrick as Natalie Keener, an ambitious 23-year-old who has been paired up with Bingham to learn the job, and fellow actor J.K. Simmons who portrays an employee Bingham and Keener must downsize, or fire. In what turns out to be one of the most motivational scenes in the movie, Simmons is processing how he is going to go from earning $90,000 a year to an unemployment check of $250 a week.

Looking at Simmons’ resume, Clooney tells him the downsizing is a wake-up call. It is a reminder for Simmons to go back and pursue the dream of cooking he once had. As Clooney’s character informs Simmons’ character “I see guys who work at the same company for their entire lives; guys exactly like you. They clock in and they clock out; they never have a moment of happiness. You have an opportunity. This is a rebirth. If not for you do it for your children.” Simmons’ character was going through a ‘time of crisis’ and as Dostoevsky observed, such a moment provides an opportunity for growth, for taking a new step, and for speaking a new word.’ If you can find a way through your time of crisis, perhaps that will allow you one step closer to creating the largest version of yourself.

  • How often do you experience disruption?

  • How often are you making choices that allow you to ‘make the largest version of yourself?’

  • If you are not making the largest version of yourself, why do you think that is?

  • When you are going through ‘times of crisis, disruption, or constructive change, how often do you remind yourself such life situations are desirable’ in order to help you become a larger version of yourself?

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