We Determine The Outcome Of Any Action Or Situation

The human element (you and I) determines the outcome of any action or situation. The world is not a safe place, and I’m not referring to natural disasters or terrorism. I’m talking about human error that changes or destroys lives everyday.


Everyone of us is touched or affected by the decisions or actions of others. Maybe it’s an incorrect dose of medication given during a routine medical procedure, or just stepping on the gas and speeding through a red light. Many people are harmed every day as a result of the errors we make.

Daily life in our complex world is all about us (people); it’s not about technology. Everything we use, whether technology (tools, machines, equipment, etc.) or systems (training, processes, procedures, etc.) is controlled, influenced and/or operated by us (people). Therefore, our performance determines how well the technology and systems will work, and how safe and effective we will be.

From the error of a moment, comes the sorrow of a lifetime  ~Chinese proverb

How do your decisions affect the actions of others? How can you improve your performance?

How Do We Control Chaos?

Performance is reality. And in uncertain and turbulent times how we perform makes all the difference between success, and sometimes death or injury. Performance is about task, accuracy, speed, and accomplishment. It’s the connection between actions and goals, and having a sense of what matters to you most gets you closer to accomplishing your goals. Performance is about “getting things done.”

Gulfstream Hotel fire mural in exercise room at PBCFR Station 91.

Gulfstream Hotel fire mural in exercise room at PBCFR Station 91.

Here are some nuggets on improving performance through leadership and understanding the human element.

There is nothing in this world constant, but inconstancy. ~Jonathan Swift

The world isn’t what it used to be:

There is less stability.
There is more technology, and it grows faster every day.
There are more demands and expectations.
There is less job security and more worker demand for “empowerment.”
There is more complexity.
There is more danger.

We face awesome challenges in our chaotic and constantly changing world, and it will continue at a rapid rate. As world demands and instability increase, it’s clear that the current complexity and danger is not going away. Change will continue to be the only constant.

There is a call to arms by many for better performance everywhere, all the time. It’s time we improve individual, team, and organizational performance. It’s time we start controlling chaos.

We may not control the outcome, but we can control the input – our effort. ~UCLA Basketball Coach, John Wooden

Our world and our work demands that we have an acute awareness of what’s happening, the ability to adapt to changing situations, and the skill and will to make critical decisions, and fast! We have to design and implement ways to help control the chaos of information, time, and space in today’s complex world.

What Is Chaos?

Chaos can be defined as complete disorder and confusion, or behavior so unpredictable so as to appear random, owing to great sensitivity to small changes in conditions. It usually carries a negative connotation involving undesirable disorganization or confusion.

How Do We Control Chaos?

We control chaos by becoming thinking and adapting leaders. We learn to transform unproductive confusion and disorder into controllable challenges. We study, practice and build the following:

  • Our Human-ability beginning with what’s happening above and below our neck (the mind-body link and stress) and personal “error control center”
  • Our Sense-ability by overcoming our blind side and learning to believe what we’re seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting
  • Our Think-ability by making sense of the information at hand and developing a TEMPO to move at the speed of the decision needed
  • Our Team-ability by physically conditioning and our preparing ourselves, and strengthening our mental stamina and support of each other

Learn to use use all of these abilities to plan your work and adjust to shifting priorities and demands, and you will be able to bring order to chaos.

What are you doing to control chaos?

I'm teaching Controlling Chaos at The Great Florida Fire School

  • Date: November 7, 2012
  • Time: 8am to 12pm
  • Event: The Great Florida Fire School 2012
  • Topic: Controlling Chaos: Making Critical Life and Death Decisions
  • Where: Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex at Indian River State College
  • Location: Ft. Pierce, Florida
  • Registration: Click here to register.
  • More info: Click here for more info.

Chaos is complete disorder and confusion, creating unpredictable behavior that typically leads to undesirable outcomes.  This course will address how firefighters should control the flow and change of complex and dangerous situations.  The firefighter needs an acute sense of awareness, the ability to adapt to changing situations and the skill and timing to make critical decisions fast.  This course explores how the mind and body linked together performs under stress and delivers practical, actionable advice for controlling and surviving complicated and chaotic events.

Using case studies and dramatic video of real emergencies, this course will challenge you with thought exercises and tactical decision games.  You will learn fast, effective tools to help transform unproductive disorder into controllable and manageable events at the emergency scene.  This program is relevant to all operational positions.

Controlling Chaos Page