Opening New Frontiers: Exploring Chaos in Life/Work

Opening New Frontiers –
Exploring Chaos in Life/Work
Clarence De Schiffart & Laurie Edwards
January 27, 2013
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"May my mind come alive today to the invisible
geography that invites me to new frontiers.”
John O'Donahue
Chaos Theory
Does anyone know about the Butterfly Effect?
Faces of Career Development
YouTube Video
Small group activity:
The Potential Impact of
Chaos in Your Life
Write an unexpected life event on one side of the
On the other side, write how that event
contributed to your life/work situation
Chaos in Life/Work
Share a your “chaos story” and
the impact it had on your life in a
small group…
What was it like for you at
the time? Looking back now?
What did you experience
(thoughts, emotions)?
What got you through it?
(c) Clarence De Schiffart 2012
In small groups discuss…
As a Career Practitioner, what is it like to work
with people who…
 Appear to have lost their way?
 Seem confused about life options?
 Do not seem to have a direction in
their life/work?
Chaos Theory Helps Deals With Complexity in the World
• Our Human Complexity?
 our minds, bodies, social
networks, past history, and other
• Our Goal as CDP?
 Help people understand these
(c) Clarence De Schiffart 2012
“Factors” within Chaos Theory
Our careers are:
Subject to chance events 
Subject to non-linear change
sometimes small steps have profound outcomes
sometimes changing everything changes nothing
most people express a degree of surprise/delight or
disappointment at where they ended up.
In small groups respond to:
What is the impact of knowing these “factors” (chaos theory) on a
person’s capacity to intentionally navigate their career decision
e.g. predictability of the future
The NHL lockout
Great fruit season in Annapolis Valley NS, very poor one in
southern ON
Winning the lottery
The loss of a father/mothers job
Additional “Factors” within Chaos Theory
Our careers are:
Subject to continual change.
Sometimes we experience slow shift that results in us drifting off
course without realizing it,
Sometimes our careers have dramatic (fast shift) changes which
completely turn our world upside down.
“We take shape and exhibit self-similar patterns, trajectories,
traits, narratives, preoccupations over time & we are too complex
to be easily captured and put into simple boxes, interest or
personality codes”.
Non-linear Career Events
Example: A person is not sick for 5 years and then
misses one day. An important and urgent meeting takes
place and s/he is not chosen for a team taking the lead on
a new project.
Example: Person goes to a conference and has a chance
meeting with a famous keynote speaker.
(c) Clarence De Schiffart 2012
Where Will You Be?
YouTube video
The Ping Pong Balls and Puppies
Scenario 1: in a room with a ping pong ball .. Drop it
and what can you predict?
Scenario 2: add an electric fan and a eager ball chasing
puppy is chasing you? What can you predict?
Scenario 3: add a pack of eager puppies, a series of
electric fans, an open window with a howling gale and
you are now running on an electric treadmill that is
programmed to randomly change speed.
(c) Clarence De Schiffart 2012
The Ping Pong Balls and Puppies
Making long term predictions with Scenario 3 is
Careers are influenced by parents, social and
environmental context, gender, age, political and
economic climate, interests, abilities, geography, and
many other events
(c) Clarence De Schiffart 2012
Chaos Theory of Careers
World Factors
Speed of technology
Reshaping of organizations
Speed and extent of change
Need of life long learning
Globalization of both consumer and labour markets
Increasing contractual nature of work
Rapidity of technology innovation and its adaptation
(c) Clarence De Schiffart 2012
Implications on Career
Shift Happens YouTube video
Life/Work Implications
Look at each person’s entirety and then help them
understand the patterns and processes in his/her
life. Orient client expectations.
Try not to "narrow down" conversations to only “career-
related” (work) topics. Bring in the holistic life/work
blend discussion.
Make use of qualitative approaches by using narrative,
analogy, and metaphor – creating meaning for the
person at their present stage of being and
understanding .
(c) Clarence De Schiffart 2012
Life/Work Implications
Help people make sense of their past behavior and the
unpredictable nature of a range of influences from
the past.
Help people understand and accept the finite limits of
our human understanding -- accept that all knowledge
is open to doubt and revision and open to different
interpretations from different perspectives
Norm Amundson’s books on Counselling. In particular, Active
Engagement, Metaphor Making and The Physics of Living
The Complexity Perception Index
Chaos Theory of Careers, Jim Bright
For additional information or comments
Laurie Edwards
[email protected]
Clarence DeSchiffart
[email protected]
(c) Clarence De Schiffart 2012

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