The Anti-Butterfly Effect

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The Butterfly Effect, coined by Edward Lorenz – an American scientist that’s known for being one of the pioneers of the Chaos Theory – is derived from the metaphorical example of a hurricane being influenced by the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier.
The general concept of the butterfly theory is that small causes can have large effects.

Thinking about this theory, especially in the context of situations in my life that require discretion or decision making, made me develop my own little theory, I call “The Anti-Butterfly Effect”.

As opposed to the original, the “Anti-Butterfly Effect” says that most of the things that happen to me, shouldn’t affect other things in my life, or change decisions that I made, if they aren’t related to each other.

It’s a simple concept, but one that made me better in almost every aspect of my life.

Here are some examples to demonstrate the theory in my everyday life:

  • I had a bad day at work? I never let it affect the way I enter home and enjoy my family.
  • The meeting at 10:00 went bad? It has nothing to do with the meeting at 13:00, which I have a lot of important decisions to make there.
  • I had a night full of phone calls from work? Doesn’t matter, I have a training program, and I have to get up early for a run.
  • I slept only two hours? My kids still want attention and play with their daddy – and they deserve it!
  • Just got an email that pissed me off. After two seconds, a good friend is calling to consult me about some important issue.

I guess you got it.

Tiredness, anger, stress, and such – are harming our discretion.

BTW, I know it may sound strange, but be careful of positive events, too. Sometimes, they can harm your thinking just as negative events.

Controlling the ability to separate and context switch between situations is a skill for life.
It will improve the decisions you make, it will make you a more relaxed and easygoing person, it will reduce the amount of traps you’ll step into, and it will even make you sleep better.

And the coolest thing? The “Butterfly Effect” works on the “Anti-Butterfly Effect“!
Think about it, and start separating between the events in your life. Don’t mix what doesn’t need to be mixed, and I promise you that you will feel the consequences immediately.

Alon Pakash

 

P.S – Maybe you don’t agree with me, but you’ll definitely agree with him:

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It’s a Trap!

Your actions define you.

Most of them are desirable and essential, a few of them are mistakes.

In some of them, however, you step into the trap.

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What I call a trap is a situation where you do something after you’re completely sure about the consequences of your action, but in reality they are not what you’ve expected.

Before you step into a trap, you are fully aware of what you’re going to do. You gave it a thought, and decided that it’s the right thing to do. You did an assessment of the consequences, and you felt good about them.
Unfortunately you were wrong.

“So what’s the difference between a mistake and a trap?” you must be asking. The difference is in the Thought Process that led you to the action.

A mistake, compared to trap, happens when you don’t think.

A mistake might happen, for instance, when you say something impulsively because you’re angry. (Is there someone in the crowd that it didn’t happen to him? 🙂 )
Or when you simply did something because it’s a habit, and as we all know – habits are stronger than reason.

tricky-traps-game
Tricky Traps. An electric mechanical game from the 80’s.

Traps are tricky. We fall into them everywhere in our lives – at work, at home, with our colleagues, friends, partners and children.

Some of them are small.
Here’s an example: You leave your kid at your friend’s house, to play with his kids. After a few hours, you want to catch up and see if everything is ok. As a caring father, you call your friend. But he’s not answering, so you try a few more times. Finally, after 3 hours, he gets back to you. And what’s the first thing he tells you?
“Why did you have to call so many times? DON’T YOU TRUST ME THAT EVERYTHING IS OK WITH THE KIDS?”

Hmmmm…
Congratulations buddy, that’s a trap. A very tiny one, but a trap.

On the other hand, traps can change your life.
You want to be promoted, so you decide to work very hard. You try to do your best, and you feel that everyone in the office appreciate you. But in the end of the year, you’re not promoted, although you were sure that it’s going to happen. When you talk to your manager, he comes up with a bunch of explanations, but in the bottom line, it doesn’t happen.

That’s a one big trap you fell into, huh?

Some might say that these cases are not traps. That you’ve done nothing wrong, and the problem is not in you but in the other person in the story (or some other guy, or the organization, etc.).
IMHO, blaming other people in things that happen to you is not a productive way of thinking, because you can’t change other people.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I think that the other people in the examples above are 100% OK. Because they don’t!
BUT, my approach says that when the consequences of my actions didn’t match my expectations, it’s my responsibility.
Only if I’ll take responsibility for my actions, I’ll be able to think how I can change their consequences.

So what can you do about it? As I mentioned earlier, it all starts from our Thought Process.

My tip for doing my best to avoid traps is always keep asking myself the following questions:

  • What are the possible negative consequences of my actions?
  • Is there any chance that the results won’t be as I expect? Why?
  • Is there anything I should do to make sure that the consequences would be as I want?

It may sound like every time you think about what you’re going to do, you automatically taking these considerations into account.

But you don’t.

We are all optimists by nature. Asking these questions explicitly will force you to doubt your instinct, and focus on the negative side.
By doing so, you expand the responsibility you take on your actions, and even more important:
You take control.

The next time you fall into a trap, don’t be too hard on yourself.
It happens to the best of us.

Take responsibility on the consequences of your actions.

And keep asking yourself the questions.

Alon Pakash