Chaotic Calm

You were supposed to be reading something different in this space today.

This was going to be a post about a three-month experiment that I have been conducting in preparation for running in today’s Barcelona Marathon.

Except… the marathon did not happen. The event has been postponed until autumn due to the coronavirus.

Like many of you, I am feeling the effects of this worldwide health emergency, albeit at a slower and quieter pace around my home in the Catalan Pyrenees compared to many other parts of the world.

In such conditions of uncertainty, my life lessons learned from and on rivers continue to teach me about the pursuit of better choices and actions — to remind me of what I can and cannot control.

Navigating a difficult river rapid in a kayak invites increased uncertainty into our immediate surroundings. With powerful and unpredictable forces of energy charging from different directions, the river can drive us into a state of defensiveness that limits an effective response.

What does not serve as a good strategy for navigating chaos is to seek safety through immersion in non-stop and unrestricted noise about the chaos.

There is a tipping point on the spectrum of chaos between more access to more information arriving at faster speeds and better choices that lead to decisive actions. On the wrong side of this tipping point is the belief that we never have enough information about the chaos.

When we let go of the quest for more and faster information, we are better positioned to find calm, which facilitates better choices amidst the chaos.

The quickly-changing nature of a powerful river current — or a global health crisis — is beyond our control.

However, our response is 100% within our control.

Instead of asking, “What more could I know to feel more safe?” maybe we can try, “What could I reduce, lessen, filter out, and simplify to activate a better response?”

With gratitude,


Perform your best at what matters most without compromising your life. Let’s design your simple and clear plan to get you and your team outside of the day-to-day rush of life and bring focus to what truly matters most.



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Joe Jacobi

Joe Jacobi

Olympic Gold Medalist, Performance Coach, & Author helping leaders & teams perform their best without compromising their lives.