Leadership & The Importance of Confusion

con-fu-sion [kuhn-fyoo-zhuhn] “a state of disorder; upheaval or chaos.”

When I read the definition of confusion I think to myself, “I’m pretty sure I don’t like confusion.” In fact, I prefer some semblance of order and enjoy calm vs chaos. That being said, I’m not a spreadsheet person and I don’t have a list for everything, okay, anything.

Intentional Confusion

So, why is confusion something to be embraced as a leader. Or, in this case, why should we practice confusion with intentionality?

My answer is pretty simple, it helps us to be better leaders. Think back to a time when you were confused. What were you feeling? What were you thinking? What were you doing?

As I think back to confusing times or situations I don't think to myself, “Wow, how awesome is this! I get to be confused today!” However, when I am confused I listen better and I am more focused than when everything is going smoothly.

When life is going “neatly and in order” I am more relaxed mentally, I listen when I want to and generally coast through my day. Of course we need these times to recover from chaotic situations but practicing intentional confusion put us in a unique position to learn a few things.

Below is a list of what I typically feel or do when I approach situations with intentional confusion and when things are moving along “neatly and in order.”

When I am Confused

  • I listen intently          
  • I ask questions                    
  • I take notes                
  • I am inquisitive
  • I am passionate  

When Things Are “Neat and in Order”

  • I can talk a lot
  • I can be opinionated
  • I give advice
  • I can be indifferent
  • I move toward apathy

Freshly Confused

When we choose intentional confusion toward a topic or situation we have repeatedly encountered in the past we alter our involvement in it. We approach it with more curiosity.

We approach the moment with an inquisitive mind not a stagnant one. We are freshly confused and are looking for something new, relevant, interesting an unique! We approach with an open mind, open heart and an open hand.

Practicing intentional confusion is a humbling proposition but will return great rewards for the leader who embraces the concept.


Photo Credit: shutterstock.com Image ID: 458586442 c Cegli