Chaos + Clarity = Creation

A picture is worth a 1000 words.

If that is the case, what is a 1000 piece puzzle worth? 

Is that before or after we put it together? 

What if that puzzle is what we want to create in our lives? 

Now that I may have your mind in a muddle and “chaos”, let’s explore how we can embrace the creative process and manifest successfully to enrich our lives. 

In order to create anything worthwhile, we have to go through a very interesting process. This process is often not talked about. With that the case, we often stumble unnecessarily through it as some of the steps are opposite to what we have been taught. This article provides a simple yet profound framework and process for creating. By embodying the basic principles, you will be able to manifest successfully in your life.

The creation process will be explored in four stages:

  • Idea
  • Chaos
  • Clarity
  • Creation

To provide a map of the process, think of creating the picture from a puzzle.

The Puzzle

Stage 1: Idea of creation
We look at the unopened box of 1000 piece puzzle with excitement.

Stage 2: Chaos
We empty the box and start turning over the puzzle pieces.

Stage 3: Clarity
All the puzzle pieces are turned over and sorted into groups. (edges, colours, etc.)

Stage 4: Creation
The pieces are put together to form the picture/idea we had at the beginning.


Goal: Have a clear idea of what to create

We have to start somewhere. When we want to manifest something in our lives, we first have an idea of what we want to create. This can take the form of a quality, something tangible or both. For example, I may want more creativity in my life (quality) which may take a variety of forms and/or I may want to write a book about creativity (something tangible). To have a clear idea of what we want to create is an important first step.


Goal: Embrace chaos

“In chaos theory it is true that you can never tell where the system is headed until you’ve observed it over time. Order emerges, but it doesn’t materialize instantly… One of the mysteries of chaos theory is that no one know where order comes from.”
- Margaret Wheatley

Once we know what we want to manifest, we start the messy chaotic process. This stage is often overlooked or a realm of resisted frustration. We are not robotic beings that have a clean process that goes from idea to seamless creation. Instead, we are natural beings that go through expansion and contraction cycles. Chaos is our expansion and clarity is our contraction. To engage and create something new, we have to enter a phase of expansion and venturing into what was previously unknown and not experienced. Even in putting a puzzle together, we have to turn everything over and make numerous attempts and mistakes prior to everything coming together. When we embrace that this is a natural and necessary part of creating something, we go through much less pain and frustration.

Some examples of the natural process of chaos include:

Fractals in Nature:

“Fractals are images of dynamic systems – the pictures of Chaos”
Fractal Foundation

Brain studies:

During the time of “chaos”, we are open to numerous ideas, brainstorming, our environment, patterns and divergent thinking. Much of this is the realm of the right-brain.

Practical Application:

Once an idea is formed, be open to exploring multiple, divergent and “outside of the box” ideas to making it happen. Some techniques to employ include:

  • Brainstorming
  • Mindmapping
  • Visual collaborations/creations - drawing, Pinterest
  • Open discussions
  • Asking questions of various people with different perspectives
  • Open ended questions
  • Engage and re-engage

It is important to note that this is not the time for shutting any ideas down or judgment. The goal is to gather as many ideas, techniques and data input as possible. The time for discernment comes next, in the clarity stage.


Goal: Discern and cull for effective and efficient ways to create

“When people will not weed their own minds, they are apt to be overrun by nettles.”
- Horace Walpole

The next stage of manifesting requires us to take the plethora of data we created in the last stage and discern what is useful. We extract what is realistic and useful and let all the other stuff go. This process is very familiar to me in the process of creating a speech or even writing an article such as this. I have so many ideas, research pieces, stories and “goodies” that to share everything would be an impossibility. Yet, discerning what to keep and what to let go of is often very difficult. It is often said that a seven minute speech is much more difficult than a twenty minute speech.

It is often a ruthless editing and clearing stage. We are not alone, however. Nature also goes through this same process.

Brain studies:

During our toddler years as well as in adolescence, we go through a stage of synaptic or axon “pruning” whereby synapses in the brain are eliminated. The purpose of synaptic pruning is to remove unnecessary neuronal structures from the brain. An outward ramification of this is why it is easier to learn a language young when we are able to assimilate all the sounds before it becomes our regular way as we get older. For more information, Dr. Daniel Siegel explains it in the following video:

It is at this point that we engage in the left brain for the details as well as the executive functioning of the frontal cortex. This is illustrated in the previous video in this article by Iain McGilchrist as well as discussed by Shelley Carson, PhD. According to Dr. Carson, different “brainsets” are utilized in creativity. Some of them that are used in the clarity stage include:

  • Reason mindset (executive centre in the left hemisphere and language production in the left frontal cortex)
  • Evaluate mindset (executive centre, prefrontal lobes, preferential activation of the left hemisphere and relative deactivation in the right hemisphere)

For a fun test and to explore the mindsets in more detail, visit:  

Practical Application:

Exercises and techniques that are useful at this stage include:

  • Pros and cons lists
  • Ask discerning questions such as: What is realistic? What timeframes are needed?
  • Do I have the resources? etc.
  • Play devil’s advocate
  • Create a workable plan
  • Discuss the concrete steps with another trusted colleague
  • Create and recreate prototypes and parts of the creation
  • Practice and fine tune (much like exercising getting better over time)


Now, back to where we started! It is time for the initial idea to manifest and that takes the implementation, dedication, perseverance, and full experiential engagement. It is also interesting to note that this whole process to final outcome can actually go through numerous cycles and the building and re-building of prototypes. For an interesting study, explore the How to Build a Tower study and an amazing group that outperforms most adult categories.

How to Build a Tower Study

While creating and manifesting is often romanticized in our world, it takes a lot of work and continual re-engaging in the process. Keys to success include making mistakes, imperfections, vulnerability and skill-building. What is amazing is how we continually expand and evolve as we create in so many ways.

Practical Application:

Keys to success at this stage include:

  • Build a support system to help keep you motivated
  • Keep returning to your project
  • Allow a circular/spiral process
  • Post visual reinforcements in daily spots (fridge, phone, computer screen)
  • Have an organic structure where you can keep moving but adjust with the environment of life

I wish you much success in your endeavours to create and manifest something in this world. May your puzzle be a beautiful picture.

Cheryl-Dean Thompson is the founder of The Art of Growth Consulting Inc. and she believes in bringing out the creative genius in every person. For more information on her training programs such as Chaos + Clarity = Creation, visit Personal Growth

Posted in Reflections.

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