Balagan is one of those cultural words that everyone knows and nobody remembers learning. The word, deriving from the Turkish and then the Russian word for mess, literally means “disorder and a state of chaos.” Balagan can be used to describe something as small as a messy room to as large as a world catastrophe. However, one can always find a bright spot or some positive outcome; therefore it is frequently implied, when using the word, that things are about to improve. A good example of this would be opening up a storage room to begin cleaning, staring into the disorganized mess, or balagan, and then getting to work. Or, something a little more relatable for Israelis might include a meeting between officers and commanders in the military hearing of a situation and evaluating what a balagan they face, and then tackling every issue head-on.
In the entrepreneurial world, it is known that one will encounter many obstacles along the way. The determining factor lies in the response to each obstacle, and for some reason, Israelis do a very good job at reacting to these road-bumps. It may in fact be that, due to the frequent use of balagan to describe messy and unwanted situations, it gives the situation a lighter meaning so as to mentally simplify the issue at hand. Rather than allowing it to bring you down, to change your perspective of the situation is all that’s needed to avoid the unhealthy amounts of stress often felt in a balagan.
In this whirlwind of a year, it may best be described as just that: a year of balagan. There is so much work to be done on a global scale and even though it sometimes feels as if the world is crumbling beneath us, this balagan can, and will, be overcome. We have been forced to stay home, many jobs have been lost, economies world-wide are struggling, and on top of all of this there are still human rights violations taking place right in front of us. Though none of us are superheroes and can wave a wand to end this, we each have a responsibility to face our balagan-im (plural, balagan) head-on and to simplify visualizing the new orders that can be created.
To me, Balagan is more than anything an opportunity for change and growth.
I encourage you to embrace the balagan in your life, personal or professional. This will enable you to take your perception of a situation as a chaos and reshape it how you envision, into a new order. A better order.
Inbal Arieli is a renowned entrepreneur with over 20 years in the buisness. She has been featured as one of the 100 most influential people in Israeli tech and as one of the top 100 tech business women speakers in the world.