Order Among Chaos

Greg Foster

Audit Partner

December 3, 2018

Those who know me know I typically like order in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I also love surprises (good ones!) and even those situations where things go awry – as long as I can find some humor or irony in the situation. I am definitely a planner, but I’ve made enough trips around the sun to have zero expectation that much of anything will ever go exactly as planned. Nevertheless, I fervently plan. That’s just part of who I am.

I like order, but for the past few years so much of what I observe feels much more like chaos. I look around at our society and culture and see such upheaval. I see distrust and an attitude of hostility towards those who see things different from “my group.” There has been a dramatic and ugly loss of civility in our society. I suspect you share many of these same feelings.

As I deal with that chaos, I also see this shift from order manifesting itself even in the typical orderly and staid world of accounting. Throughout my 33 years in public accounting, I have never before seen a time where there are so many huge, radical changes in fundamental accounting principles – revenue recognition, leases, credit impairment, investment accounting, and so on – all coming to a crescendo and creating significant disruptions in such a relatively short period of time.

I get it! Chaos can be fun and exciting and it can be scary and destructive. I guess it often comes down to how we choose to respond and how the chaos impacts us.

As I think about these sorts of things, I realize I must be getting old. At times I find myself nostalgically longing for the “good ole days” – knowing full well those days were not nearly as good as I now idealistically recall them. I remember as a senior at Vidalia High School having a Guidance Counselor who suggested that perhaps accounting (“whatever that is,” I remember thinking) might be a good career to pursue. So, I followed that advice and took an individual studies bookkeeping course. I loved the order and discipline of accounting (once I figured out what a debit was!) and in just six weeks of that last quarter of my senior year I completed an entire year’s worth of bookkeeping lessons, problems and exams. Of course, that also meant I had about six more weeks of free time, which I mostly spent goofing off and talking to girls, one of whom has been my wife for over 32 years! Anyway, accounting was orderly, it was precise and it was reliable – I loved it!

I love and appreciate being able to spend my career in accounting. However, being this deep into my career and seeing all this chaos around me – both in general and within the accounting world – I do sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed or dismayed. I have learned that when these sorts of thoughts and feelings arise, the best way to deal with them is to look at all of the highly motivated, talented people that surround me at Atlanta accounting and advisory firm, PKM. Where I sometimes see disruption and chaos, they see exciting opportunities to learn and grow and find new ways of serving our clients. Their outlook refreshes my spirit, reinvigorates me and reminds me anew of the good and the opportunities that can thrive in the midst of chaos.

I look around me at our younger professionals excelling in so many things and growing and learning, and I find myself a bit like a “proud Dad.” I am indeed proud of our PKM team of managers, seniors and associates. I am proud of the way they not only embrace, but also seize the opportunities presented by change in order to serve our clients in the best ways possible. I am proud of their enthusiasm and passion. And I am proud of the way they are tackling all these disruptions and creating order among chaos. As I look at our team, and I know our clients are in good hands – and will be for a very long time.