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“What got you here won’t get you there” …. managing in times of change and uncertainty

The pace of change in our lives is fast and accelerating. This is coupled to impermanence und uncertainty. There are ever-increasing demands on our time and attention, our most valuable and scarcest resource.

Now, perhaps more than ever, being both self- aware and situationally-aware supports us in dealing with this complexity. According to Dweck, “this is a time of tremendous change where you’re going to have periods of confusion. You’re going to turn into a novice over and over again. And we need to be comfortable with effort, struggle and confusion.”

Some of the biggest challenges currently are:

· Managing attention

· Thriving in complexity

· Making decisions in complexity

Managing attention

Forget time management. Attention management is the better path to focus and productivity.

How often do you multi-task, trying to get everything done within the limited time available and feel like you are racing in a hamster wheel? How often have you left the home wondering if you locked the front door? How do you manage your attention, focus and concentration?

In our VUCA times, slowing down, and focusing our attention on what is really important is required. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

Thriving in complexity

It requires us to understand and address complexity and change (volatility) rationally. And engage and address ambiguity and uncertainty emotionally. We can do this through reflection, curiosity and humility. And also by challenging our assumptions and mental models and by seeing the bigger picture.

Moreover, community and connection, offering support, encouragement, belonging, acceptance and psychological safety, as well as dialogue, collaboration, coaching and mentoring will also help us thrive in complex situations. We’re not alone, and a supportive community, be it professionally or in the personal environment, can help us reflect and find our best path forward.

Decision making complexity: controlling the "controllables"

All our knowledge is about the past, and all our decisions are about the future. How do we make decisions in a complex situation when there is no “right” answer?

It’s good to start with the fundamentals of good decision-making, including

● Define the problem clearly

● Identify decision maker(s)

● Engage stakeholders to understand their goals, concerns, and perspectives

● Be alert to, and monitor for cognitive bias and heuristics: confirmation bias, availability, etc.

● Consider consequences of decisions

● Communicate decisions and rationale clearly when made

● Monitor outcomes and update people as things change or evolve

● Focus on good process

● Seek diverse and divergent perspectives

● Choose a direction rather than a destination

There are many outcomes that we can’t control. The higher the ambiguity and uncertainty, the less the chances to control the outcome. They are subject to factors that are unknown, changing, and often outside our control. What is important is to be self- aware and situationally-aware, remain flexible, know our values, keep learning, enjoy a challenge, and learn to tolerate ambiguity. In the end there are no certain answers.

The world is in a state of profound turbulence. There can be no doubt that these times are a bit overwhelming and somewhat disturbing. However, we are living now and have to learn to live with the situation and lead in it. We need to get going with building a world that we want for ourselves and future generations. How to you want to live and lead into the future? What will it take for you to stand strong when the storm is over? What legacy do you want to leave?

Interested and keen to explore this further? I work with people who want to have a significant impact, live joyful lives, and build a sustainable future. If you’re feeling like you want to manage the stress and uncertainties surrounding you better, but are uncertain exactly how to go about this, get in contact with me. You might find some benefit in us working together.

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