Source | Fastcompany.com | FAISAL HOQUE
Remember back when “VUCA” (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) only really applied to companies? Those were the days, huh? Lately, with geopolitical discord abroad, political tensions here at home in the U.S., and all manner of policy shifts that could impact U.S. businesses, plenty of entrepreneurs may be wishing for steadier leadership. I know I am.
Once reserved for boardrooms and managerial scenarios, it feels as though VUCA is becoming something of a new normal, impacting leaders and organizations of all sizes, pretty much everywhere. In the opening weeks of Trump’s presidency, the Washington Post‘s Jena MacGregor reported, “Many human resources consultants say the flood of change and news is taking up much more of workers’ energy and focus than in past presidential transitions.” And since the news cycle hasn’t exactly settled down since then, we may just have to get comfortable with that.
We’re now living and operating in a very different world than the one that existed just a year ago. No one really knows what’s coming around the next corner, we’re all operating on uneven footing. Still, business leaders’ jobs haven’t fundamentally changed–we still need to spark creativity, drive innovation, and ensure sustainability. So lately I’ve tried to remind myself that while I can’t predict the future, I can make sure I’m prepared to live in it, make sense of it, and navigate whatever upheavals arise as strategically as possible. And to do that, I keep going back to these three tried-and-true lessons.
Emotions are a natural part of being human, and controlling them doesn’t mean becoming an android. But how well we manage what we’re feeling affects not just our own performance but also our interactions with others. That may sound obvious, but it’s easy to overlook during times of uncertainty.
There’s lots of leadership advice for dealing with self-doubt and anxiety over your own capabilities, but what about pessimism regarding the world out there–the things you can’t control? I’ve found that whenever I’m concentrating on what’s wrong with things happening around me, I’m more liable to fixate on what I find lacking.
It takes a real effort to keep thinking positively when this happens. But personally, I’ve found using affirmations to be helpful for keeping my own objectives in view and coping with things I can’t change. I try to remind myself what I can change–and for the better. I refocus on my immediate sphere of influence, reminding myself that no matter what happens, I still need to work with others to reach our goals.
In good times and bad, I remind myself that holding onto negative emotions won’t help–it’ll just chase away potential collaborators, mentors, partners, and others. This takes effort, practice, and patience, but it’s crucial to cultivating an attitude that attracts support rather than repels it–especially when that’s hard to do.