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Managing Uncertainty

The critical task every individual and every organization faces is to prepare for the unknown. We cannot be certain today of tomorrow’s requirements or demands. Circumstances yet to be revealed will deliver enormous impact to our lives. The question is: are you preparing for those moments today?

With forward thinking and a deliberate plan of action, I believe that we can embrace uncertainty, welcoming indefinite conditions as exciting opportunities to grow our personal and professional capabilities. For this to happen, we must be able to change our approach (and often our ingrained patterns of behavior) and do so with both speed and conviction.

Seldom are we able to eliminate all obstacles or ensure success with absolute confidence. In nearly every endeavor, the appropriate objectives are to manage our obstacles and create the greatest likelihood for success.

Uncertainty Unmasked

What does “uncertainty” look like today? What, specifically, are individuals and corporate leaders struggling to discern through fogged telescopes pointed toward the future? Here are some of the more common contributors to sleepless nights and paralyzed planning efforts.

  • The economy – Is it recovering? What will become the “new normal?”
  • Regulations by governmental agencies – Seemingly arbitrary decisions can create enormous intended and unintended consequences.
  • Innovation and technology – What systems do we invest in and adopt? And just how quickly could they become irrelevant?
  • Competition – What known and unknown competitors do we face? How do we win business?
  • Hiring, staffing and training for the future – What talent will we need to hire and develop? How will we find, attract, and retain the right teammates?

On a personal level, we additionally face the uncertainty of:

  • Health issues, for ourselves and our loved ones
  • Financial security
  • Our children, their futures, and the world they will inherit
  • Home values and the cost of ownership
  • Future (or present) employment

Any one of these issues may elicit trepidation. Together, they are nearly impossible to comprehend. Our response to uncertainty may cause us to panic or withdraw, paralyzing forward progress. Because we cannot know, we decide to do nothing, fearing that any attempt to control our circumstances would be wasted, misguided, and uninformed.

I believe we can be proactive, positive, and productive, even when facing the unknown. In fact, we MUST become increasingly capable of managing the uncertainties we face if we are to live a healthy, enjoyable life, serve others, or operate a successful business. Doing nothing or “becoming paralyzed” by the unknown are not viable options. We must be willing and able to ACT.

Into Action

  1. Own your reality. Learn. Understand as much as you can about current conditions and the process affecting future changes.
  2. Get clear on your purpose. Be specific and certain of your purpose, principles, and values. When outside circumstances change, principles and values remain the same. In fact, they will often reveal the proper course of action.
  3. Plan for contingencies. One answer is no longer enough. We need multiple options, depending on outside circumstances and possible developments.
  4. Improve your abilities. It is always the right time to improve yourself. Become stronger, smarter, and more capable. Make “continuous improvement” part of your life and your corporate culture.
  5. Stay flexible. Be willing and able to change, stretch, and move in new directions. Understand the value of mobility, streamlined systems, and the ability to make adjustments to your plans.

Prepare as though the opportunity of your life is imminent, and your life will be abundant with opportunities!

Keep leaning forward,

Dan

  • Dan: What an outstanding post today. Right on target. I forwarded it to many of my direct reports. Keep up the great work.

    Jerry Fralick, Chief Information Officer for the State of North Carolina

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