Over the past few months there has been a noticeable rise in the levels of anxiety experienced by both individuals and organisations as a whole. Without stating the obvious, this is as a direct result of the increase in uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity within our personal and professional environments. As we emerge from some of the strictures of lockdown, this has paradoxically for many, heightened the sense of volatility and loss of control and can lead to paralysis in decision making and a sense of feeling overwhelmed.
Successful (and long term) managers will often say that learning to live with ambiguity and embracing change has been a key factor in both their longevity and their success. But that of course is easier said than done both in life and in business. It is easy to believe that if only we had some kind of plan or roadmap, we could work our way through to the golden and sunlit uplands of success and certainty. Perhaps one of the only certain things about plans though, is that they will gather electronic dust in forgotten folders on your laptop as the latest round of changes heave over the horizon.
So, what can we do to not just cope with all this, but actively embrace the present and feel a sense of ease and contentment with whatever the future may bring?
Some things never change…
Having talked about change and uncertainty, there are however, some fundamentals in both life and business which rarely change and that is our fundamental set of core values. They may be personal values based around honesty, respect, and integrity, or they may be inherent in your business around value, fairness, inclusivity, service etc. If those values are truly core, then your personal and business behaviours will always be guided by them, no matter what the external environment brings. Living up to those values will of themselves lead to a greater sense of contentment with the present and all the benefits that will bring to you personally and to your business.
What I have ended up working on with clients both private and corporate over the past few months, has often been around a reaffirmation of those core values and establishing that firm ground from which the future can be embraced with a greater sense of vision, clarity and purpose.
Going back to these basics was, for one corporate client, the key to establishing a sense of purpose, excitement and motivation for a new senior team who had hardly any chance to meet in person before lockdown. Discussions were constantly brought back to the core (and agreed) values, leading to focus and impact for both individuals and the business.
For a private client working from home and feeling isolated, re-establishing her core values was central to her regaining her own sense of self-worth and purpose. By concentrating on the present and focusing her daily activities around her own values, she was able to make some key decisions both personally and professionally leading to greater happiness and reduced levels of anxiety.
So, in these uncertain times, do not be afraid of going back to basics and focusing on the present without always trying to predict the future.