Boo! What is it about Halloween that inspires people to WANT to be scared or spooked just for sport? All month long people flock to haunted houses, amusement parks, and decorate their homes with ghosts, goblins, and skeletons. Even our three and a half year old has been running around the house yelling, “SKELETONS” in a deep voice for weeks. We have no idea where he learned this very funny stunt. All of this pretend-scary fun has me evaluating what it is that really has us scared.
For me, the unknown is terrifying. From health concerns to performance reviews to end of year company projections, I just want to know:
- How will it turn out?
- What’s next?
- When can I make a plan?
- What do I need to prepare myself or others to expect? When I feel out of control,
I am filled with dread and a sense of fear. My active imagination can get the best of me and I “horribilize” the situation. My husband and I coined this phrase, “horribilize,” to describe my ability to daydream in a negative direction in stressful situations. The challenge is that I cannot escape the feeling of uncertainty. Things will never be certain. I am not in control despite my attempts to craft the most perfect plan or beautiful to-do list.
I’m not alone in my fear; in the 1990’s a military term was coined to describe the swiftness of change and expanded complexity of today’s world. VUCA, represents the concepts in environments that are Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. Like a hit song, this term jumped the charts from military vernacular into the business world. In The Center for Creative Leadership’s article, Future Trends in Leadership Development makes the case that we need to accept the state of the “new normal” and equip ourselves and develop others with the capacity to thrive in new, more complex and turbulent environments. VUCA can be defined further as:
Volatile– Change happens rapidly and on a large scale
Uncertain– The future cannot be predicted with any precision
Complex-Challenges are complicated by many factors and there are few single causes or solutions
Ambiguous-There is little clarity on what events mean and what effect they may have
The complexity of life and business will only get more complicated and we must learn to handle and lead in the unknown.
What can I do to become more capable in this new reality of life and business? I can:
- Ground myself in a vision for my future and connect to my organization’s vision so that when the road gets bumpy, I know where I’m headed and can stay on course
- Discover my personal core values and then focus on these guiding principles to help me make challenging decisions
- Exercise my brain’s ability to synthesize complex information and make decisions quickly
- Surround myself with people that will challenge me to stretch and give me feedback on how I am handling new information
- Practice flexibility when situations do not unfold how I expected they would
- Enjoy the ride and teach my son how cool it sounds to scream “skeletons” into an empty paper towel roll. SKELETONS!