How to get through uncertainty
We're now in the fourth quarter of 2020. As we reflect on the year, where we – and our organizations – are now is likely lightyears away from where we thought we would be in January. The coronavirus pandemic made our initial annual plans irrelevant, dramatically changed our business operations, and is continuing to alter our plans for the future.
Add to that environment a fast-approaching, contentious presidential election and we've got a lot of uncertainty.
Uncertainty weighs heavy on all of us. It's hard to know what to do next when circumstances are changing so quickly. Axios Future writer Bryan Walsh acknowledges that people "are a future-focused species that feels happiest when we think we can plan for and shape our tomorrow. Take that away, and the result can be crippling anxiety."
To help overcome the stress of uncertainty, Walsh has a "guide" using strategic foresight, which requires us to plan for several possible futures and outcomes. I've previously shared a similar sentiment, encouraging fellow leaders to build "What if?" agendas that challenge assumptions, leave you prepared to handle worst-case scenarios, and encourage innovation.
While the future isn't clear, your vision and goals for your organization should be – even if the path you take to get there changes. Walsh discourages people from sticking to the old way of doing things and hoping for the best – you need to be confident in your abilities to deftly guide your organization to a better path.
Doubling down on the willingness to make changes, that sentiment also applies to your new course of action. The decisions we make have consequences, for better or worse, and what you decide today might not be the right choice a month from now. Have backup plans ready so that, when you're presented with new information or circumstances, you're already prepared with alternative options.
What's hard about the situation we're in is that we have no idea when it will end. While the outcome of the presidential election could affect the legislative and regulatory landscapes we operate in, we have a sense of when to expect those changes. The coronavirus pandemic is another beast, with economic and health impacts that we don't fully understand yet.
Throughout the past few months, I've concentrated many of my blog posts on advice to help leaders make decisions, analyze business models, stay focused on strategy, and weather this storm. This guide from Walsh to get through uncertainty will be another invaluable tool as we prepare for anything that is thrown our way.
Although uncertainty remains, I stay confident that we will get through this stronger than we were before.
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