The ClientWise Blog

Staying Centered and Focused in a VUCA World

Posted by Rebecca Bradley, ClientWise Master Certified Coach on Mar 23, 2020 3:30:26 PM

Yesterday I exhumed a white paper that was published on Leadership Development by the Center for Creative Leadership in 2011 thinking it might be relevant to our current times. Written in the aftermath of the 2008 recession, its message seems even more relevant to our current situation. 

The author, Nick Petriegathered data by interviewing the current literature, Harvard Faculty, and 30 preeminent thought leaders. Here is an excerpt:VUCA

Roland Smith, senior faculty at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) described the new environment as one of perpetual whitewater. His notion of increased turbulence is backed up by an IBM study of over 1,500 CEOs. These CEOs identified their number one concern as the growing complexity of their environments, with the majority of those CEOs saying that their organizations are not equipped to cope with this complexity. This theme was consistent among many of the interviewees in this study, some of whom used the army phrase V.U.C.A. to describe the new environment in which leaders must work:

olatilechange happens rapidly and on a large scale

ncertainthe future cannot be predicted with any precision

omplexchallenges are complicated by many factors and there are few single causes or solutions

mbiguousthere is little clarity on what events mean and what effect they may have

While this white paper is focused on large corporate organizations, I am sure you have been faced with challenges in the past two weeks that result from living in this perpetual whitewater of our increasingly VUCA world…especially in your role as leader for your team, your clients, and your family and loved ones. Here are some questions I’m hearing from my coaching clients:

  • How do I sleep at night, when I am so worried about my business, my family, and our world?
  • Do I share my fears with my team members?
  • How do I quell the fears of my clients and team members, when I can’t give them any definitive answers?
  • How do I stay centered and focused, when my mind is racing and constantly drifting toward “What if…worst case scenarios?”

So, here are 10 tips for keeping yourself centered and focused:

  1. Don’t assume because you are in crisis, you don’t have time for coaching. This may be the very time when your coach can help you most! Share your deepest fears with your coach and work together to help you reframe/release them. 
  2. Keep yourself and your team focused on your “why’s.” “Why are we in this business?” “Why is that important to me personally?” “Why do we need to keep ourselves clear, focused, and relaxed?” When there is clear focus on your purpose, you are more able to lead others (including your clients). 
  3. Do whatever works for you to keep yourself centered/grounded. That may mean increasing your exercise, getting 8 hours of sleep, limiting alcohol intake, having a quiet time in the morning, etc. 
  4. Watch inspiring movies on Leadership at night instead of the panic inducing news feeds. Here are some examples: HoosiersBraveheartMiracleErin BrockovichGloryHarriet Tubmanand :The Blind Side
  5. Watch funny movies when you are feeling down or mentally drained. Here are examples: “Groundhog Day”, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”, “Something About Mary”, “Caddyshack”, National Lampoon’s “Vacation”. Laughter helps clear out Cortisol (the stress hormone) and produces Endorphins, which help us think more clearly and be more creative.  
  6. Read inspirational material every morning like “A Daily Dose of Sanity,” by Alan Cohen.
  7. Acknowledge the fears of your team and your clients as legitimate. Express sincere empathy and allow them to fully express the emotions associated with this time in our lives. This can be a very bonding time for you and your stakeholders if you are authentic and create deep connection with them. Then… 
  8. Co-create solutions for “staying the course” with clients in ways that help you and your firm stay true to your purpose.
  9. Have compassion for yourself and avoid being self-critical. The level of uncertainty and complexity we are being asked to deal with right now are unprecedented. It is normal to feel anxious and overwhelmed. Share those feelings with a trusted family member, colleague, friend, or your coach. Expressing feelings is a healthy way to get them “out of your body.” 
  10. Find things to be grateful for every day. Even in times like these, there are many, if you take the time to look for them. The “frequency” of gratitude is contagious and can help shift people out of fear. Having a daily dinner conversation with your family about 3 things you’re each grateful for can shift things at home as well. 

Whatever happens in the next weeks and months, please know that we, at ClientWise, are here to support you in any way possible. One of the hardest things to do, as a leader, is to have the courage to ask for help. Please put your own oxygen mask on first and take care of yourself in whatever ways make sense for you. And remember, you don’t have to do it alone. 

I invite readers to comment and share their antidotes to living in a VUCA world.

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