Dealing with Uncertainty

By , May 24, 2011 12:01 pm

“Intuition is not a single way of knowing – it’s our ability to hold space for uncertainty and our willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge and insight, including instinct, experience, faith, and reason.”

Brené Brown, Author and leading expert on shame, authenticity and belonging.

Two of the large corporate organisations I’m working for are currently going through big transitions. One of them has merged with another company. Another is working through a merger of internal business units. Both are working through due diligence exercises and looking for ways to remove duplication in roles and working processes.

It’s interesting to observe the different view points of people working in this uncertain environment as the organisation revises it’s business strategy and re-structures. Some people see the ‘opportunities’ others bury their heads and just hope that they ‘survive’.

Senior executives may not fully know how things will be changed yet or who, if anyone, will be laid off. All they can communicate with certainty is the end goal. The fog of uncertainty shrouds the work environment while key people run the numbers and look at working practices to gather data to make the final decisions.

Human beings like certainty. Most of us aren’t very good at not knowing.

We crave for the facts, guarantees, assurances and can become anxious if we don’t have enough information. We often look externally for this source and ignore our own intuition. Instead of listening to a strong message from our inner voice we’ll go and get a second or third opinion from others because we don’t trust our own knowing.We ignore our gut feeling and instead become wrapped up in the uncertainty and not knowing.This fills us with fear and worry.

If you’re stuck in the dis-comfort of not knowing it can be easier just to make a quick decision to get it over with. This might be a decision you regret later.

Using your inner wisdom as a guide can be really helpful in uncertain situations. The key is to take time out to really listen to it…

Intuition isn’t just about getting THE ANSWER from a voice within! Yes, sometimes you’ll have a clear gut instinct about something, other times you listen you can tap into your inner wisdom and it will guide you to take logical steps, check things out and to fact-find. It might even advise you that now is not the time to make a decision.

Here are a few ways to deal with uncertainty:

1. Listen to your intuition – What is it telling you? Are you being steered to fact-finding or is it telling you what you need to know? Tap into your inner wisdom. Listen to your deeper voice. Use this as a tool to help guide you.

2.What do YOU want? Sometimes when things are uncertain we forget that we always have a choice. What do you want to happen? What is important to you here?

3. What can you influence? Consider what is in your circle of influence that you can do. It might be becoming more involved in the process fact finding and even become involved in shaping the outcome. Look for any opportunities that might present themselves. Take one logical step at a time.

4. It’s okay NOT to know – Sometimes it’s okay to recognise that for now, you’re not going to know the answer. Set yourself short term goals and focus your attention and energy there. Review the situation in a month (Re-check in with the bullets on this post!)

5. Do a GREAT job – Focus on business as usual and look for oportunities to continue to do a great job. Consider your own marketability and leverage – What do you have to offer here? How can you play to your strengths to really make a difference in the short term. Look for solutions – don’t dwell on the problem or get sucked into whining, moaning or colluding about how bad everything is!

4 Responses to “Dealing with Uncertainty”

  1. Ursula says:

    Elaine, this is wonderful! During restructuring, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by all the change, and the feeling that you have no control over what happens to you. You’ve beautifully shown how you can step back and see the situation as an opportunity.

  2. Tammy Vitale says:

    Elaine – on the nose! I think you covered it all! In the past I was an expert at that “quick decision and get it over with.” I’m slower now – but I think my intuition is pretty good because my first reaction is usually my best (and I know it, and I STILL don’t always listen). Great reminders of how to live in the world. Thanks!

  3. elaine says:

    Thanks Ursula – You’re right it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by all the change. It’s sometimes hard to see that you have choices.

  4. elaine says:

    Hey Tammy thanks for stopping by! It’s interesting how for many of us, our intuition is the quiet voice that gets ignored.

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