By Emily Nicholson
The world is moving faster than ever. What’s always worked for you – whether that’s at home or at work – may be out of date soon (if it isn’t already). VUCA – which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (originally a term coined by the US Military) – is something that’s entered the world of work and taken over. Many of us find ourselves needing to make decisions at work when we don’t have all the information (uncertainty), and we’re not sure that the information we do have will be relevant going forward (ambiguity). The levels of information we give, receive and have access to increases all the time. For example, according to a blog on MicroFocus.com, by 2021 there will be an estimated to 319.6 billion emails sent – every day! And 44 billion GB of new data was created daily in 2016. Additionally, everything from markets to customer needs to industry changes to tempers can be – well – volatile! What’s the secret to managing huge amounts of change whilst still being productive as a leader in your day job?
The key here is that most of us don’t love change. We hate it. Or we tolerate it; a person I was speaking with today told me, “Only pain produces change.” The truth is that most of us are resilient – the question is, are we resilient enough?
If you want to be a dinosaur, the plan of action is simple: just continue doing what you’ve always done. Whatever worked yesterday is likely to be out of date soon, and according to AchieveForum’s own research, we must increase our adaptability and our appetite for change so that we can be resilient. But how?
James Altucher is an author, businessman, and podcaster who has made millions of dollars in start-ups, only to lose everything – and then gain it back again. One of his ideas is to become what he calls “an idea machine.” He’s started a habit where he writes down 10 new ideas a day. He admits that at the beginning, “…most of them will be terrible. You’ll probably never look at them again. But when you do it enough times, all of a sudden your brain starts getting into the habit of thinking up new ideas, until one day it actually comes up with a good one. And then another. And so on.” According to his website, James says that ever since he decided to become an idea machine, his life has changed 100% – and continues to do so every six months, for the better.
Could the key to handling VUCA and building resilience be that we reinvent ourselves at a faster pace than change requires? What old habits can we shed, what ways of thinking can we give away, dispose of our recycle, and what new horizons could we explore if we only allowed ourselves time and structure to think new thoughts? Clearly this is one of the biggest challenges in today’s world – when do we allow ourselves time to ponder, to think, to consider, to invent – to reinvent? Do we schedule time to think of new possibilities (the way James Altucher describes it, as a disciplined habit)? There are so many things we already do each day! Some of these things are required (like going to work or getting the car serviced) and some things tend to creep in (like posting on Instagram or binge-watching Netflix) – but could the simple task of making our mind do something new help us outrun the VUCA challenges we face?
What strategies, tactics or ideas are you using to reinvent yourself or build resilience?