Do you find it challenging when things are unpredictable? Learn from my experience.
My first role as a Finance Director came during the previous economic crisis. The business was dependent on discretionary spend; clients were nervous and spend was contracting. We had to make redundancies, and we didn’t have an HR department or legal team.
I was new in the role, still proving myself and was immediately under much pressure, having to make sensitive staffing decisions, leading redundancy meetings and drafting the relevant agreements, most of which was entirely new for me.
I was thrown in at the deep end with much uncertainty. We needed to make a significant change, and I had to drive it through.
While it was challenging, stressful and took me out of my comfort zone, I learnt a lot. I learnt more during those six months of uncertainty than in the two years following.
Change and uncertainty are inevitable. It will happen. It is part of business; it is part of life. The next time you face uncertainty and things don’t go as expected, what can do you to manage whatever life throws at you?
Don’t fight it, embrace it.
Ask yourself, what can I learn from it? See it as an opportunity to learn and grow as a person. When we are unsure about something, we often spend so much time and energy focusing on what may go wrong and worrying about the possible repercussions of not getting it right. This negative focus is more likely to lead to a negative outcome. However, by focusing more on what we can learn, we are more likely to be open to new ideas, we are more likely to enjoy the process, which in turn is expected to result in more creative and better solutions to the problem.
Focus on what you can control – our struggle with uncertainty often arises due to things being out of our control. By getting clarity on what you can manage in the short term, and acting on it, will help you move forward and reduce the level of uncertainty that you are experiencing.
An excellent example of this might be when you are presenting your boss. Yes, you can’t control exactly how they will react to what you say, what you present, however, what you can control is that you are as well as prepared as you can be for any objections that you might encounter. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be and subsequently, the more comfortable you are likely to be with whatever uncertainty remains.
Uncertainty is something that many of us struggle with, however, by accepting it, seeking out the learnings and focusing on what you can control, you will be in a better position to deal with it as and when it arises.
Tony Shafar is a qualified accountant and executive and business coach.