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A Vote For Uncertainty

by Richard Norris on September 18, 2014

At Crossroad 150x150 A Vote For Uncertainty

A Vote For Uncertainty

At one time or another everyone faces uncertainty. No one is exempt. We can’t run from it; we must face it and embrace it. Only then can we use it for our success and that of those we lead and serve.

Today is a big day here in Scotland. It’s the day of our referendum on independence from the UK. No matter which way the vote goes it will be historic. Various polls put the vote very close between the Yes Campaign and the No Campaign. Each party will tell you they’re in the lead. Down to the last minute there are those who are still yet undecided which way to vote. But the truth is, whether someone is voting Yes or No, they are faced with uncertainty. Before the vote there is uncertainty about what the outcome will be. After the vote, no matter which way someone voted, they will be uncertain about the impact of the vote on their lives for a while to come. No matter the vote, there is still much uncertainty about the future of Scotland. Loads of unknowns.

Big banks and other corporates, as well as individuals, are preparing to flee south to England if the vote is Yes. A No vote will not be maintaining the status quo. It will just bring with it less uncertainty. Uncertainty makes people uncomfortable because it brings us right up against our comfort zones. Our comfort zone is the threshold of change, the threshold of decision and the threshold of progress. Our comfort zone stares out at the unknown and the risks that come with it, just as a child does standing on a pool’s edge questioning whether daddy will catch them or not when they jump. Outside of our comfort zone are many unanswered questions. That can give rise to worry and fear. It can also give rise to curiosity. Outside our comfort zone is the certainty of that which is new. Opportunity knocks and with it the possibility of a fuller, more purposeful and successful life.

What do you do when you are faced with uncertainty?

Until I graduated from university, my life always seemed certain. There was little or no risk – just routine with objectives. Only when I left the cocoon of formal education and entered the career world did my life get uncertain fast. New job. Moving town. Unemployment. Marriage. Moving countries. Changing careers. Start a business etc. I used to think I was risk averse. Turns out I’m not. Whilst I don’t enjoy taking risks, I have learned to live with them and minimize them and/or their effects as much as possible. That said, it helps that my faith helps. Without God, I’m sure I would have fallen apart before now.

Uncertainty is a certainty.

You may not like uncertainty, but it is here to stay. Uncertainty, given full rein can lead to anxiety, fear and even dread. If that perhaps describes your perception of it, then it’s likely because you feel as though you have lost or have no control. But that’s not true. You do. There is always scope to control what you can or are meant to. As for the rest, for me, I’ve learned to let go and let God. But that is still easier said than done.

Uncertainty always presents options. You always have a choice, like the referendum. Some uncertainty we can handle – like the weather. Probably because we know we have no control over it, but we can make adjustments easily for it. Some uncertainty we don’t handle well – like redundancy and unemployment. We can use uncertainty to step up or we can let it abuse us and bury us and our future potential.

One thing I know, like me, you have faced uncertainty before and you are still here. It and any demons of worry and fear have not killed you. You live on to fight on. If you have managed it before, you can do so again…and again. You’ll be okay. It is what it is.You can handle it.

Handling uncertainty is never truly easy. Especially, if you like control, like I do. Control means certainty. Hence control and uncertainty are like oil and water; they don’t mix. As hard as it has been, over my various trials and tribulations, I’ve learned to counter uncertainty with hope, trust, faith and belief. My hope is that things will work out for the better. I trust God is with me and is working out the best for me (because He is and always has). I put my faith in God to hold me up and keep me moving forward even when my knees are shaking and my heart quivering. I believe that all things (even in uncertainty) work together for good for those who love God and are living out His purpose for their lives (See Romans 8:28). I may not know what the future holds but I do know and trust the One who holds the future – yours and mine.

Left long enough uncertainty can lead to fear and that can paralyze us from moving forward. It can lead to procrastination, indecision and regression. We fall back into our comfort zone perhaps never wondering what might have been. We prefer to be ostriches with our heads in the sand. But that is no solution. That won’t lead you to become your best. Uncertainty must be faced down. The risks must be considered. The benefits and concerns clarified in order to better make a decision. When I’ve done that, I eventually find my peace amidst the storm. When I have that, I can then move on.

Another thing that has helped me through my times of questioning has been knowing and staying true to my purpose. I am committed to my growth and living and leading by example. Starting with my kids, how will they handle uncertainty if I don’t show them? As Nancy and I were discussing the other day, the world is seemingly becoming uglier and more uncertain. We were wondering what world have we brought our children into. We are wholly committed to equip our kids with the best of us to give them a strong foundation of faith, character and skills to not only cope, but excel in the face of the future before them.

Ask any successful person and you will discover in their story, time and again, when they triumphed over uncertainty. They used it to succeed and you can too. Next time it rears its ugly head, don’t back up or back down. Step up and embrace uncertainty. Do that and you will definitely make progress in the right direction.

Your Powerplay

Face the uncertainty before you. Step outside your comfort zone into your opportunity to grow.



Adapt Or Die

by Richard Norris on September 15, 2014

Adapt Chameleon 300x200 Adapt Or Die

Adapt Or Die

Our world is constantly changing. Unless we love to struggle, we must adapt to our changing circumstances. If we want to thrive in today’s world, we must adapt. It’s not an option; it’s a necessary skill.

Changing is one thing. Adapting is another. When we change, we can change back. Just think of changing your clothes. When we adapt there is no turning back. Adapting is about survival in the first instance. It’s progressive.

Darwin said it is the animals that can adapt to their environment that will survive. Those who cannot or will not, die. Just with the animal kingdom, if we don’t learn to adapt to our environment, we too can die. Global warming, war in the Middle East, tension in Eastern Europe and global economic instability all represent a changing and uncertain environment.

I’m sure you have personal circumstances which are calling for you to adapt. For example, in our house we have adapted our energy use due to rising prices. We think twice about just hopping in the car to go a short distance. It’s one of the reasons I walk the kids to school 1 1/2 miles. Little adaptations can have a big pay-off. We save money on fuel, wear and tear on the car and the kids get some good exercise to clear and awaken their minds for the school day ahead.

You can be as stubborn as you want, but acting like a mule will not get you where you need to go. I know. I used to be very stubborn (now I’m less so). This perhaps was underlined best when I first got married. My status may have changed, but I did not initially truly adapt to sharing my life with my wife, Nancy. I was selfish. It was my way or the highway. Every time she made a suggestion about how to improve something I was doing or about me, I got defensive. I dug in. I was a jackass! Good thing Nancy never gave up on me. I learned, with her adept help, that maybe there was a better, smarter, quicker way.

How set in your ways are you?

Men, perhaps, more than women (no laughing please) are more likely to be stubborn and resist changing circumstances. We men may think that if we ignore it, the situation will go away. Or we are arrogant enough to believe that it won’t affect us. Or we get ornery because it’s not our idea and we take umbrage. Or…(you fill in the blank).

No matter what, if we want to lead, we must be amongst the first to adapt. If we want to succeed, we must be proactive. Consider the example of driving in a blizzard. If you don’t slow down and adapt to the road conditions it won’t be long before you are in a ditch or worse. That happened to me once. I was in a hurry and thought I could handle it. I did not. Not only was I late but my wallet was lighter from the towing fee.

Some or many people, whether at home, work or elsewhere, just don’t know how to adapt. They may even know they need to, but they are grounded by fear uncertainty or simply lack the skills or know-how. Without a leader and/or a helping hand these people get stuck and can be left behind. In today’s world of disasters and wars, that’s why relief organizations are in their midst. They position themselves to help people adapt. These people cannot change back to the way things were. They must adapt to the way things are and adapt to their new surroundings.

When the change before us is inevitable, resistance is futile. Just like a river changes its course to adapt to the land it runs through, so too must we learn to adapt to our changing circumstances. Yes, we’ll face obstacles. Yes, it won’t be easy. But, it’s better than the alternative. Record manufacturing companies who believed the LP would be around forever, died. They did not adapt with the digital age. A salient lesson.

Learn to bend like a reed rather than snap like a tree.

There have been times when I resisted making changes in my business. Because of fear, too much perceived risk, ignorance, etc. What I learned is that when I resist, it’s often a good indicator that I may need to adapt – my thinking, my way of doing things. Often there is more than one way to get to a desired result. Just like when my kids don’t get an answer from me they want, they never give up. They figure is they take a different approach. They modify. They believe they will eventually get what they want when they do. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. Kids know how to adapt to their circumstances. We would do well to model them sometimes.

Adaptability and flexibility go hand in hand. The more flexible you become the less difficulty you will have. Ever since my swimming days, I work to maintain my flexibility (even more so now that I am older). In sport, if you aren’t flexible, you’ll never perform at your best; you will get injured. The same applies at work or at home. Being flexible often allows you more options some or all of which will get you the desired result.

When I adapted to Nancy’s auditory communication style rather than stick my visual style, our marriage got smoother. More recently, I’ve been more flexible (less task-focused) when helping the kids with their homework. I was pretty rigid until recently. I was trying to teach them from a task and adult perspective. WRONG! That only led to frustration for all. Now I think less about task and more about them – a 6 and 8 year old little person. I’ll get there eventually.

Change is here to stay. Those who live in the past resist change and pay the price. Those who live in the present with an eye on the future have the best capacity to adapt. When they boldly set out to adapt they are on their way to living a fuller and more more fulfilling life.

Your Powerplay

Identify one area where you need to adapt your approach. Take the first step(s) toward your better future.



Isn’t It About Time For A Change?

September 11, 2014

Isn’t It About Time For A Change? Today, change is everywhere. Some change we can cope with and some we can’t. We may like it or you may not, but sometimes we need to change simply for our own good. I like variety and I like routine. Some would think the two don’t mix, but […]

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