Leading in adversity


In the West we tend to search for stability. Stability in our lives, stability at work, stability in our finances.

We see it all around us as we search for a rhythm in our lives. Wake up at 6.30am, get the kids out of bed at 7.15am, breakfast at 7.30am and leave the house at 8.00am.

In work it is about the process: something different happens that we weren’t expecting? Develop a process to cover that situation, so we can ensure we nip it in the bud the next time around.

We seek to find stability in an adverse world and by doing so we seek comfort. We seek to eliminate the stress that comes with unexpected changes.

In the East, they seek to balance the yin and the yang. They understand that life is like a vast ocean, with currents in every direction, moving with the wind or the turning of the planet, bouncing against coastlines and reacting in an endless swirl of possibilities.

They seek balance not stability.

Leading in uncertain times or in the face of adversity means we have to unroot ourselves from the relative stability we have found and strive for balance. I don’t think us in the West will ever be able to free ourselves completely from the search to stability, it is too toughly ingrained in the collective, but we can learn to add balance.

A leader in adverse times needs to seek a balancing position as things are by definition changing. That certainty one had in the immediate future just disappeared.

How do you prepare yourself for something you don’t know is coming?

Well you can’t really, can you?

But what you can do is balance yourself so that next wave doesn’t wash you overboard. Balancing means being ready to react in a way that feels natural. Feeling natural is not always something that comes from the rationale mind, but rather from the gut. You just go with it.

Sometimes you might get knocked off your feet, but instead of lying on the deck and getting thrashed around wondering what went wrong, delving into the post mortems, analysing the differences to your base scenario, you better get up quickly and get ready for the next one. You’ve just learnt from your fall, you felt how the deck moved under your feet. use that knowledge for the next one. React quickly next time.

That my experience in uncertain times. You have to be nimble, try, fail, try again and don’t get blogged down with the ‘why it didn’t work the first time’.

Our world is rapidly changing, in every sphere of business and politics. Times are uncertain. What worked yesterday won’t neccessarily work tomorrow.

It is time to find balance.









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