These are uncertain times for many organizations and their leaders. Making do with fewer people and other resources has become commonplace. Economic stagnation and natural disasters are only two of the many external factors that create an unprecedented degree of anxiety for leaders and employees alike. Humanergy hasn’t been immune to bumps along the way, though happily we’ve stayed on the (high) road. It does seem that 2011 has been a year of prolonged, multi-issue ambiguity that has caused many leaders to dig deeper than ever to stay on an even keel.
On a personal level, dealing with chronic uncertainty or disquiet creates angst that can affect relationships and productivity. Given that ambiguity and stress are sometimes unavoidable, what’s a person to do?
Use healthy compartments. There are times when you must cram your worries and anxiety into a mental box, slam the door and lock it. This comes more naturally to some, but it is a skill that can be learned with practice. Combine these “compartment” thoughts with a detailed visual – a large vault, perhaps. Visualize yourself bundling up the junk and locking it away. Of course, you can’t walk away from your problems forever, so plan when and how you’ll take them out of the compartment and deal with them.
Practice sh** avoidance. This is a friend’s terminology for not taking on more than you can handle. If work is absolutely nuts, hire someone to clean your house, order takeout and above all, don’t say “yes” to anything that is not necessary. Reduce the noise from anything non-essential, so that you can lower the number of distractions from vital activities. Above all, realize that you have a finite number of things you can do well.
Avoid duplicity. You can say, “I’m fine, really!” from now until the cows come home. But if you’re living in a sea of troubled waters, you are not fine. You are anxious or at least distracted. You should admit it, since everyone around you senses that something is amiss. If you deny reality, you leave others to fill in the gaps with their own assumptions. Those assumptions will almost never be correct – and may give you more complications that you don’t have time to deal with.
Ask for help. Once you’ve fessed up, rally the troops. Hire that dog sitter, delegate more work to others and find a safe person who can be a sounding board. There are people out there waiting to be asked. Just be ready to reciprocate when life throws them a curveball or two.
Practice self-care. Some people like to unwind and forget over a couple of beers. That’s perfectly fine, as long as it doesn’t turn into 6 or 8 or…you get the idea. Strive to treat your body as a temple, giving it rest, nourishing food and exercise. Avoid the all-too-common urge to indulge yourself in food, drink or laziness as a temporary mood improver. Your body and mind will be better off if you practice healthy moderation, especially if you aren’t sleeping well or finding time to exercise as much as you’d like.
Take action. Horace said, “In times of stress, be bold and valiant.” You may not be able to solve your myriad of problems, but you can do something. Move forward strategically, focusing on what you do control about the situation.
When the sheer volume of ambiguity is more than you can handle, take a short break and focus on what’s going right and what is really important. (There is a lot to be grateful for, even in the worst of times.) Try a mindful five minutes. Go outside, notice the sights, sounds and smells. As Lily Tomlin said, “For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”
Want more information on this or other topics? Contact a friendly Humanergist today!
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Ambiguity and uncertainty can be very corrosive to personal relationships, particularly in the workplace. Good leaders will deal with these challenges in a positive and timely manner, to either remove the underlying causes and/or to show how the organisation and its people can take advantage of such an environment with decisive and timely action.The organisation should be flexible enough to deal with personal anxieties in these respects and welcome indications that something needs to be done in individual cases. Too often such concerns are taken as a sign of personal inadequacies where the attention is on the effect and not the cause. For the individual, this may mean only two choices, ” go under ” or ” get out “. This is in no one’s interest.