As Dorothy said to Toto in the Wizard of Oz: “I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more.”
The most predictable trend for the year ahead is that 2010 will be unpredictable. Helping others (and yourself) through this “new yet unpredictable normal” will represent a new set of demands on us all.
A few of the most challenging aspects can be addressed by applying what we know about the brain. Here are three ways you can shift your thinking to prepare yourself for the unpredictable future.
Staying Positive Through Uncertainty: Sustained and unpredictable change can significantly impact our mindset and brain states. One recent brain study found that such uncertainty leads to more anxiety, and for many, that can make an experience seem more negative than it actually is. You may have seen this in your own workplace—there seems to be a consistent undertone of negativity, regardless of what is really going on.
- Shift Your Thinking: Make a list of all the positive things you know will NOT change. Even simple routine activities count (e.g., time with family, hobby-related activities, get-togethers with friends, etc.). This can set your mind at ease that not everything is different or negative.
Reality Checks: Plato stated, “nothing endures but change.” Seems obvious, and we know that will be more true than ever in 2010. This state of constant flux may exacerbate the sense of uncertainty, which, as noted above, will often makes things “seem” worse.
In fact, recent research shows that some of us actually will fare better hearing the tough truth rather than being stuck with uncertainty, worrying about what might be. I believe this is true for most of us.
- Shift Your Thinking Do a reality check! Ask the tough questions and seek out as much information as you can, even if is the answers are hard to take or not what you want to hear.
- Many people will hide in denial because they don’t want to deal with the unpleasantness they predict will occur. But in fact, knowing what is ahead allows you to plan and look for alternatives rather than get caught off guard. A warning: Make sure your information is based on real data and facts before you assume the worst. Use the Whole Brain® Model as a guide to make sure you are looking at all perspectives.
Thinking Around Corners: A distinct trend is the need for more strategic thinking. I am hearing managers and leaders across the globe ask how they provide support for this essential need. While true for all functions in the organization, the events that occurred in ’09 make this very critical for the Human Resources professionals who will be facing a broader and more demanding landscape and broad set of needs across all roles – from recruiting and outsourcing to career development to healthcare.
- Shift Your Thinking: Never has scenario-planning been more important! Use your Whole Brain to look at possible scenarios, and rely on your left brain thinking to plan around them. Here are some more tips on the best way to do this process.
The pace of our day-to-day lives keeps us moving so quickly that, more often than not, we may be skimming the surface rather than taking advantage of all of our thinking power and knowledge. The best approach as we prepare for whatever future lies ahead of us in 2010 is to stop and think!