Finding your yellow brick road

Posting date:04 Sep 2019

With Brexit, the proroguing of parliament, a rogue economy, challenging worldwide economic conditions and so on, we find ourselves trapped in an era that could quite possibly be the epitome of VUCA. That is of course, full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.

I am often asked specifically about how to deal with ambiguity. There isn’t a straightforward answer to this one and it is different for each person in their unique situation. 

I am a very constant person and tend to deal with ambiguity and a changing landscape quite quickly; a recent example of this being that my little boys passport had expired, which we only realised the day of travel (and believe me, there is no 4 hour fix for a new passport for a minor!). I managed to go through the change/grief curve in about half an hour… so this got me thinking. What gives me the ability to work quickly through the daily hurdles and keep focused on the wider landscape with perspective and avoiding going into a spin?

Now, I offer this lightly, but I hope that the following metaphor helps with context, I have my very own ‘yellow brick road’. Stay with me here – there is method to the madness. This yellow brick road of mine is beautiful, it has different stones, it’s wiggly in the wrong places, a few cobbles stick out and it’s far from straight but it reminds me that if you keep due north on your own yellow brick road then maybe you’ll find a way through personal challenges, the current economic downturn and the potential chaos that follows and so on.

While I don’t think that there is one answer, a miracle or a cure to the era of VUCA, there are some things I would recommend that everyone thinks about to stay on track, stay motivated and keep afloat in troubling times.

  • Stay true to your own and your organisation’s values. Know your personal vision, know your corporate vision and understand what guides you north because without this, you’ll likely get lost on the way.
  • Carve out some space to think clearly through the complexity and try to block out the noise around it to stay focused. Work out what the important things are and focus on them. You can’t do everything today. 
  • Work hard to have a growth mindset, not a fixed one. Focus on your positive attributes, not your flaws, find a silver lining in as much as possible and utilise your time to flourish. The world will keep turning, regardless of the economic or political climate... or even an expired passport.
  • Find perspective in everything. It’s vital to step back and see the bigger picture, realise that whatever the situation you are currently faced with, it is likely to be temporary. Control what you can (typically how you respond in any given situation) and where possible, move quickly past the things that you cannot. A Coach is a great way to support you to do this if you are lucky to have access to one. Equally, mindfulness, being in the moment fully and being clear on what you can realistically achieve in one day can help a lot.

So back to Yellow Brick Roads… What does yours look like? Once you know this, when you have a direction, you can’t get lost. Some detours on the way are inevitable but you’ll get where you want to go in the end.

(Obviously, I’m on my way to finding Oz…!)