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Finding Direction In Chaos

There hasn’t been a time in my life when the world has felt more uncertain.  Being raised in Sweden and emigrating to New Zealand, I readily acknowledge that this has a lot to do with the fact I’ve enjoyed a fortunate and rather sheltered life.  Never being exposed to the devastations of war, mass illness or the political and civil unrest that has plagued, and continues to plague, many countries over the years.

I would contend this is a truism for many Kiwis.  For many of us, we live in the age of unpredictability, we live inside days that offer us no insight or clue as to what lies ahead for the rest of the week.  We’re hamstrung when it comes to making simple decisions that would carve out the road ahead for the next period of life:  nobody can answer, “When can I go and visit my family member overseas?”, “What will happen with the economy?”, “Will we get sick?” are the kinds of questions we simply weren’t asking ourselves 4 months ago.

It is okay to be uncomfortable with that.

As human beings, we love certainty; in fact, we need it. We crave it.  Not knowing what happens next makes it hard to make a series of decisions, or even intuit what a series of upcoming decisions may be.  This extends to businesses also – the level of uncertainty that we are dealing with will undoubtedly impact the way you operate, the way you see yourself, and the way others see you operate. 

It is okay to be unsure.  And it is okay to ask for help.

Common questions we’ve been hearing recently run along the lines of, “Should I employ this person if my revenue reduces?”, “Should I make this person redundant?”, “Is this office space still the right place to be for our team if COVID returns?”, “should I still invest in the growth plans I had at the start of the year”.  More often than not, there’s very little in the way of a roadmap or recommendation for the way forward.

That said, I must say, it has been great to see so many business leaders are tackling these questions head on, asking the right questions of themselves, even if they are really hard questions to ask (and even harder to answer).

It can be confusing, at best, to distill all these questions and try to navigate through the challenges.

So here are some quick tips to help you with your decision making over the next period:

  1. Be prepared.  Most importantly, continue to be prepared for change.  Don’t fall into the “all is well” trap, thinking things will simply revert back to normal. By setting the wrong expectation, it’s easy to become disappointed so staying realistic and being prepared for good and bad scenarios will help you to navigate them, should they arise.
  2. Be open.  Keep communicating and be open with your team and those around you.  Now is not the time to censor your messaging or to shelter your team from what is going on. If there are risks involved in your businesses in the future, it’s better to be honest about these early and work together to identify any further risks and mitigation strategies.
  3. Be flexible – Don’t become too rigid in your decision making. Keep a flexible mindset, embrace opportunities, and look for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.