How do you strike a balance between managing the difficult business issues facing your firm right now and predicting the uncertainties of tomorrow?
A key challenge for organizations today is that the business environment has become more ambiguous, complex and uncertain. Companies are beginning to realize that short-term fixes don’t serve them well for the future and are instead placing more focus on contingency planning for the time ahead. Yet it’s important to strike a balance between putting out immediate fires and sensing into what is yet to come. To do this, you’re going to need to engage both your head and your heart along with one other body part.
I wish I could remember where; but I read a blog some years back that classified leaders into three categories: “Head-only”; “Heart-only” and “Gut-only” (by the way, that’s the other “body part”).
The author suggested that Head-only leaders focus on current results, relying on their rationale and diagnostic tools to make decisions. This presents a challenge of balancing paradoxes however. Heart-only leaders open themselves to a wide range of views – maybe too wide – as they tend to hinder their ability to identify future trends. And Gut-only leaders work on conviction and instinct which is a problem if their sense about the future is wrong.
The obvious solution is to draw from the strengths in all three categories – especially given the unknowns we experience in business today. But with the unknown comes some fear; with uncertainty comes apprehension. So how do we honor both the servant and the gift?
Learn to embrace the unknown by challenging your assumptions. Let go of old stories. The past does not necessarily inform the future. Accept that you do not know for certain and be okay with that. Don’t be so arrogant that you think you know the answer – have the winning solution – or are selling the right product.
Like the shifting wind, variables are constantly changing and if the wind has shifted, it’s likely you need an adjustment on the sail – or perhaps no sail at all. You need to be adaptive – moving in and out of the known and the unknowns, tacking accordingly as you release what you think you comprehend (head); remain open to what is possible (heart) and trust your sense about what is emerging (gut).
The bottom line is this: The only thing we truly have control over is our very next thought.
- So learn to be present. Query apprehension.
- Aspire to accept uncertainty and embrace the unknown. Trust.
- Place your focus on both short and long term issues.
- And be at peace with “I don’t know”.
Use your head, heart and gut to create the conditions to authentically understand current reality – all of the elements and factors internally, externally and multidimensional that are present to interact with now. Operating from that awareness – from that wholeness – will point you in the right direction.
Image: John Hain via Pixabay