Is uncertainty something new?
Is uncertainty just something that arrived with COVID-19, with the Black Lives Matter protests, and with a disputed presidential election?
Or is uncertainty a given in life? If so, then how do we thrive in its midst?
Our conversation was born from seeing two realities in the midst of uncertainty.
The first reality is the contagion of fear that captured the world as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. Fear born from uncertainty does not go away. It deepens and becomes more pathological. It blocks people’s capacity to see a path towards health and immunity. If your health is already compromised, do things to counter the co-morbidities that threaten your health. Fight the fear of viral infection by changing how you live.
The second reality that we discussed is how businesses adapted to the governmental social orders of shelter-in-place and closure of non-essential businesses. I’ve said it before and will continue to say it, all businesses are essential. They function within a system of organizations in communities. The same is true for schools, places of worship, and fitness and health centers. Some businesses quickly shifted to a pick-up and delivery model. Some figured out how to do that better than others. They creatively looked at the restrictions that were placed on their business and they adapted.
Bill describes how his team adapted. It is an inspiring story. It is testimony to his integrity that he models with his clients. I am happy for you to meet him and hear his story.
Uncertainty comes in many shapes and colors. It hits us all. I personally believe that uncertainty is just another way to talk about transition. If our life and work situations are uncertain … let’s be honest; they always are … we need to look within ourselves to find the certainty we need. It is there. You first have to believe it is. Then you have to go find it, develop it, and build upon it. In doing so, you can become fearless. You may not feel that way now, but in a relatively short period of time, you can find that certainty. This is what Bill and I both help our clients to find. We do it differently, but the goal is the same.
My Thriving in the Midst of Uncertainty
Just so you understand that this is as real for me as it is for you. This is what I’ve gone through this year.
I spent the month of February in Africa speaking and conducting leadership training programs. It was the most fun that I have had in 50 years. I felt that I had found the best market for my leadership work. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. All international travel was canceled. Two trips to Africa were gone. I did a few webinars with folks in Africa. It was clear that this was not going to be the answer. I had to change. Between mid-March and mid-September, I made two decisions that have altered the direction that my life and where my work will take me.
The first was to return to full-time writing. Quickly that led to the realization that people were not in a mindset to read another 200+ page book on leadership.
What did I do? I started a totally different publishing venture. I felt the need to respond to the questions, comments, and stories that people had been telling me over the past two years. The plan is to write five short books every quarter. This short book with Bill Watkins is one of the first five that I wrote during the summer months that Series 1 of The Transition Chronicles. In responding to you, I am responding to your conversation with me about how you are in transition. We all are in transition. But we don’t have a lot of understanding about what this means. You can find find the first here. I’m working on Series 2 as I write this blog post. Four of the next five short books will come from interviews that I have had with a variety of people about topics that are important to them.
After I had begun this new project, I was contacted by a Kenyan publisher who next year will publish an African version of my book, Circle of Impact: Taking Personal Initiative To Ignite Change. I’m very excited. Hopefully, by the time we are ready to publish, I will have the opportunity to return to Africa to conduct training.
The second change I made quickly and quietly. In September I sold my home in Jackson, Wyoming, and moved back to North Carolina to be closer to my family. It was a hard decision because I love Wyoming. It is still in my blood. Always will be. Yet, I realized that I need to be closer to my family as we all go through this time of uncertainty. Even after only a month, my time with my sisters and their families, and my children affirmed the decision to sell and move.
The Source of Certainty
I see people daily who are captivated by fear and doubt about their lives. I understand why. For many, they have subtly been led to believe that the world should be a place of safety and security. When I see a business tell me that their number one goal is my safety, I don’t believe them. In fact, I don’t want that from them. It is a mindset that fits with a perspective that Paul Virilio calls “the administration of fear.” I’d rather see the administration of freedom or hope or love, not fear. And yet, that is what we now have. Let me be clear. I don’t want any business or institution to decide what is safe for me. I will decide. I will respect other people’s perspectives, as I hope they will mine.
If you want certainty in life, you must find it within yourself. It will come from a clarity of mind that says, “I can handle whatever life brings my way.” There are no institutions that can provide you the security that is a substitute for the confidence that comes from within you. Fearlessness comes from certainty about what you believe, what you want, and what you are willing to let go of in order to have the life you want. Combined with humility we can discover how to thrive in the midst of uncertainty.
I encourage you to read Bill and my conversation about Thriving in the Midst of Uncertainty. Please do and share with others because we need you to find the certainty within yourself so that you can make a difference that matters where you live. It is vital for your work, your family, and your community. Join us as persons who refuse to let the fear stop us from being persons of impact in a world that is going through many hard transitions.