Are you comfortable with being uncomfortable yet? We’re approaching the start of the third year of the COVID pandemic, and with all its variants, experts are predicting this virus will be around for a long time. We’re learning to cope with the virus by adapting and adopting new, and for many, innovative life and business practices. Yet here we are again in another viral blizzard anticipating Omicron’s peak sometime this month. Events have been postponed or canceled, virtual meetings resumed after a brief respite of in-person meetings, and the endless imposition of masks and the debate over their efficacy continues. I hear and see the fatigue in so many, some overwhelmed and in despair, who are just plain tired of having to live and work in an uncertain environment.
Just how do you gain certainty in this uncertain environment? Start with your mindset. I have no doubt we will defeat this virus. Similarly, I’m sure that someday the brilliant minds in our world will eradicate cancer and all the other killer diseases we co-exist with today. I don’t know when or how, but I am confident man’s ingenuity will make it happen. However, where we gain certainty in one area, our universe will present more uncertainty in another that will impact our lives. That too, I’m certain of! So how do you gain certainty? Use these four techniques to retain a positive mindset and create certainty in your sphere of influence: Believe in yourself, minimize your chaos, manage your time and broaden your perspective.
Believe In Yourself
I was an ROTC cadet in my junior year at Santa Clara University when I went to the U.S. Army’s Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. In three weeks of demanding physical, mental and emotional training, then successfully jumping from an aircraft five times, I was among 70% of my class who earned their wings. Before every jump, I kept repeating to myself, “I can do this,” no matter how frightened I was. As the years passed and my jump experience grew, I enrolled in the master parachutist course. That, too, was three weeks of demanding physical, mental and emotional training, culminating in leading a group of paratroopers through jump protocols. This time, every day, I repeated, “I excel as a paratrooper.” This mindset, one that “I believe I can do it,” instead of “I believe I can’t do it,” is what differentiates the mediocre from the great. If you want to increase certainty in your sphere of influence, believe in yourself.
Minimize Your Chaos
Chaos abounds, and the pandemic exacerbates it. Struggling organizations often fail because chaos goes unchecked. People often fail because they create and allow chaos to surround them. You want to get your mindset right, control your chaos. Establish values and standards you intend to live by. Establish and codify organizational values and work process standards if you’re a company leader. Then live by and enforce these standards in your personal and work environments. We are always looking for clarity to eliminate uncertainty and thereby minimize chaos. If you want to increase certainty in your sphere of influence, reduce the chaos.
Manage Your Time
In coaching CEOs and business owners, I recognize that managing time is one of the top three challenges they face. Time is a precious resource. We literally have only so much time, and often we squander it, both personally and in our businesses. We can’t restore it, and as of now, we can’t regain what we lost. The clock is always ticking. We get so caught up in doing useless things, whether at home or work, then wishing for a do-over! Study after study has shown that failing organizations mismanage time, and this time mismanagement creates chaos! If you want to increase certainty in your sphere of influence, manage your time and that in your organization.
Broaden Your Perspective
Finally, look through several lenses and gain different perspectives. I took a semester of art in my senior year at college, and the professor spent most of her time introducing us to different perspectives. She encouraged us to use other mediums, angles, shades, and paints, and continuously change our view on the images we were creating. Leaders must do the same. Look at where you are leading your team from different perspectives. Various perspectives enhance decision-making and further clarify the problem to be solved. Always broaden your perspective if you want to increase certainty in your sphere of influence.
Speculation is that this once-once-in-a-century pandemic will evolve to an endemic, and humans will have to live with it. Knowing this creates certainty and tempers our mindset to survive and thrive, personally and in business. I’ve been exposed to thousands of leaders within the military and government, facing the most challenging conditions. The very best have several behaviors and attributes in common. It all starts with their mindset: They believe in themselves, expertly bring clarity to chaos, strictly manage their time, and seek multiple perspectives when making decisions. Do you want to thrive in 2022? Then, start with your mindset and create opportunities to grow and excel in your sphere of influence! This is how you lead, think, plan and act. Now let’s get after it.
Retired Col. Paul A. Raggio is co-owner, with his sister Lisa, of One True North INC Leadership and Business Coaching Solutions. Paul and Lisa mentor and coach business owners on leadership and management principles in achieving and sustaining their business growth and profitability goals. He can be reached at [email protected].