Monday, December 5, 2011

"The New Normal"

from business consultant Morrie Shechtman's October newsletter:

"The New Normal – Unending Unpredictability" For  a number of years now, I've heard people talking about how unpredictable  business has become; with the implied assumption that one of these days, the  unpredictability will finally end, or at least, level off, and we'll return to  a generally predictable environment.   Well, from everything I see and experience, that ain't ever going to  happen.  Unpredictability is here to  stay, and the implications are sobering. First  and foremost, is the fact that we have unequivocally entered the Age of  Self-Doubt.  I have never, in my  professional life, worked with and encountered so many talented, highly  skilled, and successful people, who are haunted by self-doubt.  People, who prior to these times, made one  decision after another, with a great sense of clarity and certainty, now  second-guessing almost everything they do.   Everyone,  at times, has some doubts; but now the experience seems to have become endemic  and epidemic.  It has become a part of our  daily lives and our ongoing personal and professional experiences.  So how do we deal with and come to terms with  it?  First, we need to realize that we  are not alone with this feeling.  It is  shared by all of us, and has become a part of the global consciousness.   Second,  we need to look at and assess our inventory of life skills to determine what  personal assets we have that will help us do well and flourish in this  environment, and what deficits we're going to have to work on.  In terms of the skills, here are some of the most important: We  need (and we need to surround ourselves with) people who can live in and  perform in, the moment.  We can no longer  accommodate colleagues who live in the past, or are always anticipating the  future.  This requires the ability to  grieve well – to be able to say goodbye to what we used to do, and who we used  to be – and the ability to realistically assess the present and come to terms  with what it is, not what we'd like it to be.   In other words, we need to give up our "hope trips."  We  need to be life-long learners and come to terms with the fact that we'll never  be "finished' with working on ourselves.   To be able to do this, we need to be open to feedback, and open to  constantly increasing our self-information.   One of the things we need to stop doing is to defend our position, and  act like we're on trial.  We need to get  a lot better at listening to the feedback we get about who we are; and to ask  ourselves if what we're hearing makes sense, and how we can use it to improve  ourselves.  We  need to develop an emotional compass that allows us to stay centered and  focused, in the face of ambiguity, uncertainty, and unpredictability.  That is, the ability to stay with the task at  hand, knowing that there are no guarantees in the near or distant future. We  need to look at our need for control, and our level of trust; and work to  establish the best ratio between the two.   In an Age of Self-Doubt, the temptation to increase control is  heightened, and the tendency to lower one's trust is increased.  What we need, however, is just the  opposite.  High control and low trust  dramatically inhibits our ability to grow and increases anxiety and tension.  Low control and high trust allows us to  mediate in this "new normal," without driving ourselves crazy.  We  need to be able to talk about our feelings, in real time.  Especially when those feelings are about our  worries and concerns.  It's hard to  convince people (especially business people) that talking about things that  worry us, or situations that suck, helps us get through them, and defuses the  anxiety associated with them.  We don't  need to always fix or change things that bother us; but we do need to talk  about them, in order to feel better and get things done again.  Complaining is fine; as long as that's not  all you do..."