In order to be your best self, you must be able to handle uncertainty. To describe these situations we use the acronym “VUCA”:
Situations and experiences that can be explained by one or more of these characteristics are particularly tough for us to handle. And if you think about it, is there a better word to describe the experience we’ve all been living through the last 18 months? (Seriously, if you can think of one, hit reply and tell us!) There’s simply a lot of uncertainty facing us at every turn.
VUCA situations are particularly tough for us because of our mind’s natural tendency to seek out predictability, familiarity, certainty, and stability. Our mind’s natural survival instinct sees a predictable, unchanging environment as one that is safe. It’s known. It’s one where we can let our guard down. We feel calm, confident, and at ease in predictable, familiar situations.
Let’s unpack that for a second. Our mind’s natural tendency is to feel at ease in predictable, unchanging circumstances. This is our comfort zone. So naturally, when things tip in the “VUCA direction,” we feel it, and it doesn’t feel good. It’s hard to be your best self when your mind doesn’t feel at ease. A lack of certainty compounds this.
So, is it really surprising that anxiety and depression have risen exponentially since the beginning of the pandemic?
We’ve heard from countless organizations over the last couple of months, and there is one common theme: people are feeling the stress and pressure of the ongoing VUCA situation we’ve all been living in.
But, people still have jobs to do and goals to achieve. Our businesses and organizations still depend on our teams in order to move forward, even during challenging times.
So, what can you do to support your team so they can show up as their best, even in the face of adversity?
This month’s tip is to take a page out of the book of a true high performer. Michael Phelps is the most decorated olympian in history. He won 28 medals (23 gold), and has been lauded as the “greatest of all time.”
What contributed to that level of performance?
Sure, you can point to his natural physical ability to account for some of it, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
When you dig into Phelps’ training regimen, you see a series of rituals, like his race-day ritual above. These rituals are carefully crafted to put Phelps in a state of mind that allows him to show up and perform at his best.
He primes his best self, and your employees can do the same. By priming our best self, we put ourselves in the mindset that allows us to handle more uncertainty. The repetitiveness and familiarity of a ritual like a race-day routine helps calm our mind during VUCA times.
Ask your employees to answer the following questions:
- When was a time that I was at my best? (Describe it in detail)
- How did I feel? (Be specific! Were you confident, calm, assertive, engaged, etc)
- What activities tend to elicit or detract from those feelings?
- I was at my best when I reached my set goals while working on a big initiative last quarter.
- I felt in control and in a state of flow.
- My work was planned out – I knew when to do what. I had uninterrupted time.
Your employees can use the answers to these questions to craft their own “race-day routine” to prime themselves to show up closer to their best self each day. Not only does this further personal development, but it can trickle into other areas of your life. In this example, this employee could spend some time each week to plan out their work. They could consider blocking work time on their calendar to ensure adequate time to focus.
By priming our best selves, we put ourselves in the best possible position to weather the inevitable challenges that a VUCA situation can throw at us.
Ready to help your team build psychological strength?
Ready to support your team to help them manage stress and uncertainty and perform at their peak? Fill out a quick form, and we’ll be in touch about how your organization can begin building psychological strength.