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Thursday, September 17, 2020

C-Suite Advisory

How leaders can learn to embrace (and thrive in) uncertainty

Penny Locaso

COVID life and the unknown it brings with it has left many of us feeling afraid. Afraid of slowing down, afraid of keeping up, afraid of holding on and afraid of letting go. There’s an internal battle going on, its the resistance between the unrealistic expectations of what we feel we should be doing (based on the way life used to be) and creating the space to pave a new path. A path that moves our mindset and our behaviour from a mode of surviving to one of thriving, which is why we need to learn to intentionally adapt.

Your Intentional Adaptability Quotient (IAQ) is the measure of how skilled you are at making intentional change in a complex and uncertain environment that is evolving at speed. The concept of Adaptability Quotient (AQ) was originally expressed in a 2011 Harvard Business Review entitled Adaptability: The New Competitive Advantage. But intentionally adapting, takes the concept one step further, and is critical in the current environment because it is about bringing meaning the to the forefront of how we make decisions. IAQ is premised on slowing down, creating the space to think, to experiment and to unlearn. 

So where as a leader might you even begin to build your IAQ as a means for thriving? We start with small intentional practices that amplify skill in the domains of Focus, Courage and Curiosity. Our aim is to create the space daily for more of the things that light you up and truly matter.  

Skill 1. Focus

We live in a world that is now designed to distract us. Our attention has become a highly valuable commodity so valuable in fact that companies like Netflix taught sleep as one of their biggest competitors. Productivity has become our disease, busy our default position and every waking moment is full. Our focus on doing is compromising our state of being…human being. 

Ditch The Busy: Try removing the word busy from your vocabulary for one week and observe how it impacts your mindset, your behaviour and the connection you have with others. 

Focusmate: Try focusmate.com It’s changed my life. It’s how I wrote a book in 3 months. Set an intention to invest just 50 minutes of your time a couple days a week on just one thing that matters to you. Jump on focusmate.com and schedule your session. Show up at your nominated time and be Zoomed up with a random stranger co-working in the virtual world on your intention.

Skill 2. Courage

Fear is the number one barrier to change (even if that change is something you’ve longed for) and yet fear and failure are two of the greatest levers you have available to you to shape the change you seek.

Do Something Brave: Give yourself permission to believe in yourself through the practice of micro bravery. Resilience is born out of leaning into fear and experience tells me micro bravery is one of the best ways to build it. Micro Bravery is doing small things each day that make you feel uncomfortable. It can be as simple as having a difficult conversation, signing up for an online class to learn something you know nothing about or sharing something that makes you feel a little vulnerable with someone else. Small acts of bravery practiced over time build the courage and confidence to lean into bigger acts of bravery enabling you to unlock potential and possibility you never imagined. 

Skill 3. Curiosity

I am often told by professionals that curiosity is something they do in their spare time of which they have none. Curiosity is a state of being those who are brilliant at it (like Einstein) share that the more they explore their curiosity the less they realise they know. What an invitation to open our eyes to the world around us and possibility we didn’t realise existed.

Create A Curiosity List: Note down all the things you are curious about and would love to learn to build your knowledge. Then highlight the one that jumps off the page. Then get after it by dedicating a small amount of time each day to learn. I gift myself 15 minutes of learning each morning before I do any ‘work’. That 15 minutes adds up to an extra 65 hours of knowledge building a year.

Get Curious About You: Writing down your thoughts, feelings and behaviours enables you to connect the dots between how they interact.  We become observers of our brain’s behaviour and build a relationship with our mind that helps us work with it more effectively.  Try on 15 minutes of daily journaling, set the alarm on your phone and just sit alone with your thoughts a pen and a piece of paper. See what comes up and out. No filters allowed just observation. Don’t stop your practice if you have nothing more to write and you are only 5 minutes in. Just sit in the silence…trust me it will surprise you.

Amplifying your IAQ provides a navigation system for you to explore, experiment and evolve in a way that is meaningful to you.  Focus, Courage and Curiosity act as levers to unlock possibility and move us from a position of surviving in complexity and uncertainty to thriving.


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Penny Locaso
Penny Locaso is the world’s first Happiness Hacker on a mission to teach 10 million humans how to intentionally adapt in order to future proof happiness. She is the author of Hacking Happiness (Wiley $29.95). Penny Locaso is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on LinkedIn.