Contrary to popular belief, the reason for anxiety and stress is not that we have too much to do. The actual reason is the feeling of being out of control. I know several high performance individuals, who have a lot on their plate and at the same time are very well grounded.
What’s their secret?
Risk versus Uncertainty
There is a difference between risk and uncertainty. Risk is tangible and defined. Uncertainty is intangible and undefined. For example, whenever you board a plane, you run a risk. Yet, the future of the aviation industry is uncertain.
Human beings handle risk quite well, after all many people fly in planes, drive cars, and eat hamburgers. Yet, we have trouble dealing with uncertainty: It creates anxiety because we don’t feel much control over our future.
Therefore, if you want to thrive in turbulent times, you need to take back control by turning uncertainty into manageable risk.
Strategies to Take Back Control
There are three advanced strategies to do exactly that for yourself and your organization.
The first strategy is strategic quitting: Take out everything which makes you more fragile. Think of toxic people, bad clients or lagging products.
The second strategy is portfolio thinking: Continue to develop options to deal with possible future events. For example, what’s your back-up plan when your main supplier goes out of business?
The final strategy is decision making in advance: Define critical business parameters, monitor those parameters closely, and decide beforehand which action to take when these critical parameters hit a threshold. For example: Monitor cash flow and have a triage plan in place as soon as cash hits a certain bandwidth.
All predictions of the future are wrong, but some are useful. Focus on those which will help you to take back control to deal effectively with uncertainty in turbulent times.