Do you feel insecure, feeling like having no clear understanding about where the world is heading? Major political changes (Trump, Brexit…. and much more to come) together with rapid disruption of many traditional businesses (hotel, taxi service, publication etc) may cause you to feel uncertain and insecure. But let me encourage – or shock you, depending on your attitude, our life (at least for those with traditional mindset) is certainly not getting any easier, it is becoming extremely complex and ambiguous. Yes, the fact is, that we are entering the Postnormal Era, where VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) conditions are the ‘new normal’. So, in order to survive, or at best to thrive, we need to improve our ‘vucability’ – the ability to prosper in VUCA conditions.
British author, consultant and coach Finn Jackson is calling this time of ‘unprecedented global change’ with a notion “The Churning”. He has a long experience as a coach and has been active in many forums to discuss the future of our society and business. I had the opportunity during last week not only to re-read his brilliant book “The Churning, Volume1: INNER LEADERSHIP – Tools for Building Inspiration In Times of Change (2016, Hertford Street Press), but I also started to actually do some of the practices described in the book. So, it’s about time to share some of Finn’s valuable insights here.
The first insight is a fundamental one. His advice is, that we should start our journey with focusing in ‘inner leadership’; when we are able to lead ourselves, only then there is a chance, that we can also lead others. Throughout the book Finn focuses in one fundamental matter, which enables great leadership: the ability to inspire. My personal experience confirms that in this statement he is spot on. Practically nothing is more valuable in VUCA world than the ability to create inspiration, to motivate yourself and people around you, to empower yourself and others with your passion. If the only inspiration to work – or ‘go to office’ – is to get by, to pay the mortgages, to wait for the next vacation, then there is a genuine reason to stop and think!
Finn is able in an entertaining way to keep a very positive attitude, this helps to turn this seemingly scary-looking future to become an adventure full of possibilities. He admits that we face huge challenges and that the transformation (on the individual level and in our communities and nations) is not going to be easy – but it surely is possible. The encouraging message is surely needed, because – as Finn also in his book many times points out – the churning world offers also a lot of opportunities for those who are mentally and spiritually prepared. He reminds extremely wisely that “We are not simply human beings, we are human becomings. Throughout our lives, in different ways, at different rates, we are always changing and becoming.” So, it’s up to us how this Churning is going to change the way we live and work, it’s a matter of chosen perspective.
The book contains so many valuable advice and instructions for self-help type inspiring daily practices, that it’s not possible to introduce all of them in this short review. Fortunately Finn is keeping a dedicated forum for those interested in deeper commitment, so you will find his Churning-related web-page “ Tools for Leadership in Times for Change” here
I like to take a closer look to one especially valid theme, namely Finn’s insights about the three reasons, why we sometimes get stuck. He lists the reasons as following 1) overthinking; 2) not knowing who we want to become; 3) fear. Overthinking is paralysis by analysis: endlessly flipping back and forth between alternatives and their possible consequences, wondering what to do, but never actually doing anything. A second way that people can sometimes get stuck is when they aren’t sure who or what they want to become. This lack of clarity about direction and purpose can make all options seem equally (ir)relevant, which can then also lead to indirection and overthinking. Most of all, the third reason we can find ourselves stuck is simply that we are afraid, afraid to fail and afraid to succeed. In a churning world all ways forward will be unpredictable. The point is to choose a direction and move towards it, knowing that we will have to pivot later. I personally like him highlighting also the fear of success, in many cases I have seen people with all the qualities to prosper, yet staying in the shadows and never becoming a person, they may have become.
I can highly recommend “The Churning”, it will give valuable insights on how to cope and even to thrive in the Postnormal VUCA times. So in that respect it offers us a true survival manual and an inspiring and useful tool, it is an inspiring reading for all of us, who have the desire to improve our ‘vucability’ and prosper and be happy, also when experiencing the challenging times of The Churning.