Why Embracing Volatility is the Only Way to Thrive in Turbulent Times

Why Embracing Volatility is the Only Way to Thrive in Turbulent Times

Volatility is here to stay. Gone are the days of predictability during which the status quo reigned. To use a river rafting analogy, we now live in a world of permanent “white water” – i.e., a turbulent environment in which raging torrents, unstable currents, and hidden hazards are everyday occurrences. Here are three ways that people have reacted to this dramatic change in terms of how they choose to live their lives and run their organizations:

  1. Hide under the desk, hoping against all evidence to the contrary that predictability and stability will return – and that they will be safe in that hideout until the “all clear” is given.

  2. Continue “business as usual” operations, ignoring the current reality and refusing to change or adapt people, programs, and processes that no longer are effective.

  3. Embrace the volatility, treating it as an opportunity to be seized rather than as an insurmountable obstacle that threatens personal and organizational survival.

Though options one and two represent very human reactions, only option three will enable people and organizations to thrive. Much as practitioners of the martial arts leverage the flow of their opponents’ energy rather than fight against it, those who choose to work with the environmental volatility instead of struggling against it will be able to turn it into an advantage.

What are the advantages of embracing volatility? Here are three that come to mind:

  1. The opportunity to thrive, both personally and professionally, rather than merely survive.

  2. The ability to guide one’s destiny by making conscious, pro-active choices rather than ceding that life-changing power to others by being reactive.

  3. The opportunity to reach clarity about what’s really important and to make a conscious decision to focus on it, personally and professionally, by reviewing the situation realistically and expansively.

Embracing volatility is not for the faint of heart; it requires courage and a commitment to becoming adept at practicing situational agility. There is a clear choice: follow the instinctive inclinations that were adequate during times of relative stability, or charge headlong into the turbulence armed with the support that enables people to thrive, both personally and professionally. What is your choice?

Pat Lynch, Ph.D., is President of Business Alignment Strategies, Inc., a consulting firm that helps clients optimize business results by aligning people, programs, and processes with organizational goals. You may contact Pat or call (562) 985-0333.


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