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Preparing for Uncertain Times

#emotionalintelligence #eqfit #uncertainty Dec 05, 2022

As we enter into the last month of the year, it is a time for reflection, and a time for planning for the year to come. But how do you prepare for uncertain times? Economic uncertainty, political uncertainty, public health uncertainty, employment uncertainty, energy uncertainty...and the list goes on. These are things on everyone's mind, and that is a challenge.

Decision Making

Our decision making has an emotional component. Before you discount that statement, think of times when you have a variety of options that appear similar to get the same result. How do you choose which option? You probably choose the one you feel best about.

So, what happens to your decision making capability when uncertainty generates strong emotions like anger, fear, anxiety, frustration? Research tells us that these strong emotions have a direct impact on our ability to make our best decisions. When stress increases, our ability to access our higher cognitive functions decreases. Critical thinking, problem solving, abstract reasoning, verbal reasoning...all of these are a part of our higher cognitive abilities that are negatively impacted under stress. Emotional distress is up 300% in the United States.

Decision making is critical to making good plans. There is a cascade effect to decision making:

"Decisions" is the critical element in this cascade that will determine the outcomes. Good decisions lead to good actions and usually good results. Flawed decisions lead to mis-aligned or inappropriate actions leading to poor results. Notice that emotions are impacting the decisions. This is a natural part of the decision making process. The key to making your best decisions is learning the emotional intelligence skill of "Navigating Emotions". You do not want to remove emotions from the process. Studies have shown that the best decisions are a mix of the rational and the emotional. In essence, using our whole brain to make our best decisions.

Why so much focus on decision making? Because it is foundational to planning.


We started by considering all of the uncertainty in our world today. How do you plan with so much that is uncertain?

Start with self-awareness.

  • Where are you right now?
  • Are you in a healthy state of mind?
  • Are your emotions in a good place?
  • Do you have the resources and focus you need?
  • What can you control?

This is a good place to level set and put yourself in the best possible mindset for making the decisions and plans you will need. Circumstances will never be perfect. Perfect is the enemy of good. You need to be in a good place to make your best decisions and plans.

Planning for Uncertain Times

Once you are in a good place, make a list of the things that you do control. Things that you can directly impact or leverage to generate the results that you want.

STORY...Recently I was running a workshop with a group of leaders. I asked them the question, "How do you plan for the unknown?" They started responding and had a long list of things that they would consider. I then asked them to categorize their list by placing each item into either "contingency" or "proactive" status. The vast majority became contingencies. If this happens then we will do that. Then I asked them to place a probability percentage on each, meaning how likely was each to actually happen. This is when they began to see the problem in trying to create contingencies for every possibility. Very few of the contingencies had high percentage ratings. The emotions in the room were on the negative side, frustration, anxiety, even fear. The ability to collaborate and innovate disappeared. Then I asked them to shift their mindset to only things they could proactively do to have the best year possible next year. The planning process became something very different. Something very interesting happened when they switched to a proactive mindset...the emotions in the room became much more positive. They started to collaborate better, innovate, and come up with actionable plans that brought real value. The difference was between trying to plan for the unknown in all its possible forms and planning for things they could control.

What do we control? Probably more than you think:

  • Individual and team development
  • Agile resource allocation
  • Engagement and effort
  • Connection and collaboration
  • Celebrating wins and learning from mistakes
  • Creating a resilient and vital climate

Notice that all of these focus on people. People are the most critical asset any organization has. I have seen teams rise up and overcome almost impossible challenges. I have seen leaders emerge from unexpected places. How does this happen?

Plan to Prosper

I have a good friend and business owner that has a very simple but profound growth strategy. Prepare then grow. That is it. That is his growth strategy...and it works!

How can you grow in uncertain times, prepare then grow. I use different words but they mean the same thing...equip people to prosper. When people prosper, then growth is a natural outcome. But to prosper, they must be equipped to prosper.

When you are making your decisions and planning, remember that your greatest impact will be on things within your control. If you want to succeed, you must prepare and grow yourself. If you want your team to succeed, the same thing needs to happen. And likewise for your organization.

So, how do we equip people to prosper? By equipping them from the inside out.

Removing Uncertainty From Your Planning

We do not know what tomorrow will bring, much less Q3 or Q4 of next year. If you want to take uncertainty out of your planning equation, then prepare yourself and your people for WHATEVER comes next. That is a big step in the right direction. One of the most often missed opportunities is the opportunity to consistently grow and develop people in a way that adds agility and resilience, which will lead to greater capacity, competency, and character.

Here are 5 steps you can take to build a proactive plan for success:

  1. Assess where each person is (see "start with self-awareness" above)
  2. Create a specific Success Pathway for each person
  3. Equip each person - skills, emotional intelligence, growth opportunities
  4. Initiate a weekly coaching process
  5. Enhance opportunities for connection, collaboration, and innovation

This proactive approach builds emotional courage, removes roadblocks, empowers people, generates the energy and motivation needed, and promotes a healthy and vital organization.

Are you worried about which piece of the sky will be falling next...or are you building a rocket that will lift you and your team to new heights? I know which one I would choose!


For more, check out our other resources:

EQFIT® YouTube Channel


EQFIT® Podcast

Copyright © 2022 EQFIT® - Author: Steven Goodner All rights reserved. No portion of this material may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law. For permissions contact: [email protected]

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