Leaders, Evolve Despite Doubts and Uncertainty

I remember how, after working hard for many years, my corporate dream was shot down, with no chance of recovery. I felt betrayed, angry and disappointed. Has something ever happened that you knew would change your life forever? Alter the very core of who you are. At first, we may feel forced to do things differently. Over time, however, you might notice that your thoughts, emotions and actions have shifted and realize that you are evolving into a different person. 

 Plagued with unanswered questions and conflicting feelings, anxiety and skepticism may surface. Take heart! Know that it is possible to break free and claim the person you are becoming with increased clarity and confidence. In this article, I will pair the fifth stage of change, EVOLVE, with the Change Proficiencies, “Partner with Doubt” and “Get Certain with Uncertainty.” These tools will help you avoid feeling stuck and assist you in remaining productive.

 EVOLVE – Fifth Stage of Change 

EVOLVE specifically deals with how you begin transitioning from who you were before your change toward whom you are becoming. Like a caterpillar that has transformed into a butterfly, you know that you cannot revert backward any more than a butterfly can to its original form. Naturally, those close to you compliment how you have rebounded and the strides you continue to make. While that is true and should be celebrated, you will need courage to engage in conversations with those who have an emotional and intellectual attachment to who you were before the change.

 As you hesitantly yet excitedly walk towards the new version of you, questions arise. What will await me on the other side? Whom could I lose? What could I lose? The Change Proficiency “Partner with Doubt” will assist in pinpointing and defusing the anxiety connected to those questions and so much more.

 Change Proficiency – “Partner with Doubt” 

To “Partner with Doubt” is to clarify, analyze and neutralize doubts that could interfere with effectively stepping into who you are now or need to become. There are many reasons doubts can surface during the “EVOLVE” stage of change. Miriam, a VP in the financial industry, was startled when her manager, threatened by her potential, gave her a damaging evaluation, which eroded her confidence. Tina, who had accomplished her dream of becoming a lawyer, was suddenly plagued with insecurities around more experienced lawyers. Angela was let go without notice.

 How do you defuse doubts? First, without justifying or defending your position, reflect on and write down which thoughts plague you the most. Then, spend some time examining, without judgment, what may be at the root of those doubts. Are they old or reoccurring ones that have resurfaced? Do they stem from a lack of clarity about your new direction? Are you concerned about your ability to succeed in new endeavors?

 History repeats itself. Once you identify which experiences have fed your doubts, focus on the history that provides strong evidence of emerging as the victor from challenging situations. Surround yourself with those who have encouraged you to overcome obstacles and get back up after stumbling over a hurdle. You have more influence over thoughts and feelings that seek to undermine your efforts than you think. The following tool, “Get Certain with Uncertainty,” will help you determine when and how you can and should move forward.

 What Does it Mean to “Get Certain with Uncertainty?” 

To “Get Certain with Uncertainty” is to increase our awareness of how we respond to an unpredictable situation. Unforeseen circumstances, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, an economic reversal, loss of clients or our continual desire to expand our professional footprint, can be a breeding ground for anxiety.

 After receiving a serious diagnosis, Jane, a small business owner, followed her doctor’s treatment suggestions. As she gained a better understanding with her new reality, sometimes she would make suggestions to see if her doctor agreed. Then came the point where Jane began to take the lead, feeling more confident and fully vested in the realization that she alone would deal with the outcome. Unknowingly, Jane had become certain in an uncertain situation.

 Your thoughts, emotions, actions and ability to exert influence over a situation will represent the three major roles of your journey through uncertainty. Those roles are Passenger, Co-Driver and Driver. Each has value when you fully embrace it without judgment. In the Passenger role, Jane responded like an observer, allowing the doctor to make all the decisions. Then, she transitioned to the Co-Driver role, fluctuating between inactivity and action as she began to make suggestions. When Jane took the lead and exercised the most influence, she assumed the Driver role.

 Reflect on where in current situations you embody the Passenger, Co-Driver or Driver role. Ask yourself, have I consciously chosen that role, or did I passively accept it? As you intentionally acknowledge your part, you become more empowered and experience a mental and emotional shift. During stressful and time-sensitive situations, I constantly analyze and monitor my mental, physical and emotional “temperature.” Likewise, always be aware of your current mental, physical and emotional state to exercise the most significant influence and make the best decisions.

 As you transition to the next stage of your journey, doubts and uncertainty will arise. When you “Partner with Doubt,” you strengthen your position and stifle doubts. Honor your current state of being by acknowledging, accepting and expanding the role you play to “Get Certain with Uncertainty.” These tools will strengthen your ability to break free of inactivity, proceed with greater clarity and confidence and experience peace of mind.