Living in a VUCA world

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I recently attended an organizational change management conference where a futurist delivered a jolting keynote speech.  He talked about how we are living in a VUCA world, and that the next 10 years will not get any better and, in fact, may get worse.

VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. The world economy, speed of technological change and so many other factors makes our world a VUCA world. His message was this:  prepare ourselves by building personal resiliency.

At first, I gasped along with the rest of the audience during his speech.  Later on, my reaction to his message was agreement, however, with a perspective that we are essentially already in a VUCA world.  We are already in a state of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.  I think most people already feel the buildup of pressure, that’s why so many people seek comfort and refuge.

Our life is a journey.  Everyone goes through good times, bad times, and personal VUCA times.  Don’t you think that most generations previous to us also thought they lived in VUCA times?  I think they did – it just had different labels.

It’s all about perspective.  If we stay awake and aware, we can stay grounded to what life is about.  We can weather the ups and downs of life.  Cultivating meditation and mindfulness keeps us grounded. Meditation and mindfulness keeps things real.  It brings our awareness back to our center and spirit.  It builds our personal resiliency.

If you have a perspective on what VUCA means to you and how you manage through it, I invite you to share it by commenting on this post.

8 thoughts on “Living in a VUCA world

  1. I agree with the comments about the times we live in today. It is scary. I just started reading a book by Chade-Meng Tan, “Search Inside Yourself.” I have just started it, but right from the beginning he speaks of his dream of bringing world peace by the practice of learning emotional intelligence. It includes the retraining of our brain (neuroplasticity) Of course, the people who need this training the most will never try it.

    • Hi Barbara, that’s interesting. Well, I think the people who need it the most may never realize they need it, but the good news is that some of the people ‘in the middle’ are waking up. I deal with a lot of people, and it’s honestly exciting for me to hear when someone tells me something like “I’ve now realized how unhappy and angry I’ve been the past while, and I’m trying to change that.” That gives me hope.

      Thanks so much for your comment,

  2. I know personally that for the past few years things have been quite unsettled in our life, but what I draw strength from is the things that have remained constant. My wife of 27 years, my wonderful children and my very understanding and supportive friends. All the technology in the world will never change that. I sit and watch the Hummingbirds at the feeder outside our window and I could not be more present or the boats going along the river. I think the act of stopping what your doing and taking notice of where you are is important because compared to many you have plenty to be thankful for.

    • Hi Grasshopper, great perspective. If we know our center, and can be self-aware enough to know when we need to re-center, and actually make the effort to re-center, that brings resiliency and gratitude.

  3. I agree that we have always had volatility and uncertainty. Look at the world wars in the 20th century, or the democratic revolutions of the 18th century, or the plagues of 14th century. Every era and every culture deals with volatility and uncertainty in one form or another. I had a psychology professor who defined intelligence as an organism’s ability to adapt to change. If you think about it, most animals can only survive in a specific niche, while a few of the more intelligent ones can adapt. When their source of food disappears, they can find a new source for example. I think people also fall into a spectrum of adaptability. Some people crash and burn when the environment changes, some thrive. A big part of adaptability is being able to accept the world and your current situation as it is, and release any attachment to the way things were. You are then free to engage and thrive. Successful adaptation also depends on whether you approach what you want or avoid what you don’t. When change happens, some people focus on the negative and try running away from what they fear or dislike about the change. This can result in moving from the frying pan into the fire, because you are so busy looking over your shoulder at what you don’t want, you neglect to look at where you are going. Conversely, some people react to change by looking for the opportunities that are created by the change and focusing on what they want. This is what makes the difference between just surviving and really thriving.

  4. A brave and real article, it is safe to bring light to the darkness. I think people in the past had a sense of community, hope. Resiliency can be taught, it takes a lot of hard work and courage. Pray we find it.

    • Hi Al, nice sentiment that you pray we all find resiliency. We can all find it, if we are aware enough to know ourselves and current state, and set a true intention. Have a look at Ken M’s comment on this post. He has a good explanation of this, and also how people and other organisms adapt and survive to changes.
      Thank you very much for your comment.

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