Embracing Discomfort: How Senior Leaders Can Thrive in Uncertain Times

If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that change is inevitable. No matter how many systems and processes you have in place, outside events can upend everything in a matter of moments. Although the global pandemic is in the rear-view mirror, right now seems more uncertain than ever. Will there be a recession, or are we in an economic boom? Is the Great Resignation over, or do you still need to worry about employees walking out with little notice? And importantly, how can you be a great leader with so much uncertainty clouding the future? As it turns out, the key is in learning to embrace discomfort.

Honor the Uncertainty

If you’re like most senior leaders, you thrive on predictability. You may always be chasing your next big idea, but you’re doing so with a stable foundation beneath you. In times like these, though, that very foundation likely feels shaky and prone to collapse.

You can’t embrace discomfort and learn to thrive until you are able to honor the uncertainty of this moment. And that means fundamentally shifting your mindset. You won’t ever have all of the information. You are not omniscient, and you can’t predict the future. But you can learn to make the most of the current situation.

Ever been caught in a rip current? If you try to swim against it, you’ll drown. But if you ride it out and then swim diagonally away from it, you’ll be just fine. The same applies here. Develop an exploratory mindset in which you continue to learn about the forces that surround you, and work with them rather than against them.

Give up on Perfectionism

Mistakes will happen, especially in uncertain times. Rather than viewing them as failures, learn to see them as opportunities. One of the hallmarks of a great leader is the ability to course correct. But you have to be able to let go of your ego, as well as your underlying fears. Some of the greatest ideas in history have been sparked only after a seeming disaster. Trust the instincts that have gotten you this far, remember what it was like when you were first starting your career, and face challenges head on.

Seek Support

You are not an island, and you can’t navigate uncertain times completely on your own. The issues that face today’s workplaces are complex, with no easy answers. Talk to your most trusted advisors. Then go a step further. Talk to your front-line team members and people in your network. Identify the challenges and brainstorm solutions. Multiple smart minds working together can overcome virtually any obstacle.

Times are uncertain, but that doesn’t mean you can’t thrive as a senior leader. Learn to embrace discomfort and meet the moment head-on, and you will be well on your way to even more business success.

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