“When a needle falls into a deep well, many people will look into the well, but few will be ready to go down after it.” – African proverb
If there is any lesson the coronavirus raging throughout the world has taught us, it is that our knowledge of life is not as deep as we have made ourselves believe. It has laid bare the uncertainty of life, and offered us an opportunity to correct the self-deception we hold about the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of events. It has revealed how we instinctively react emotionally before our senses kick in to calm the confusion. This calls into question the ‘correctness’ of the many decisions we have made over the years. And it has taught us that what we choose to attend to – be it our faith or our fear – determines the quality of our relationships and the life we eventually have.
In an era when we have come to expect life to unfold from merely clicking or pushing a button, the uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus is quite a disturbing state of being. We have always thought we were already in control, but the last six months have taught us that we are not yet there – and this is quite scary for many of us. And hence the weird attitude many of us have displayed over the same period of time. Not only does it signal that we have not got life wrapped around our thumbs as we had envisaged, but it also implies that ‘reality’ is inherently slippery.
Can you believe that for all this while our aspiration for control has been illusionary? What we should have been doing in actuality was honing ourselves to adapt to whatever life throws at us. The rage of the coronavirus has plunged the global economy into crisis. But it is a crisis that stems more from our inability to adapt quickly, rather than doing things wrongly.
The models which work markets do not like uncertainty. They thrive on predictability and directions of certainty. That is why the mix of uncertainty is confusing it. The coronavirus rage has exposed us. The certainty we cloaked ourselves with was comfort food we ate to lessen our failure to altogether discern the all-important distinction between having control and having the ability to adapt. We have found ourselves driven to radical diagnosis of an event without finding in ourselves the capacity to control it, at least in the short-term.
We will definitely overcome it with time. Time has always been our strongest ally. It grants us the space to think of innovative ways to weather storms, and it helps us to shift gears till we find the one that helps us rise above ourselves in order to adapt. But until then, we need to understand that the real work of uncertainty is to impact change to change faster than usual. It challenges us to look within, in order to bring out the best of ourselves. It inspires us to look at what is changing around us, just as we are also changing within ourselves.
Living is a state of enchantment. It does not deal out events with a fair hand. Some events are more weighted than others, and some are easier to adapt to than others. What this means is that we should live with a degree of openness. We should look forward to each moment with excitement or wonderment. It challenges us to dare to leave aside our worries and concentrate on the moment; in order to savour and enjoy it, even if not all things are rosy. We are to orient ourselves toward change, and regard it not as a menace but as part of the elemental richness that life heaps upon us.
At the very minimum, the current uncertainty has at least challenged us to give employees an opportunity to change how work is carried out; and ultimately how organisations ought to function. Employees have been empowered to a height that was unimaginable a year ago. And it happened because we embraced the impact of uncertainty. Likewise, the uncertainty has challenged us to re-imagine our social interactions; from the way we organise our programmes to how we appreciate physical presence.
We may have been cultured to react to uncertainty with fear – and it is an ability that may be all well and good when venturing into the wilds of the forest, but in our everyday interactions with others we must envisage it as an opportunity for us to be a better version of ourselves. Uncertainty takes us out of our comfort zone. It forces us to question ourselves about the view of ourselves that we trust. Which information and knowledge are reliable ones, and which ones are deceptive? All in all, it challenges us to unmask our deceptions by realising that our biggest trait is our ability to adapt, and not our quest to dominate…
Kodwo Brumpon is a management consultant and a life coach who inspires individuals, groups and corporate bodies to think and feel that which is true, and helps them to positively respond to that which is beautiful while nudging them to let goodness govern their actions. Comments, suggestions and requests should be sent to him at [email protected]