Jun 24, 2019

VUCA? What the heck is that?


I recently learned the acronym VUCA and it has been on my mind for a few weeks. I have been feeling a surge in my anxiety levels over the past couple years and after learning what multiple therapists, counselors and psychologists are witnessing in their offices I am not alone. 

According to an APA poll done in 2018, 40% of US Americans reported an increase in their anxiety levels compared to one year ago. People reported safety, finances and politics as the reason for the increased anxiety. Can you relate?

As a culture we are feeling deep levels of fear and anxiety and for some communities these fears are very real. Lives are at stake. In the same APA poll women and people of color showed a higher increase in anxiety compared to men and white US Americans.

Makes sense to me...given our current political environment.

So, what the heck is VUCA?

It was originally coined after the end of the Cold War to describe the world we were now living in. Today it is often used as a way to evaluate leaders and management in business. If there are high levels of VUCA is impacts an organization's ability to make decisions and to plan ahead. 

  • Volatility: Challenges can appear overnight and be of unknown duration and intensity Disruption on multiple fronts is accelerating.
  • Uncertainty: There is a lack of predictability. We are required to operate with incomplete information.
  • Complexity: Challenges are highly interdependent and difficult to map; there are unknown unknowns.
  • Ambiguity: The haziness of reality, the potential for misreads, and the mixed meanings of conditions; cause-and-effect confusion.

Consider this in the context of our current culture. Politics, religion, environment, etc. We are living in a high state of VUCA as a collective. This increased our collective anxiety.

This rings true for me. I don’t think I have ever felt so much uncertainty in my lifetime. It’s hard to know what is true and what is ‘fake news.’ There seems to be a new crisis each day. 

Anxiety is at an all time high. Depression is at an all time high. Addiction is at an all time high. Suicide is at an all time high.

“We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted, and medicated adult cohort in human history.”

Brene Brown

Of course, we each have everyday stressors to deal with. Our relationships. Our families. Our work. Our basic needs getting met. For each of us these are more or less intense. And how we respond to them certainly impacts our physiology as well. The more resources we have the better we can navigate our environment. 

Add these everyday stressors to the amount of stimulation we take into our senses every single day. Through our screens. The average US American spends 11 hours a day in front of a screen. 11 hours taking in information! This is a recipe for overwhelm. 

Add this to the amount of decisions we each have to make every single day. Decision fatigue is a real thing, it is the deteriorating quality of decisions after a long day of decision making. So by the end of a day many of us are not making our best decisions for our body, mind and soul.

Now, let's add one more thing to this list of stressors. In case you aren’t paying attention here are just a few of last week’s news stories that I came across as I was doing my screen time, which I intentionally try to limit. 

  • The US was on the verge of nuclear war with Iran.
  • The planet may not be able to sustain life past 2050.
  • Thousands of our children are being held in cages, separated from their parents, denied basic health necessities. Abused. Some have died in US custody. There seems to be no solutions coming out of Washington. 
  • The 16th woman has come forward to accuse the current POTUS of rape/sexual assault. He still comfortably holds the highest office in the country (arguably in the world) without consequence. 

Please don’t look away. Don't numb. This is real. This is happening. Pay attention to your heart beat, your breath.

If you are anything like me you deeply want to do something to change many of these scenarios. And if you are like me you feel overwhelmed. Hopeless. Exhausted. Sad. Angry. Ultimately not sure what you can possibly do to reduce the amount of suffering that so many people are experiencing.

And we must stay engaged and do something. But, when we are feeling that deep sense of overwhelm our physiology may not allow us to move forward. We may not feel we are able to make decisions beyond our daily tasks. We feel stuck. We feel 'paralyzed' to some extent. 

So what can we do to reduce VUCA?

We create small containers for ourselves that increase SCSC (stability, certainty, simplicity and clarity). In our daily habits, in our routines, in our relationships, in our work.

Ask yourself this...What DO I have control over? How can I architect my environment, my choices to counter VUCA?

  • How can you create more stability in a world that is unstable?
  • In your life today, as it is, where do you already have stability?
  • How can you create more certainty in a world that is uncertain?
  • How can you create more simplicity in a world that is complex?
  • How can you create more clarity in world that is uncertain?

One way I have found more certainty, stability, simplicity and clarity is through a dinacharya (daily habits that realign the body to its natural rhythms).

Daily habits that reduce decision fatigue, increase a sense of ease and groundedness and allow clarity to focus on bigger things.

And for me that bigger thing, my purpose, is to continue to fight and speak up for justice, equality and dignity for all of us. 

Download your FREE Simple Habits Guide here and begin to see more stability, more clarity, more ease in your life. They are simple, but not always easy. Take it one step at a time.





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