One clear and obvious challenge to deal with in a VUCA world, is the volume and speed of new information we are bombarded with. Even though the vast majority of messages reaching us on our phones, laptops and televisions are irrelevant to what we are about, we tend to still give it our time and attention. It is the double-edged sword of progress: we love to be knowledgeable and informed, but it comes at the price of being distracted and often-times irritated as we scan through volumes of messages, the one supposedly as critical to our well-being as the next. In truth, this is a serious matter: an overload of information, researchers tell us, negatively effects quality decision making and the overstimulation of our brains can lead to neurodegenerative disorders. What would be a healthy way of dealing with information pollution?
We should keep in mind, as historian Daniel Boorstin says, ‘the fog of information can drive out knowledge.’ Our sense of integrity is tied to our sense of truth and meaning. The more random things we hear or read only in a sentence or two (or 140 characters), the less sure we become about the truth, meaning or value of it. The more we feel unsure about what to trust, the less integrated we feel. The less integrated we feel, the more everything appears to be equally important or unimportant. We need dedicated uninterrupted time to focus and evaluate what we believe we know, and to welcome and internalise new learning – or else we lose our positive energy.
Maintaining positive energy
‘Positive energy’ comes from knowing what we are really doing when we are doing what we doing. In other words to be mindful of how our actions are connected to what we are about, from the inside-out, what we value and believe. And if disconnected, to be aware of it in order to adjust and re-integrate.
Will anyone deny it that the world would be a much more beautiful place if we can share in each other’s positive energy? Two people can have the same job description, and one is holding a subtle or not-so-subtle life energy in doing his or her job, while another is holding a subtle or not-so-subtle negative energy while doing the exact same job. Are we not responding much more to one another’s energy than to their exact words or actions? Our positive energy is always the outcome from inside-out work – reflecting on and questioning our intentions, aligining with our vision, beliefs and values.
Living in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world can endanger what we have as positive energy, but it doesn’t have to be that way as long as we remain committed to live a life of integrity.
How to know what matters
As we navigate our way through the stormy and murky waters of a VUCA world, it would be helpful to reflect regularly on the following questions:
- Am I true to myself, what I believe and what I value, in what I am doing now?
- Imagining myself at the end of my life, will I be satisfied with the way I applied myself to
– living a life of integrity?
– my relationships with loved ones, friends and colleagues?
– my work?
– unlocking my potential through continuous learning?