Yes, you can’t anticipate the unexpected

Cartoon image of lighting striking from the clouds and hitting an old-fashioned antenna on a chimney.Storms rolled through in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

My husband had been up earlier, tracking the progress of tornadoes touching down only miles from us, ready to wake me, the dog, and the cat, and get us all down to the basement. He went back to sleep; I woke up a bit later when the power went out and the UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) started beeping (it’s a warning to shut things down before its battery dies).

Power came back late that evening.

The internet? Still down as I drafted this; it finally came back after four and a half days. (And some people still don’t have power over a week later, as I click “publish.”)

You can’t anticipate the unexpected, and the unexpected will play havoc with your uncertainty tolerance.

Yet any change of any significance is going to encounter the unexpected. Sometimes it’s going to be a positive thing (hey, look, that worked faster than we thought!). More often, sadly, it’s going to be a bump in the road, a problem, a storm of some sort.

And here’s an important point: the unexpected is, in and of itself, a change.

I had to change a lot with the internet being down for so many days. Meetings were rescheduled, social media interactions were next to impossible, my phone’s hotspot ate battery life like you wouldn’t believe, even while internet access was slower than the proverbial molasses in January – running uphill.

On the flip side, I had time to read books on strategy and change that have been gathering electronic dust on my Kindle for months. I had time to work on my book on change leadership. I contemplated (but ended up not taking) an impromptu vacation. And so on.

When the unexpected lands on our doorstep or desk, it’s natural to jump immediately into action and try to find ways around, under, over, through.

Better, really, to take a moment to think about how it’s affecting you and your team as individuals. Give the ones with higher uncertainty tolerance responsibility for exploring options. Help the ones who get frustrated and annoyed.

Sometimes it’s not obvious what people need, and that’s why the simple act of asking is so powerful. Not, “How are you doing?”, but “What do you need?”

Me? I needed my internet back, dagnabbit! ???? But going out to a botanical garden and a really great brunch on Sunday helped. And the memory of that is still helping, days later, as I write this article in a Word document with hopes that maybe – just maybe – I’ll get the internet back tomorrow and will be able to publish to my website and to my newsletter readers.

(I didn’t. Which is why my newsletter took an unexpected week off!)

Change leadership isn’t just for corporate change initiatives. It’s for life stuff. I really had to practice what I preach!

Want to explore? Drop me a note through my contact form and we’ll set a time to talk.