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VUCA world: challenges and thriving opportunities. A call for collaboration

Updated: Dec 17, 2019


Modern life is highly impacted by globalization and technological progress and will be so in the future even more. People have to constantly learn and proceed tremendous amounts of information like never before. Digitalization has positive influences, but challenges people as well reducing face-to-face interactions and exchange, reflection on self and environment, and empathy by its tremendous speed and virtual reality. The ability to listen, pay attention to nonverbal messages, to take time for each other, and to exchange energies shrinks more and more providing further decoupling from our natural routs and regeneration sources.

Continuous cases of top managers’ suicides prove how serious and existential the problem of dealing with rational and emotional overload and performance pressure in business and private life is leading to the inability to overcome failures. This is especially alarming as it happens in the countries with high life standard and apparent stability such as Switzerland.

On the political and macroeconomic level, the problems are reflected by the constantly increasing gap between reach and poor, growing social ghettos, crisis, and wars causing insecurity and fear. This drives people to run from themselves and to follow populistic politicians and movements up to dictatorships and terrorism, in the unconscious search for an illusory harbor.

We are living in the age of loneliness, as George Monbiot wrote in The Guardian. The lack of the real, natural, non-digital connectedness exacerbates the feelings of loneliness. Quoting Hannah Arendt, “the lonely man finds himself surrounded by others with whom he cannot establish contact or to whose hospitality he is exposed”. Back to George Monbiot, social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day; loneliness, research suggests, is twice as deadly as obesity. Dementia, high blood pressure, alcoholism and accidents – all these, like depression, paranoia, anxiety and suicide, become more prevalent when connections are cut. The contemporary VUCA world (VUCA stays for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity), globalization and digital & technological revolution foster loneliness and give fertile ground for its exuberant and unstoppable growth.

The biggest undiscovered patient and disease rolled into one is business world. It is a good mirror of modern society. Often, it is the source producing individual patients for therapists and clients for coaches through its toxic climate, dysfunctional teams, dehumanized organizational settings and workforce perception as well as lack of personalities in management and leadership which is, by the way, the same in politics. As Irvin Yalom wrote about therapy, business world is characterized by ever increasing insecurity, de-individualizing, speeding and uniforming of management and processes and non-stop change projects.

I’ve started my own business Y-Coaching having built on the use of Gestalt approach with its holistic and humanistic philosophy, on my innate ability to “read” people in a deep way and my experience in human resource development. Developing and increasing self-awareness is a core of Gestalt as a mean to the deep change. This is especially important in the modern VUCA world. Professor of the Thunderbird School of Global Management Paul Kinsinger described in two cases the ways leaders deal and adapt (or not adapt) to the challenges of the VUCA and concludes (here in an extract): “At the heart of the success in adapting is the growing sense of self-awareness and re-examine some core values, shifting flexibly within the avenues for each that the increasing turbulence offered. Grounding one’s self in who one really is in this world and what one wants to stand for are also even more essential to leading in a VUCA world”.

Although coaching alone is a great way to help people to adapt in a VUCA world through increased self-awareness, it is not enough to change the world of an individual and of a community. It is not about fixing the VUCA world and making it static and unchangeable, but about supporting people in learning to adapt to it. Coachee needs additional holistic interventions at all levels – body, spirit, mind, and environment. They need regular retreat for changing their fixed pattern in order to master their return into their challenging reality.

At the same time, there should be an intervention into that reality as well. Environment can gain from VUCA which has its advantages as well, instead of reacting on it by increasingly toxic working ways and trying to over-control and fix it. This can be done through influencing change of the current and future working ways.

Both directions, individual and collective, should aim at educating people in adapting to the VUCA and making them feel comfortable with themselves in the ever changing reality.

I have a proposal how to do it. It will be helpful both for individuals and organizations. Reach out to me wherever you are in order to learn more: via phone +41 78 910 25 73 or email nb@y-coaching.org

Let's do it together and make VUCA be perceived as vivacious, upbeat, capable and adaptive.


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