Business Unusual: Four ways to navigate times of uncertainty

Here’s four ideas to help you swim more easily in this powerful era of change. By Janine Garner.

We teach our children surf safety and what to do if they’re caught in a rip. We teach our children to remain calm and not panic, to float or tread water until they can swim out of the rip and only then swim parallel to shore to escape the current.

We warn that trying to swim against the rip is exhausting, as no matter how much effort and energy you expel the ocean is far more powerful. I think the same choice applies to the Covid-19 world we are forced to live in today.

We can either choose to surrender and remain calm, swimming with the changing tide following directives and implementing changes that we are forced to make and perhaps being curious about opportunities that may exist.

Or we can swim against the tide, forcefully sticking our heels in the ground, fighting every step of the way, diverting responsibility, blaming others and pushing back against the new rules of everyday life.

Swimming against the tide will get us nowhere and nowhere quickly. Swimming with the tide will get us all there eventually, and more safely.

Here are four ideas to help you swim more easily with this powerful rip of change.

Manage your INPUTS: Every second we are bombarded with anxiety and fear via news, social media and people around us. It can become difficult to maintain a positive mindset and the stamina to keep going. Imagine surrounding yourself with a personal bubble of protection.  Only allow information, commentary and people that feed your positivity into your bubble and push the stuff that feeds your angst and panic, aside.  Quit the negative voices because they will force you to swim around in circles of increasing anxiety and fear.

Manage your OUTPUTS: We all want to do purposeful and meaningful work. This doesn’t stop just because the world is in disruption or the people around us are indecisive in decision making. Don’t get lost in the status quo of sitting around, doing nothing and waiting for someone else to give you permission to keep moving forward.
Take ownership of your daily activity, be intentional and commit to doing at least one thing every day that contributes to the work you do and the impact you can make. 

Manage your key OTHERS: In this period … connection matters more than ever. Carolyne Gregoire wrote in The Huffington Post that this is the ‘decade of isolation’ and this was before Covid-19 kicked in. Now is not a time for hard core sales hustle. Care first and foremost.  Reach out to your network, team, clients, suppliers and friends. Ask how they are really, really doing?  Listen. Explore. Share fears. Share ideas and the things that are working.  

Manage YOU: Who you are and what you do matters more than ever. Hope is not a strategy. You are the strategy. You are the key to change. But how can you be the brilliant and best version of yourself, taking the right action or making the right decisions if you are overwhelmed, over-exhausted and over it? How can you possibly find the space for perspective and clarity if you aren’t looking after yourself? If we bury our own needs right now and keep pushing and pushing; if we forget to attach the oxygen mask to ourselves first; then we will collapse mentally and physically and be of no help to anyone.

What do you have to do to ensure you are functioning in the way your team, organisation and family need you to function right now?

You already know the answers for you. Take a moment to think about:

  • Your daily practices that keep you present and centred.
  • How you rejuvenate to ensure you can function appropriately.
  • Identify your personal inner circle of confidantes that will support you.

Every single one of us must choose to swim with the tide

We have to evolve and change direction, unlearn and relearn so that together we can adapt and face this battle head on.  We have to choose to remain calm and not panic, to do what needs to be done so that together we can swim out of this rip and eventually head back to shore, to be in a position to place our feet in the sand and to do what needs to be done to restart again.


Janine Garner is a global thought leader on powerful networking, collaboration and transformational leadership. A highly sought-after keynote speaker, educator and best-selling author, Janine works with high-profile global leaders, and helps many of Australia’s top 50 ASX companies and multinationals. Her new book Be Brilliant – how to lead a life of influence (Wiley) was published in June.

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