Eight Strategies to Think Creatively in Times of Uncertainty
The novel Coronavirus has drastically altered the business landscape and created a heightened appetite for change. Now more than ever, business leaders across industries and geographies are called to fiercely rise to the challenge of uncertainty. They’re emboldened by their managers, peers and the broader business community to charge ahead with relentless optimism, tenacity, determination and drive – often without any blueprint or playbook in mind. In this new economic climate, they’re compelled to chart their own path forward, think more creatively and make a powerful difference every day.
Yet how can organizations leverage strategic communications and creative problem solving to effectively help their people, clients and communities survive (and thrive) in times of intense anxiety, unease, analysis paralysis and ambiguity? How can they effectively broaden their horizons, strengthen their aptitude for adaptability and explore all possibilities?
According to Marie Forleo, host of the award-winning MarieTV and The Marie Forleo Podcast, the answer lies in one simple mantra – “Everything is Figureoutable.” Forleo’s growth-mindset inspired philosophy is the conviction we all need to find resilience, resourcefulness and hope – when and where we need it most.
If your creative problem-solving muscles could use a reboot, consider these eight critical steps to “figureoutable” success:
- Train your brain for growth. Instead of saying “I know this already,” or “This won’t work for me, my clients, or my business,” ask yourself “What can I learn from this?” and “How can this work for my company and/or my clients in this uncertain landscape?” According to Forleo, “This mindset forces you to look beyond the obvious, stretch outside your cognitive zone and poke holes in your status quo.” Ultimately, this strategy will help train your brain to find new connections, crack new codes and consider new ideas that might have been overlooked otherwise.
- Embrace the power of belief: Our minds give us the power to turn idea seeds and dreams into a blossoming reality. While our minds are magic, Forleo asserts that “our beliefs are the force that underpins every action we take.” When you reframe self-limiting beliefs, you pave the way for new creative solutions to emerge.
- Eliminate excuses. One of the biggest obstacles holding us back is our excuses. If you’re committed to figuring things out, you must relentlessly challenge these little lies you tell yourself. Remove “I can’t” from your vocabulary. Usually, this translates to “I won’t.” It signals to your brain and everyone around you that it’s not your priority. For instance, it’s not that you can’t get up at 6am tomorrow and do a virtual workout or break in your new Peloton bike, it’s that you won’t. So, get out of your own way and just do it. You might surprise yourself!
- Tame your fear. No matter what you want to accomplish in your career or personal life, fear will be present throughout your journey to the finish line. But fear is not the enemy, it’s often a signpost, pointing us in right direction. When you feel that discomfort brewing in your belly, it’s usually a sign that your breakthrough is just on the other side. Forleo believes that “the fastest way out of fear is through it.” So make that call to a new business lead, prospective customer or reporter even if your palms are sweating, speak up in the meeting even if you don’t have all the pertinent facts, and share your ideas and recommendations even if you aren’t 100% confident it won’t fall flat. To be successful in taming your fear, it’s important to carefully assess the probability of your worst-case scenario coming to fruition and then create an action plan for how you’d resolve it. Then flip the script and create your best-case scenario, outlining the new opportunities that may rise to the surface if you move forward.
- Define your dream. Creating actionable, specific, realistic and measurable goals is the first step to success. Better yet, if you write it down and commit it to memory, studies have shown that you’ll have a 42% higher chance of achieving it.
- Start before you’re ready. This step is often the hardest for the type-A, data-driven perfectionists out there (myself included!).Yet Forleo maintains that, “all progress begins with a brave decision, so you must ignore the voice in your head that says, I’m not ready yet.” She advises to beware of procrastination disguised as research and planning (this is especially true when writing a contributed article, perspective, whitepaper or other thought-ware content that requires diligent preparation), get your skin in the game and value growth and learning over comfort and certainty.
- Aim for progress not perfection. Taking the sixth strategy one layer deeper, it’s important to reimagine your measuring stick. Ask yourself: Did I make progress? Did I apply effort and learn and grow? Take small steps, plan ahead for problems that may arise, expect and embrace self-doubt, and have patience – progress is truly all you’re after.
- Assemble activators of change. At A.wordsmith, we’re passionate believers that teamwork makes the dream work. Identify and galvanize your own “figureoutable” tribe, and together, anything is possible.
Creativity, ability and adaptability isn’t a fixed skillset. It’s a muscle that can be strengthened with consistent practice and refinement over time. With the right mindset, any organization is poised to figure it out and thrive during these unprecedented times.