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Learning to Combat Uncertainty | Paul Matthews | #LetsResetNormal


Milton Keynes, UK

Future Shock is a 1970 book by futurist Alvin Toffler, in which he defines the term “future shock” as a psychological state of mind brought on by a personal perception of “too much change in too short a period of time”.

Sound familiar? Life has changed due to the pandemic and it certainly doesn’t feel normal. And it won’t feel normal until a new normal establishes itself.

How do we insulate ourselves against future shock?

Once upon a time, there was a stream, tumbling over stones and winding slowly through the fields and hedgerows. A storm came, and the heavy rain washed off the hills. The stream changed. How could it not?

The once placid and predictable stream, where you could see the fish and plants waving gently in the flow, became an unpredictable monster. The muddy water escaped the banks and threatened many in its path, even those way downstream from the rains.

Who knows how long the rain will last or where it will fall next? But one thing we know for sure, the rains will pass.

As the rains pass, so to, sometime later, the flood will subside and reveal a landscape transformed by the force of nature. Eventually, the muddy water will once again run clear as the stream flows in its new path, changed forever.

Stay out of the storm if you can, stay safe from the floods, and despite the uncertainty of what the storm will bring, make your plans; then hold them lightly for they will need to adapt as the water clears and clarity returns.

What will we see?

How do we prepare ourselves for what is coming?

How do we insulate ourselves against future shock?

While we can’t predict what will be left after the storm, what we can predict for certain is that there will be change. In order to thrive, or even just survive, in times of change, we must change. We will need to do new things, or old things in different ways. We will need to learn.

You could, of course, wait for things to settle into a new normal and then decide what you need to learn. You could do that. But is that sensible? Why wait? Besides, doing something proactive to secure your future feels better than doing nothing, and doing some learning is a ‘no-regrets’ move. You can’t lose.

Then your question becomes: ‘What should I learn?’

What you set out to learn will of course depend on your circumstances and the time you have available. For many people now based at home, no commute, and perhaps even on furlough from their job, this is a real opportunity.

Think. How will your job change? What jobs will be in demand in the new normal?

We don’t have a crystal ball, but you might like to explore the web for what the different futurists are saying about the impact of the pandemic. For example, there is a predicted baby boom around January and February 2021.

Sit down with an appropriate drink in hand and daydream about what the future could look like. Write down a brief description of a few likely scenarios that relate to you, your industry, your current skill set. Next, make a note on what you would need to do to thrive in each scenario. Then you can figure out what knowledge and skills you will need to support the new behaviour.

Get clear on whether you really need to learn something, or if knowing where to find it quickly and easily when you need it is enough. A skill worth learning is to become good at finding what you need to know.

With the lockdown, you will need to find ways to learn online, so where do you find online learning?

What does your company offer? Look at education providers like the Open University, with its vast range of free learning content. It is also remarkable how much learning is being made available online for free by learning suppliers who want to help. Your search engine is your friend, so perhaps the first thing to search for is ‘how to use search engines effectively’. There are many simple tricks to get much more focused search results.

Imagine yourself in 12 months’ time, looking back on how you reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic. What would you like to remember about how you handled it?

Some are saying the overall effect of this pandemic will be the biggest thing to happen in a generation. What stories do you want to tell your children and grandchildren about how you survived and thrived in such uncertain times?

Now – take action and learn so you have a good story to tell.

For further information

Surviving the Coronavirus Lockdown and Social Isolation is a guide to creating a new normal in a changing world. Download a copy of the ebook for free now.

Get your free copy of the book here.

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Learning to Combat Uncertainty | Paul Matthews | #LetsResetNormal

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