MOVING FORWARD: from resilience to realistic optimism

by Lori Zahn
August 2011

stonesWait and see. Is this what you’re thinking as the economy sputters around you; your staff and budgets remain constrained; your workload remains high; and you wait for the next shoe to drop? As you wait and see what happens, do you sense that the rules of the game have changed… economic recovery and growth may not be right around the corner … your opportunities at work may be more limited …your employer’s expectations may have changed?  And maybe you feel you have less control over your future now.

In my work in leadership development, I see many career professionals struggle with the “wait and see” dilemma. People feel deeply unsettled by the prolonged economic uncertainty. There’s a “hunkering down” and a frozen state that persists. They’re exhausted from the ongoing demands of their work. And they are cautious about making changes. At the same time, I see among many people a growing boredom at work, a sense that time is passing them by, and a pent-up desire for change.  Therein is the dilemma.       

Rather than hitting the pause button or hunkering down while you see how the future shakes out, you can instead take the opportunity to lay the groundwork for your future, even in these uncertain times.  The current economic climate may be with us for a while.  And the changes that have ensued have surely changed the shape of the work world as we know it.  There is no going back to what was.  There is, however, an opportunity to move forward into what can be. 

The opportunity and learning here is this: Now is a good time to expand your thinking, do your homework, and maybe grow new roots. Look around and reassess where you are in light of your current situation. Search out opportunities in your work to contribute in different ways, to bring your strengths to the table, and to learn new skills. Redefine your role in ways that add value. Network with people you can share strategies with for navigating the new business climate. And get insight from your colleagues on how to enrich and expand. These are all strategies to make the most of where you are and help you move forward.