Beyond Shock

Beyond Shock

Shock. And shock. More shock.

A US president-elect who by most everyone’s moral compass engages in objectionable business practices, routinely resorts to offensive rhetoric, flaunts ignorance of complex issues, displays no signs of self-mastery.

Yup. Shock.

I have a hunch Mr. Trump himself is shocked. His followers are shocked. Everyone who didn’t vote for him is shocked. Industry leaders are shocked. In mapping out various election result possibilities, this wasn’t on the sheet, says Mark Bertolini, the chief executive of Aetna. We had no idea how to approach it. (NY Times, 11/12/2016)

What’s on the other side of shock?

Trevor Noah, the quick-witted host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and author of the just-published memoir “Born A Crime,” gets it right. This is about hanging out in the place of not knowing, Noah declares in an interview on NPR the day after the election.

It’s the essential lesson. It always is. The one we learn, again and again.

The leadership insights as we come out of shock are timeless. The moment we submit to not knowing is the moment we begin to discover what to do next. Not knowing does not connote inaction. No, it demands acting from a place of not knowing.

But we know what’s going to happen, you protest. He told us what he will do.

Hey, the future has yet to come. And here, in the present moment, it invariably boils down to two simple leadership choices. Personal choices, professional choices:

  1. Stay in the Present.

Have a plan for the future. Make educated assumptions. Let the assumptions inform your strategy. Go ahead, forecast some outcomes. That’s what great business leaders do, it’s what successful life connoisseurs do. Commit to executing strategy. And keep your mindset fluid.

This, of course, is the infuriating part about strategy. We have a plan to influence the future, and yet we simply don’t know what’s going to happen. WE DON’T. We never ever do. It’s the future, after all. It hasn’t happened yet.

  1. Stay in the Present.

We shape a future, present moment by present moment. With every interaction we schedule. Every spontaneous encounter. Every purposeful argument. Every fleeting comment. Every choice to act. Every choice to not act. Every instinct to engage. Every instinct to avoid. Every decision to get tough. Every decision to be kind. Every reaction to an unexpected turn of events. Every hunch, insight, every glimpse of wisdom. Every nano-second.

When we stay in the moment, we execute strategy better. Period. So stay in the moment. Stay present. Notice. It’s not negotiable. It’s a not a nice-to-have, nice-to-do. There is no sustained strategic impact without being fully engaged with the here and now.

Trevor Noah got it right. It’s a bit uncomfortable, yes, but why the heck would you and I want to lie? I don’t know is the uncomfortable truth.

Lead from truth. Discover from truth. Strategize from truth. Ignite yourself and inspire others from truth.

More personal impact guaranteed.

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Achim Nowak is an author, speaker, C-Suite coach, international authority on personal presence. His book "The Moment: A Practical Guide to Creating a Mindful Life in a Distracted World" (New Page Books) has just been published. His previous books have become prized resources for entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 executives around the globe. Achim and his work have been featured on 60 Minutes, Fox News, NPR, in The New York Times and The Miami Herald.