We plan, we organise ourselves, we budget, we set goals.
But sometimes life just gets in the way.
For much of what I write and teach around self-leadership and personal productivity, I use myself as the laboratory. This approach seems to me to be the way of integrity. As someone once claimed, “We eat our own dog food!” I understand that.
Silver Sofa Surfers
Over the last eleven weeks, my wife and I have been in transition, moving from Oxfordshire to Kent, about two hours’ driving distance from each other. We left our old place on 2nd August, a home we had lived in for more than 28 years, without regret, but with thanks for many happy memories.
However, the purchase of our new home fell through. Such is the way of things quite often in the English housing market.
We did not let this distress us, so we set about finding a new home, and so we did. Within a matter of 24 hours, we found one we liked very much, put an offer in, and it was accepted. However, it will not be until next week that we will finally move in.
That will make 11 weeks altogether. We were not dismayed. We are blessed with wonderful children and generous friends. So we have spent the late summer and early autumn moving from home to home.
One friend called us recently ‘Silver Sofa Surfers.’ I like that. We’ve been learning in this odyssey, learning about ourselves and others. For example, each new home we’ve moved into, we have found we had to adapt to their unique environment and constraints. It’s amazed us how different people’s kitchen storage and waste systems are, for example.
Not having a permanent residential address has created its problems as we engaged with some agencies. It seems that their systems cannot cater for our situation.
All the while I’ve attempted to publish articles on this site where and when I can. Finding places to work undistracted and uninterrupted was a challenge. In Leading Yourself online I explain ways high-performers order their private worlds, so I have sought to live this out, even on the move. I have continued to prioritize using my daily MIT technique. During this period I have calmed myself by reminding myself, “This is only temporary. When we move in October …”
All was going well, until...
Last week, though, uncertainty in our lives reached new levels. My wife’s hip gave out putting her into the most extreme pain and immobilising her for several days. We canceled a short holiday we were about to take in Mallorca, visiting more remote members of our family. The flight we should have been on was with Monarch Airlines. Forty-five minutes after our scheduled take-off, Monarch Airlines ceased trading! Explaining all this to our travel insurers became very interesting.
Dealing with Extreme Uncertainty
So what am I learning in, what is for me, extreme uncertainty?
It’s at times like this that I am brought vividly to face reality that ‘life’ is lived with one’s body, soul, and spirit.
There is a verse in the Psalms that has come to mean a lot to me:
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but the Lord is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
When Routine Fails Us
We all need to accept that in extreme situations, even tried and trusted personal workflows will be interrupted and fail us. We need to dig deep. We need to look into our spirit and find what is unchanging.
I’m fascinated, for example, by the concept of the fulcrum, in leading change. We all need to find the unchanging, the fixed, the certain. Everything else can change around us, but one thing needs to remain fixed.
We all need a fulcrum, an unchanging pivot point in a context of change.
What Matters Most
Ultimately it comes down to what matters most. What is my one priority in this moment? That is always a valid and clarifying question. For me, I'm very clear on that right now. It is my wife.
'What is my priority in this moment?' is always a powerful and clarifying question.
I’m learning that I must trust God in navigating through these times. I cannot advise people with this methodology or that technique when they are in such circumstances, or worse, in extreme uncertainty. Ultimately it comes down to a matter of faith and meaning.