“We live in a VUCA world”. If you are in the “agile”, “leadership” or business space you may have heard this a few times and some courses teach this. Here is the good news.
The world is not VUCA. But you are. Other humans trained you to be “vuca”.
We humans have a tendency to blame everyone and everything. We transfer our responsibility into the world. And so we invent terms called “vuca” instead of looking at the “vuca” inside of us.
What’s V(olatile) U(ncertain) C(omplex) A(mbiguous) you ask? We invented this term to describe the “modern world” after the “cold war” and we humans use it in military and business as if something we humans are to manage. Blah blah blah.
Do you want to know what is VUCA — you — humans. The world? Nope. Ask the world and she will tell you she is not “vuca”. She would point you back to your own damn self (thank you very much).
The world is only ever in flow. Life and the world are naturally transitory. Life and the world are naturally indeterminate. Examine the Latin root of the words to understand why humans make volatile and uncertain a “thing”. Why do humans make this “wrong”? Because we think too much. Because we meddle too much.
The natural world has zero complexity and ambiguity. The breeze blows, the lake ripples, the leaves sway, the hummingbird chitters at other hummingbirds to leave her magical endless flower alone (the hummingbird feeder). She is chittering right now as I write this blog. It’s hilarious. It’s a game. The other hummingbirds trick her into chasing one while the others land on the feeder. She comes back, and the game starts over again. Nature in flow and no complexity or ambiguity at all.
Only a silly human thinks the world is “vuca”. Humans can be shortsighted, it turns out.
Where volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity come from is you and all humans. Well… humans that live in the depths of what remains of the Amazon basin perhaps don’t buy into this “vuca” nonsense. The humans that live with nature instead of trying to fight nature. Maybe those humans are not “vuca”. Oh, and maybe not a Zen Buddhist monk. But definitely the pope. Sorry about that, catholics.
Leadership or agility teachers may tell you the world is “vuca”. Those teachers are misguided. Don’t listen to them. Those teachers harbor “vuca” in their thinking and in their hearts. “Humans are ‘vuca’” is the accurate statement. If a teacher points to humanity as the “problem”, listen to that teacher. In reality, humans transfer their “vuca” brains and hearts into the world. Humans blame the world for being “vuca”. Silly humans, life is for the living. You don’t see hummingbirds preaching they live in a “vuca” world.
Oh, and any teacher that can’t point to how their personal “vuca” has created a shit ton of mess in their life and the lives of others… they are not your teacher either. All they care about is how special they are and want you to agree with how special they are.
That’s enough pontificating on where “vuca” lives (in case you missed it… you, not the world). So, what do you do about it?
Nothing. But if you insist on “doing” something, try this:
1. Stop blaming the world for being “vuca”.
2. Examine your volatile nature of your thoughts and actions. Volatile as in the Latin root “to fly”. Your thoughts “fly”. Life “flies”. A construct we call “time” “flies”. The world “flies by”… and?? No duh. Life, the world, naturally passes. Life and the world flow. Welcome to the natural order of Life dear human. Stop making life and reality wrong. Be in the flow of your thoughts (by observing them). Be in the natural flow of nature (by observing it). Work with the flow of Life. Create from it, not against it. Notice the predictable, unpredictable nature of you and wonder why you are and how you are.
3. Examine why you need certainty (why you can’t be with “uncertainty”). Allow yourself to have a “duh!” moment and wonder what “certainty” means…” indeterminate time and occurrence. Another duh moment. Life is not “fixed”. The world is never “fixed”. As much as you insist on it being stationary, nope, it flows. Drop the arrogant insistence on needing things, circumstances, humans or life to be “fixed”, determined or settled. It’s that life flows thing again. Sorry to burst your bubble dear human (not really) but the natural order of Life is it flows and is beautifully “uncertain”. Only humans arrogantly insist it be “certain”.
4. Examine where “complexity” comes from. Hint — it’s the humans. The Latin root of the word “complex” means “composed of”. Complexity is the state of being composed of interconnected parts. Yep — that’s the nature of Life. Life interconnects all of Life. Yes, you read that correctly. Only humans fight the interconnected nature of Life. Complexity comes from the disconnected nature of humans. Specifically, the interface of one human with another. Hint — this is because humans learned Algebra, but not the Calculus of human. What exactly is “complex”? This takes deep work — meaning ya gotta examine all your bullshit beliefs and “requirements” for life. Life is rather “simple”. Your thinking and actions are complex. See the problem?
5. Examine ambiguity. The Latin root of the word ambiguous means “to drive both ways”. Imagine driving an automobile when you come to a “Y” in the road. Now imagine trying to “drive both ways” and the car (and you) split in two. You split yourself in two. The world did not split you. You did that. You made a choice to “drive both ways” and then you blamed the world for putting a “Y” in the road. See how that works? Take one path, silly. When that path comes to another “Y” take the next path. Choose. You do anyway (choose, that is). You blame the world for “choosing”. You are always at choice. Your overly complex thinking thinks you are not choosing. See the problem? You again. A useful word describing this phenomenon is “integrity”. Follow one path at a time. Not both at the same time. You see the “Y” and you make yourself divided when you follow both paths. Integrity means to be whole and undivided. Be that. Way more useful than being divided.
From the age of thought (memory) until now, you collected experiences. You stored these experiences in things called “beliefs” and “habits” and body memory. Yes, stuff happened in your life that had you love it, hate it, loath it, be angry at it, be sad with it, rage against it, blame others for it, thank others for it… all the ways you “are” with Life. You think life is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.
Good news, life is volatile and uncertain naturally. And it’s not volatile and uncertain naturally. And it is definitely not complex or ambiguous. Only human thinking makes it so. Human meddling makes it so.
So learn to flow with Life. And learn to be a human who responsibly creates your Life. Later, when you see it, you see that Life flows through you and it does not divide you from it like VUCA humans do… You stop creating life and you allow Life to create from you. Yes, that sounds funny.
How do you learn this? A lot of examination of your bullshit and a lot of subtracting what the human world taught you. A lot of letting go (more subtracting) of grasping. Releasing your insistence that humans and circumstances be other than how they are. Zero control, zero needing to be right.
What you “do” instead is trade thoughts and actions. Noticing one path of thought and shifting to another path of thought. Like the “Y” in the road. Choose the thought leading to the impact and outcomes that serve your calling and that serve the world. That serves Life. No VUCA on that path. Definetely no VUCA on the path of “no thought”. But that is a different topic.
And if you want pragmatic help with your path, there are plenty of resources that help you with that. Only you can end your personal VUCA cycle. If you like books, read those. If you like programs, take those. If you prefer partnership, hire a life or leadership coach. Whatever you do, only you can take those resources and apply it through action. Action (taking the proper branch of the “Y”) is all up to you.
Of all the resources I have read, taken and coached through, my favorite is the Integrative Enneagram. Not a personality assessment but a reveal your hidden core motivation assessment. All the ways you embody VUCA. You are being driven and automatically (blindly) follow the “Y”. Learn to drive instead of being driven. Learn to choose freely.
The Integrative Enneagram shows you how. You do the work. It’s how Life… works.
No, I am not an affiliate for the Integrative Enneagram. I get nothing by you taking the assessment. Well… actually I get something. And this probably sounds “cheesy” to you. I get the joy of living my calling and passing on a potential path for you to transform your VUCA bullshit into serving Life.
The best part is you don’t need me or any coach. You can do it. It starts with looking at your core motivation and shifting this VUCA nonsense into creating your life and then allowing Life. The Integrative Enneagram gives you pragmatic tips on what to do and take action on. The key is action. Get in action that creates different results. Otherwise you stay in your personal VUCA.
I’ve studied the Enneagram for the past 8 years. I’ve been a “do it myself-er” and had a few amazing teachers and guides. I’d read the book “Power of Now” and think WTF is this dude talking about?! And then I would take a long weekend course of being with my human nature. That is when any book I’ve read integrated. That is when I shifted one thought for another to create an impact and outcome that served me and Life.
A coaching partner helps you see what you yet can’t or won’t (refuse) to see, to be a mirror and a guide. I’ve appreciated the many guides, books and courses I’ve had. It’s been a “long” journey. Each year being someone new and having many personal WTF moments.
Life is a process. It always is. Only humans fight the process and create all this “vuca” nonsense.
So, what “vuca” nonsense are you creating in your life? And in the world?
About Phillip — he sometimes writes in the third person to share his street creds. He is playful when not taking himself way to seriously. He now lives his calling as a healer by doing (and continuing to do) the inside work of healing. He shares the art of healing as a professionally certified personal development coach. Find him at www.dearhuman.life