Un-VUCA Your Workplace

The U.S. Army War College introduced the acronym “VUCA” in 1987 to describe the post-Cold War world: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. Workplace experts have since embraced the acronym as well, teaching corporate leaders to analyze problems through the framework of VUCA to help facilitate effective solutions.

The VUCA nature of the workplace can also help explain why it feels more stressful. Employees are struggling to cope with constant change, the inability to predict what is coming, and seemingly infinite variables in their day-to-day work.

There’s no quick fix to make the workplace less VUCA. Stress has two inputs: the circumstances and the employee’s reaction to the circumstances. Since circumstances are often difficult (if not impossible) to control, employees who want to reduce their stress should take time to learn how to control their reaction to the circumstances.

Meditation can help employees learn this skill. The simplest form of meditation is time spent in silence focused on the breath. The mind will wander into other thoughts during this time. The magic of meditation is learning how to identify when the mind has wandered and to redirect the thoughts to the breath.

It’s not necessary to spend hours and hours meditating. A focused, quiet time period of 5-10 minutes each morning spent in silence is enough. The practice of identifying the mind wandering and refocusing the mind to the breath, when practiced consistently over time, will help an individual build the ability to control their reaction to challenging circumstances in the workplace.

The idea that we can control our own experience of stress can be life-changing. It doesn’t require extensive study or expensive classes; all it requires is a willingness to re-frame your perception.