Navigating Unchartered Waters by Steering Your Own Ship


Image by Anele Biscarra

Have you ever found yourself (literally or figuratively) in unchartered, rocky waters? Perhaps there was a feeling of not knowing what was going to happen next, how big the waves were going to hit, or not knowing when the rockiness would end. While you may not have been able to control ocean waves itself, there may have been ways to “steer” the ship–what you had control over, to an extent, was your own personal reaction to what was happening and how you were going to navigate and thrive.

Some of you may feel that the uncertainty happening on campus currently is similar to the rocky waters. Bob Miglani, author of the Washington Post bestseller book “Embrace the Chaos”states that we all live in uncertainty, change, and turbulence–both in and outside of work.

In his YouTube clip entitled “How to Deal with Change at Work: 3 Steps to Success,” Miglani outlines 3 key points:

  • Accept that change happens. Accept that you can only control yourself. Recognize what you have control over (i.e., your own projects, how you treat other colleagues, the help you provide students) and concentrate on that. This will provide you a sense of moving forward and feeling less stuck due to external changes and decisions outside of your control.
  • Try to not overthink. Miglani states that this leads to self-doubt and apprehension for future. Our minds our often wired to go to the negative, and tries to get certainty but not going to get that. As much as we would all like to predict what is exactly going to happen in the future, we simply cannot.
  • Take action–do something, participate, create something new. Miglani argues that during uncertainty, this is the best time to make a contribution in the here and now. Setting one new goal and going after it will help give you clarity to move forward.

If you are a manager or supervisor, here are 3 things that you can do, starting today:

  • Reflect on your own personal experience outside of work with uncertainty and change. How did you ride that “wave?” Think about what resilience strategies you used in the past, and how you can bring that same sense to your team. 
  • In your 1:1 meetings, ask staff members how they are feeling about the recent organizational uncertainties. Brainstorm as their thought partner about what they have control over in their wheelhouse.
  • Dedicate 5 minutes during a staff meeting for staff members to think about what they will “take action” in regards to departmental goals. This will incite new ideas and contributions that may not have been thought of before.

For further resources, check out the following:






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