Money advice: How to deal with change and uncertainty


In his regular money advice column Dave Deruytter looks at how to deal with the huge changes and deep uncertainty in today’s world.

Making the best of the business world as it undergoes huge and fast change, which engenders high uncertainty in its governance, takes a bold yet simple approach.

The speed of change in the world of business has probably never before been as fast as in recent years; and it does not look like slowing down any time soon. The governance of our world has rarely been as uncertain as it is today. Brexit is looming, international trade rules are in trouble, some countries seem to be doubting whether democracy is the best way to govern their people. Sadly, both these trends are creating new divides between people.

The digitally capable and the digitally incapable can be seen from two angles: not being able to afford digital tools, or not being able to understand or use them.

There is also the new divide between the confident, who can weather, or even thrive during the fast changes and uncertainty in this world, and the hesitant, or prudent, who are at risk of freezing in their actions and no longer getting anything done because they lack stable governance or a business framework.

These two new divides add to the typical divides we have known for centuries: the rich and the poor, the educated and the illiterate, the healthy and the sick…

How to make the best of all of that?
I recently saw a short video on YouTube titled ‘Why worry… about anything’. It goes like this. Do you have a problem? If not, why worry? If yes, can you do something about it? If not, why worry? If yes, why worry? Indeed, if you can do something about it, do it, do not just moan about the problem. Conclusion: there is never a good reason to worry.

This simplistic, yet pragmatically correct view of things also applies to our contemporary world full of change and uncertainty. Make sure to go with the change, to learn, to understand, to adapt when it is useful, to do your bit.

Easier said than done? Yes and no.

As the Chinese proverb says “even a voyage of a thousand miles, starts with one step”. The key is to keep on moving forward – change always has its positive side. Not only is it essential for us to keep on improving and for competition to keep on wielding power in our business world, it is intellectually attractive. It is fun to be part of change. On the negative side, one can never sleep on past performance. There is a need to keep on improving all the time. To do more with less, or much more with a little bit more.

Still, if newcomers arrive on your turf, they will not only keep you sharp, they should make you work on your strengths to be able to withstand their ‘attack’. Furthermore, why not ‘attack’ other economic sectors yourself based on your strengths by taking advantage of a ‘green field approach’?