Being Certain About Uncertainty

by Onyeka Nchege on October 11, 2016

For many – as a result of globalization, outsourcing, contracting, downsizing, recession and even unforeseen circumstances – “job security” may seem a lot more like wishful thinking than a current truth. It’s an unfortunate reality for thousands of workers across the country and that reality is not easy to live with when we have daily reminders from the media, our peers and our personal experiences. 

A sense of “job security” provides us with a sense of certainty and that sense of certainty provides us with a sense of comfort. However, that sense of certainty, not only provides us with that warm sense of comfort, it also tends to usher stagnation and inactivity into our lives. To loosely quote something I read before, “certainty means that we have arrived at a place of static wisdom.” When you are certain about things, then you no longer have to think of creative solutions, which can divert you from innovation.     

I remember some years ago at a previous company when we announced to the IT department that our company was moving in a different technological direction. As the CIO then, I fielded so many questions from entry-level teammates to directors about each of their individual and uncertain fates. The only frustrating answer I could provide with certainty is that I didn’t know what the certain outcome was going to be for anyone, because this was a completely new venture for everyone in our organization. During this time, I made it a point to be more present, visible and accessible to everyone in our department as a help to everyone’s mental transition. 

I noticed that there were some individuals who remained very quiet during this period and that really worried me, because, though we were transitioning to a new, externally-hosted platform, we still needed people with vast Company-knowledge and broad, valuable skill sets. Many of those who were being quiet fell into that category of knowledgeable with great skill sets, and I feared that they were planning for something more certain than their uncertain futures at the company. So I made it a point to have private conversations with some of these individuals, and what I learned from each of them was interesting.

None of them were planning on leaving, at least not at that point; and none of them seemed alarmed by the uncertainty that lay ahead. They all sort of conveyed the same point about when the transition to the new platform was complete and what that meant for their individual fates. To each of them, the transition was not seen as an ending, but as a beginning of something new; and the only uncertainty was whether that something new was going to happen at that company or somewhere else.

I found the mindset of those individuals remarkable, and wanted to understand how they arrived at that perspective versus the many others who walked a very different path. As I thought of each one of them individually, I remembered why I made it a point to reach out to them. Each of these people were vastly knowledgeable and had strong skill sets, which they had made a point to nurture and grow over their years with the company. These individuals had prepared themselves for the certainty of uncertainty. 

As leaders of our lives, and in times of adversity, our perspective can be our only saving grace. Perspective allows us to view unforeseen events as obstacles or opportunities. In uncertainty,

  • We have an opportunity to impact and influence both the change and the outcome. 
  • We have an opportunity to demonstrate tenacity and purpose. 
  • We have an opportunity to continue to carry out our vision with momentum. 
  • We have an opportunity to ensure that we keep pace and stay relevant, avoiding the possibility of becoming stagnant. 

As the old adage goes, “the only thing certain in life is uncertainty.” You cannot control it, but you can control you and the way you handle it – that’s the only thing certain about uncertainty.

Take Action: How are you handling change?  

Leadership on the GO…..It’s O.N


I Saw a Servant’s Heart

by Onyeka Nchege on September 3, 2016

Servants Heart Business leaders often talk about forward thinking, “seeing the big picture,” or maintaining a 30,000-foot perspective.

These phrases are all too familiar, but this week, one man I spoke with offered the highest perspective of all. He removed himself from a very difficult, personal situation and with a single gesture, he left a lasting impression. Here’s what happened:

In business, leaders and executives will have to make tough decisions from time to time – it’s part of the job – the kind of decisions that will impact the lives of others, the kind that have nothing to do with poor performance or lack of discipline. No, sometimes those decisions are made purely based on corporate strategy and direction.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve actually had to make those kinds of decisions in the past. In fact, that’s how I got involved in the conversation that inspired this post. It was a conversation with Rob, a talented man I have a ton of respect for that sadly, I no longer had a position for.

You know how it goes. I had had this same conversation I was having with Rob a few times already, and I knew I’d have it a few times more before the day was over. But something about this particular conversation struck a chord – his parting words, I wasn’t prepared for his parting words. He said, “What can I do for you?”

I just made a decision that would have a tremendous impact on his life – and the lives of his fellow team members – and Rob offered to pray and tend to others before himself. 
My mission is plastered across the top of this page: “Impacting lives in a positive manner.” At Interstate, we really do bring our “whole selves” to work – your personal life isn’t something you can just put away until closing time.

Nothing mixes personal with professional like those tough conversations, especially when you know the individual has a family to support, a family you’ve come to know quite well. Truth be told, those days don’t feel nearly as “on-mission” as others.

So, in this moment of selflessness, even with the magnitude of the situation at hand, for Rob to ask how he could care for another heart-sore individual was truly astonishing.

So few of us carry that particular presence of mind. What’s more, even can access it in times of distress. But those who carry such a presence of mind do so knowing God has a plan, a vision far beyond that very moment; He sees the light in times of abundant darkness. God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle.

In that moment, God turned my mission around and inside-out through this young man whose words impacted my life in such a powerful, positive manner. I truly believe this was a superhuman caring from the servant’s heart of the Most High, and I’ll never forget it.

As leaders, we work toward a futuristic outlook, a 30,000-foot perspective. But the reality is that there’s nothing more futuristic than eternity, and no perspective is more clear than omniscience.

This moment may have lasted just two minutes – but in the context of hours, people, industries and global forces – it’s impact will stick with me for life.

Take Action: Servant’s heart is more than just talk… requires action. Let your light shine.

Leadership on the GO…..It’s O.N.


High Five Your Neighbor……It’s Time for a New Bus

August 23, 2016

A bus armed with explosives and passengers is traveling down a busy city street. The bus cannot be slowed down or accelerated or the bomb will detonate. The only way to save the passengers is to pull up a new bus alongside the old bus and transfer passengers one by one.” Most people will recognize […]

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Perception is Reality, and Reality isn’t Always Kind

June 15, 2016

“You were not open to feedback. Not only did you come across disinterested in receiving any feedback at all, but you seemed disinterested in any clarity surrounding the feedback you were provided with. In fact, you came across quite strong, you came across as if you were ready for war.” I can still remember those […]

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Failure Is Not the Opposite of Success, It’s Part of It.

June 1, 2016

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time,” said Thomas Edison. Just over a year ago, I wrote a post entitled,“Life Beyond an Epic Fail,” in which I talked about three leadership principles you can engage to overcome a failure, ensuring it […]

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