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Bronwen Sciortino on How To Navigate Uncertainty.

Bronwen Sciortino, International Author & Simplicity Expert, sheIQ Life

Could you please share a bit about yourself, your background, and the journey that has led you to become an entrepreneur? What makes your perspective unique on the subject of leadership and navigating uncertainty?

I grew up in a pristine environment, living in Tasmania (which is the main island at the bottom of Australia). I loved being outdoors and split my time between playing sport (of any and every kind) and being in nature with my animals. I went to University thinking that I knew what I wanted to do with my life and came out having no idea what was next or what I wanted to 'be'. Without much thought, I found myself in my first full time job in the financial services and funds management industry. I stayed in this industry for almost two decades, pushing myself beyond my limits and forcing myself to 'stay the course' and work hard. Then, in less than 60 seconds, my whole world shattered around me and I found myself in a million pieces, my whole life in tatters. I had pushed too hard one time too many. It took me three years to rebuild my life, picking up each piece and determining whether it was needed moving forward and then searching for the pieces I needed to fill the gaps and be whole again. I like to say that I'm an 'accidental entrepreneur' because during this time of recovery, I wrote my first book - Keep It Super Simple. As that went out into the world it resonated so strongly with people that they started asking me for other ways to work with me and I suddenly found myself in the position of still recovering but also having a global business to deal with. This began my journey of finding ways to simplify life so that I could create a platform that would allow me to be healthy, happy AND highly successful. Today, I create tools and resources and am sourced as a global expert in simplicity because I teach people how to simply and easily create steps that tailor make the life that is perfect for them.

You and your business have presumably faced some interesting challenges and changes over the years. Can you describe a key moment when you felt uncertainty was at its peak?

There have been many times over the years when uncertainty has been the only focus of the day. We can get very busy at seeing things as being either 'good' or 'bad' when the reality is that when we pair things back and take the emotion out of the equation what we're left with is a set of information that allows us to make choices. I've had circumstances where I've had news about health issues and I've had to work out how what I need to do to accommodate my recovery and the needs of the business. I've had situations where a massive project I'm working on has thrown a curve ball 1/4 of the way in, that created a values clash and I've had to review the situation and decide whether continuing is feasible. There have been times when I've had revenue streams disappear overnight and I've had to find the next steps forwards. The thing is, life happens. The only constant that we can rely on is change, so it's really important to get comfy with it and make firm friends because it's going to be the one companion you can count on being there for the long-term.

From your experience, what are the core principles or values that guide a leader during uncertain times?

Everyone should have their own set of values that they can turn to when making decisions about next steps or trying to find the way forward. 'Values' have somehow found themselves being the focus of what to do when times are tough, but if you use them to determine all your steps then you often find that the tough time don't happen as often and, when they do you can get yourself out of them more quickly. There is no one-size-fit-all set of 'perfect' or 'core' values that can be turned to when you need help. Values are a really personal thing. What is important to me, may have no meaning for someone else so it is important for each individual to spend the time creating and developing their own set of values that they can use to guide their way in their life.

How do you cultivate a culture of resilience and adaptability within your team? Can you share a practical example where this culture made a significant difference?

Resilience is the ability to have a challenge rise, be able to deal with it and move on without the impact of the challenge taking too much of a toll. These days, we hear a lot about the need to be more and more resilient to be able to cope with the increased stress in life. I believe that there's another way to look at the challenges that modern-day life brings. By it's very nature, resilience is all about taking the strain of something and being able to carry the load without bending or breaking. But if you allow the load to get too big and/or too heavy then eventually you have no option but to collapse under the weight. Instead of trying to build resilience so that you can carry more, I believe that it's better to reduce the impact of the weight you're carrying and lighten the load so you don't need to go anywhere near the breaking point. You can do this by asking simple questions that help you to pinpoint where the stress point are in your life and then create simple, easy and practical steps that release the stress from your system. For example, when I recently had a massive issue arise with a big project I was working on, it had an immediate impact with lots of stress around the contract not continuing and all the flow on effect of having that cease. So, the immediate reaction was to go to a place of fear and stress, but then with the use of simple questions I was able to separate the facts from the emotion and work out what it would mean to remain working on the project versus what I would gain from walking away. My resilience came to the forefront because I was able to move quickly beyond the emotion and find the facts that would help me move forward in the way that was best for me.

Many aspiring leaders struggle with the fear of failure, especially when the path ahead is unclear. What strategies or mental frameworks have you developed to overcome this fear and embrace uncertainty as an opportunity?

The path ahead is always unclear. It always has been and always will be. There will always be uncertainty, that will never change. The way I deal with this is to take the 'good' and the 'bad', 'success' and 'failure' out of the equation. For me, there's simply a situation in front of me that offers access to opportunities. While ever we're afraid of things, we allow fear to place boundaries around the things we're prepared to try. Create a mindset of 'adventure' and 'explore' and you'll automatically give yourself permission to play in your own life. If something doesn't work, then you've got a great set of information that tells you that you don't need to keep going down that pathway so turn around and go in a different direction and try something else instead. When you drop the focus on 'success' and 'failure' you drop the stress out of your life.

In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes leaders make during uncertain times? Can you offer a real-life example where recognizing and avoiding such a mistake led to success?

The number 1 mistake leaders make in times of uncertainty is not trusting themselves to know what is the right decision for them to make. So many people turn to others around them to tell them what to do. The problem with this is that you are assuming that other people know all the ins and outs of the situation and that they are looking at the situation with the same filters and the same depth of knowledge that you have. Sure, ask people that you trust and whose opinion you respect for their thoughts, but always base your decision on your knowledge and wisdom. You're the leader for a reason. Stand behind that. The perfect example of this was when I was first starting my business. I had spent almost two decades in the corporate world, the last decade of that in senior management and senior executive positions. When I started my own business, I changed industries and found myself believing that I knew nothing about what I was doing. So, I sourced the industry leaders and got their expert opinion on how I needed to structure my business for success and then obediently did exactly what I was told. And I HATED my business. I didn't want to turn up to work for myself, I didn't want to do the things I was told I needed to do and I found a million other things that were so much more important than the things I was 'supposed' to be doing. It wasn't until I stepped back, looked at what I had created and realised that the whole business was about something and focused around something that I wasn't really interested in that I could make the changes needed to restructure my business to be something I was aligned to and passionate about. I needed to remember the wisdom, knowledge and experience that I carry and rely on that more than on the opinion of someone else.

Looking towards the future, how do you plan to continue evolving your leadership style to meet new uncertainties and challenges? What advice would you give to others looking to do the same?

My leadership style is naturally evolving because I don't see challenges as the enemy or as a foe. I love challenges because they give me an opportunity to see a thread and deliberately pull it so I can unravel things that are holding me in place. For me, challenge is an opportunity to grow and every time I grow, I find new and amazing adventures awaiting me on the other side.

You've clearly demonstrated a willingness to learn and grow through experience. Are there any books, mentors, or resources that have particularly influenced your leadership style? How would you recommend others to approach their leadership development journey?

I am an avid learner so I learn from everything and everyone I come across. You can learn so many things from so many genre's. For me, it's about keeping my mind open and allowing the perspectives to come flooding in. I look at things through a curious gaze and allow whatever is coming to me to come without any judgement. There have been books I've loved that have been criticized for their poor grammar, but I haven't noticed because the story has taken me on a journey anyway. There are books that others have labelled as 'boring' that I have loved because they have triggered a thought process that has enabled me to see the world in a different way. There have been books that have sold millions of copies that tell people what they should and shouldn't be doing and they've simply made me sad that so many people are now out there struggling to make someone else's instructions work in their lives. Inspiration is a powerful thing. It's also a really personal thing so I would say, find your inspiration from the tools and resources that help you to find your own way, rather than from the ones that tell you what you have to do to be successful.

For those who want to learn more about your leadership philosophy or explore the products and services offered by your company, what's the best way to connect with you or find out more about your work?


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