Times of transition and uncertainty are inevitable. The ideal way of getting through these times is through a balance between acceptance of this inevitability, and taking responsibility and action for getting past it- based on strong vision for the future.
Right now is hungry season in Malawi. The time of year between the rainy and dry seasons; right before the harvest when food stocks from last year are at their lowest or are completely gone. Men and women wander the towns and countryside looking to do piece-work in exchange for food or money, cases of petty theft and crime go on the rise, and there’s an increased atmosphere of uncertainty and even desperation.
Malawians are already experts at acceptance of fate, but often to the point of complacency. Individuals and families ideally would have planned their consumption for the year according to their harvest, and taken charge of generating other sources of income to bridge any gaps, long before the hungry season came around.
At the same time there has been much longer-term economic uncertainty in the entire country. Malawi doesn’t produce enough exports to gain foreign exchange currency to buy basic necessities, like fuel and medicine, from outside the country. Electricity is sold to neighbouring countries so that fuel can be bought, but black-outs in Malawi then double in frequency and length. Forex for importing consumer goods is diverted to buy crucial medicines, but shelves in shops then go bare. One shortage is simply exchanged for another, and it’s never known what the next unavailable thing will be.
The government is already an expert at generating excuses and temporary fixes, but leadership needs to take responsibility and action. Strong governance decisions, along with planning for long-term solutions, and smart economic policy are what is needed.
Even the EWB WatSan team is in a time of uncertainty and transition. New leaders look to define their roles, outgoing leaders look to pass on their knowledge and provide coaching through the transition. Many people will be soon leaving the team, most peoples’ futures are undefined and full of unknowns. Even funding availability for the remaining people on the team is uncertain.
The team has to redesign the way it works, and create a strategic plan for the year despite all the unknowns, all while avoiding overstressing and burning-out.
I am also among the people in a time of transition and uncertainty. The planning for my own upcoming hungry season is already running behind. My vision and purpose for the future needs to drive focused actions, so that I can maintain my productivity and sustenance in the coming future.
I have to take charge of my own situation and hustle to get to the place I want to be, while accepting that times of transition and uncertainty are inevitable and universal, and avoiding unproductive worrying and stress.
In all situations complacency isn’t an option. The situation is already upon us. Strong leadership needs to guide intelligent actions based on strong vision and purpose. Searching for piecework after the hard times hit, or exchanging shortages aren’t the right type of solutions.
So if you’re in a time of uncertainty and transition, take comfort in how you will grow and learn in getting through it, relax, then
“Motivate, accelerate, never wait, know your weight, throw away hate
Grow and make great of your older days
Elevate, concentrate, get your focus straight and orchestrate fate
Just motivate, accelerate, never wait, show the way, no escape
Take hold and shift shape, live a longer day
Elevate, concentrate, get your focus straight and orchestrate fate…”
(from “Release” by Blackalicious)