VUCA: Living in constant Ambiguity. 

The term VUCA have been heard in many places. There are numerous books on the topic. The question is; how does this acronym affect my life? Better yet, what does this mean to me in my daily life? These are good questions to ask. With the current reality of COVID-19 the world has recognized once more that VUCA is a true reality for us all.

VUCA is an acronym, each letter explaining one element of the world we live in.

V – Volatility signifies the high levels of fragility in some elements of life.

U – Uncertainty conveys the unpredictable elements of life.

C – Complexity explains the entanglement of different elements. Many of these elements are often unknown to each other and yet it influences each other.

A – Ambiguity is often referred to the fake news around us. It is often protected by vagueness and obscurity.

The dialogue around VUCA should not make us fearful, it should awaken us to the reality of life and inspire us to cross over to live resiliently within it. The combination of meaning of VUKA in Zulu and Swahili explains this brilliantly. When a Zulu would use this word, the meaning that they convey is one of intense awakening. They are figuratively telling the listener to wake up from their sleep and see what is actually going on. It also means to rise to the occasion. One thing we are definitely forced to do in the COVID-19 scenario. When a Swahili person says VUKA he/she is encouraging the listener to cross-over. It invites us not to stay where we are but to move on to the new.

VUCA is an acronym which should not only be studied in its separate parts. The connection between the different elements needs careful consideration. For example, the Volatile scenario of COVID-19 influences and increases the elements of uncertainty and complexity. It even has an element of ambiguity within it.

During this blog series we will have an in-depth look at each element of the VUCA acronym. This week we look at Ambiguity.


 Life today is filled with fake-news that can be used for manipulative and controlling reasons. It is no longer valuable to ask what is on the news. Even asking “Why is this on the news?” is difficult to answer in a world of immoral agendas. You can have different opinions about the same reality in one home. It all depends on which platforms the family members are exposed to. One family member could live in complete fear of COVID-19 and not even allow themselves to go out to buy food during lock-down. Another family member could see this as an opportunity to connect with loved once and grow specific skills. We see these extreme opposites because of the various information bubbles that’s created by social media platforms, media agencies and other role players. What creates this fog? There are external factors such as news etc. I don’t want to focus on that, let me share with you rather 2 internal factors that creates fog.

  1. The human desire to be right.

We all have a longing to speak. A longing to share. This is good and normal. When we want to force our opinion on others, we start to take away the human rights of others. This leads to extreme measures of sharing news etc. We want to get only our message out. It is human to believe in our message but be careful that is does not confuse and harm people more than help them.

  1. The speed of life.

Even though it sounds like an external factor, this is internal. We rush through life and we don’t take time to listen to others. We don’t make time to actively try and understand the point of view of someone else. Sometimes there is not even time to share my thoughts. I just check what is said on a group chat. I want to respond but I don’t take time to respond. The result, the other people in the group is robbed of a different view that could have enriched the conversation. This leads to missing beautiful moments of sharing life and perspectives.

How do we see through the thick fog to discern bits of truth in chaos? There are various tips, I will share 3 with you.

  1. What is in my reach to control?

Fake-news can bread fear and leave us paralyzed. Feeling as if we cannot control anything. This is partially true. There are things that are in your locus of control. Find out what that is. Focus on these aspects. In the midst of a storm a captain cannot focus on all the information he/she gets. They choose to focus on the elements they can control and steer themselves and others into peaceful weather. You and I cannot control the weather but there are things that we can control.

  1. Be careful of general statements.

Being paralyzed by all the ambiguity can lead us into only looking down. Down into the same place. We start to see a filthy wall just because we stand in front of the only dot on the wall. All of a sudden, we make general statements such as: this wall is dirty, the entire wall needs to be cleaned. Ask yourself: is it really the entire wall that is dirty? Questioning generalizations is good food for thought.

  1. Broaden your perspective.

It is always interesting to hear the perspective of others on South Africa. People who have not even traveled to our beautiful country have something to say. Although they are entitled to their opinion, it is often an opinion based on one experience of a friend, a quote on Instagram, a video clip on TikTok or something of that nature. Never did they take the time to listen to actual people who live in the country. And even then, you need to listen to at least five to ten different opinions. The unfortunately reality of the creation of information bubbles is that we do not have a general and broad perspective regarding life. Spend time to listen to different people. Listen to what is said by people “on the ground”. In a time where people just want to protect their information bubble, let’s be different. Let’s reach out and listen. Let’s seek to understand before we make irrational conclusions.

Ambiguity force us to ask questions constantly. It invites us to listen actively and with compassion. It wants us to look beyond the fog and discern bits of truth. Be brave and look for the truth in chaos.

How can we support your Resilience Growth during COVID-19?

Option 1: Resilience e-coaching.

  • In 3 individual sessions of 1 hour each, with a senior Xpand coach, you work step by step through the process. And at your own pace.
  • The end result is a clear resilience training plan for the rest of 2020.

Your investment: The coaching sessions, book, workbook and scan – including VAT.
Normal: R 5 900 – Now in April: R 2 900.Option 2: Self-guided process.

Resilience package: book, workbook and scan =

Normal: R490 – April R350, – incl. VAT. Excluding courier costs.

Option 3: Online materials.

The Resilience Book is also available on Kindle.

We wish you all the best in developing your Resilience and adapting during these times.

This blog series is written by Cias Ferreira – Xpand Consultant, Coach & Trainer

Empowering individuals and organizations to thrive.