When faced with new challenges, unfamiliar contexts and with a high degree of uncertainty, many people find it genuinely difficult to cope with and to handle such challenges. So if a project is to succeed, participants need to prepare themselves for the inevitable rocky road ahead. It is particularly important preparation is to develop a range of coping mechanisms and strategies; for example, building meaningful social networks is very useful, and maintaining a good sense of humour, a positive attitude and a good chunk of optimism can also be immensely helpful.
Case Study Example: Dealing with Uncertainty
One of the most noticeable personal challenges of the eChina-UK Programme was the very high degree of uncertainty. The Programme as a whole, and each of the constituent projects, was breaking new ground in a range of respects; in addition, because it was an inter-governmental programme, there were ‘political’ factors that influenced decision-making over a range of issues. So there were many unclear or undecided issues. Some members found it very difficult to cope with the stress of this uncertainty, while others took it more in their stride. Strategies that we used to help us all cope better with this included building a very strong sense of eChina-UK community, so that we could get support from each other. Moreover, we tried to make it clear that uncertainty is ‘normal’ in projects of this kind, and that it is better to try and accept it than to keep seeking (unsuccessfully) to resolve the uncertainty.
Tip: Reflect on the strategies that you find helpful for reducing stress.