In a churning world you can never tell what is going to happen next. Even if you are the President of the European Union, you might wake up one morning to find that one of your key members has decided to leave.
What then can you do?
In the army, Special Forces operating behind enemy lines use two principles to stay on track in highly unpredictable environments:
- They know the purpose of their mission. Not just the specific objective, but the wider purpose it is intended to achieve. Then when the situation changes they can adapt.
- They know their terms of engagement. These define how they behave under different circumstances, and keep them focused on what matters most no matter what happens.
As the UK works through the politics of whether it is actually going to leave or not, the EU needs to use this situation as an opportunity to revisit three key things:
- What are its purpose and values?
- What have recent events taught it about how it can best achieve those purpose and values in the place the world has become in 2016?
- What are the priorities for change?
By creating inspiring visions of those needed changes, the EU can then use this situation to go from strength to strength. Whether Britain then chooses to be part of that or not becomes kind of irrelevant.
If we know our purpose and values, then even in a changing, churning world we can remain secure in who we are, what we stand for, and what we are going to do next, even though the world has turned out differently from how we expected.