Embracing Uncertainty

personal development Feb 01, 2020
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It seems as if the ‘right’ ideas, beliefs, or causes ‘win.’ Those in positions of authority or positioned as successful seem to earn that status through certainty and audacity.

But appearances are deceiving. They don't tell the whole story. And they don't have to define the culture.

What if we championed uncertainty and consideration instead?

The Situation

It's seductive to pretend we're rational agents applying ourselves intelligently and deliberately to endeavors when things work out as we intended. When things don't work out, it's tempting to tell ourselves that it's because events conspired against us or, worse, tell ourselves that we're unworthy, lazy, or stupid.

The truth is, neither  impression is correct. Most of the time, we're on autopilot. The subconscious is making decisions based on instinct and intuition informed by our habits and experience. Things happen as they happen, and the rest is all just storytelling after-the-fact.

And whichever story you're telling yourself, it's probably affirming the status quo. In other words, you're likely confirming and reinforcing the story you were already telling yourself. Is that story enhancing your prospects and wellbeing?

The Solution

What if we made the effort to shun value judgments and embrace consideration?

Embracing uncertainty cultivates self-compassion, encourages clearer thinking, and fuels better decision making. It also fosters insight and inspires growth.

Seek confusion. The unexpected is where learning happens, and potential is developed. Failure and confusion are not character flaws, they're indications of character strengths like curiosity, courage, and consideration.

Acknowledging what we can't know is the path to peace of mind. Uncertainty cultivates character and motivation and informs intelligence and resilience. 

Uncertainty also nurtures consideration. Consideration boosts compassion for ourselves and generosity for others. This encourages connection and common purpose. And all this leads to breaking and bending the status quo to make things better.

The Striving

What happens if the next time you're in a situation where there's no clear next step, instead of stating what you can't possibly know with certainty, you answered: "I can't be sure."

What if you followed that with an assertion? What step might lead to a better situation for everyone? What if you then took that step and encouraged the others to come along?


Scott Perry, Chief Difference-Maker at Creative on Purpose.

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