How to Combat Certainty in 5 No-so-Easy Steps

Certainty lays itself at our footsteps, across our thresh hold, in our email inbox and crams itself tightly into our heads. It robs us of creativity because ‘ a conclusion reached becomes a conclusion held.’ We conduct pseudo-experiments, gather strings of garble data, and hearken back to the theories of great scholars without so much a howdy do. The research confirms a suspicion and aligns with a desire and so it becomes a premise and then a fact. We continue to measure it and make it sacred. It can never be questioned, doubted or checked for its current relativity. Charging down the path towards an expectation, the certain choices lead to a specific and potentially altogether wrong destination. The surprise we feel when the findings, response or sales are chalked up to something else. We must have misread the data. The focus group was biased. The communication collateral wasn’t clear. But we never stop to consider the certainty that took us down the yellow brick road to Utopia. That certainty must be forever true. We need a manifesto of destruction and adaptation to lean comfortably into uncertainty but for the time being here are five steps to make your certainty intentionally uncomfortable.

1 Reframe. Begin with rattling reframing questions. ” If x isn’t entirely accurate, what might I observe?” ” When I am sure of my position, what might I be missing?” ” If I am not curious enough to see a different perspective, why do I expect different results?” Keep asking yourself challenging big picture questions so that you can concede that there may be another valid point of view, opinion or approach.

2 Reflect. I pause and wonder, where did this surety come from? Is my unshakeable belief based on bias, indoctrination, ‘education’ desire? Why am I afraid, uneasy, resentful that there could be many possible approaches? As I swim in the reflection, I learn more about myself that about any rigidity that I am harboring.

3 Refrain. It is a bit ironic that refrain can mean both ” a regularly occurring phrase” and ” to stop oneself from doing something.” This step is a bit of both. On occasion, when you hear yourself tugging on the same threads that you have pulled for years, I compel you to stop unraveling the tapestry and in just this one instance don’t go down the familiar path. Become a tourist who curiously explores a new journey and records your observations.

4 Remove. Take yourself out of the mix, when your certainty turns into intimidation and bullying. When you dig in your heels and because a tightly held ‘value’ is being challenged and you rise to a defensive or aggressive posture – remove yourself from the situation and repeat the first three steps.

5 Release. Release the tension of trying to hold onto the unknowable. Feel the stress drain away when you allow the edge of uncertainty to overlap with your defensive position. Relish the relaxation of curiosity and allow yourself to be renewed by unimagined possibilities.

Make today, and next year, remarkable,

B

 

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