I am moving my work and writing on uncertainty to Patreon. Over the next year, I am committed to researching, thinking and writing 250 posts about uncertainty and the power of curiousity. I will continue to publish ramblings, rantings, rave reviews, and respectful resistance here on Make It Your Problem.
For those who are interested, inspired, infuriated by my provocations, I invite you to jump over to Patreon and support the work by making a monthly commitment of $5 or more. There are some perks listed on the right side of the page. I am trying to create space and time for myself to ask questions, ponder the answers and create posts about what I discover. I am hoping to make meaning and add value to your days, weeks, life through this work but my world doesn’t stop just because I am making meaning. I still have bills to pay and I still trade time for money in the consulting world. Your monthly commitment will help offset some expenses and give me the privilege to consider possibilities, curate curiousities, and question assumptions in an attempt to help reorient our very confused and deeply denying society.
I appreciate your ongoing support over the past 3 years and invite you to share in the next journey.
Make Today Remarkable, by leaning into uncertainty,
Thinking big is great, but huge goals may take time to reach. Don’t forget the small achievements we can make—they’ll also add up to big, positive change!
Two seemingly contradictory schools of thought suggest that we should be focused on ‘one big goal’ and only undertake actions that will lead to that goal. If the goal is big enough and compelling enough, this supposedly can keep us focused for a year, a decade or a lifetime.
The other school suggests that we should be focused on the next thing. Do it and look up to see where you are and what has changed and then take the next step. Apparently, this will help us be aware of the shifting conditions and lead us on a more realistic and interesting path.
The schools might be called Destination and Journey. My tendency is to Destination and traveling with me can be painful for weak bladders. I get moving early and keep moving as long as possible or until the X on the map (read atlas, bank account, miles run …) is reached. But I know that when I have taken the time and made the effort to lift my head the trip has been at least as effective and usually more enjoyable.
Part of leaning into uncertainty is playing against tendencies. If I prefer to be a rebel, as defined by Gretchen Rubin, I should take on the role of upholder for 20% of the situations I encounter. If I am usually a questioner, I may want to try being an obliger.
We have developed hundreds of other preferences based on our upbringing and our life experiences (nurture) and may have been born with hundreds of other natural dispositions.
Are you up to playing against your instincts this week?
“The best-laid plans of mice and men are oft to go astray” ~ Robbie Burns
Burns seems to be saying “No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it.” Yet in most situations, we ignore this sage advice and expect that ‘if we plan it, it will happen’. We imagine that there are no variables, external influences or unexpected providence that makes our certain expectation fallible.
My contention isn’t that we shouldn’t embrace expectations but rather that we should explore options that are as yet unimagined. Certainty creates a space where willful blindness rears its head and closes off alternatives. This leaves us ill-prepared and even surprised when something doesn’t turn out as we anticipated. When the unexpected leads to frustration, certainty is trying to bully us into mediocrity. If we lean into uncertainty, the unexpected nurtures curiosity and creativity.
How do we get off the train? Just when we think that there is a breakthrough, we usually are chasing a desired outcome. Brainstorming quickly becomes stormtrooping. Once a destination is laid in, our planning GPS kicks in and we begin exploring the fastest, shortest, cheapest, most convenient route to victory. What if a few detours or roadblocks changed the route? What if the destination is not quite right?
Leaning into uncertainty isn’t easy or organic. Nothing really is. It requires a disposition to curiosity and a tenaciousness to breaking form. An intentional tendency to ask ridiculously difficult questions in order to understand is an asset worth pursuing and an optimistic wisdom to know when to stop asking will keep some semblance of planning alive for those who struggle with ambiguity.
To begin, it may be helpful to ask 4 whys. When you are feeling sure of the destination or next step, ask why. Why do we believe that growth is the most important metric? – however you answer that question, ask why again, 3 more times. What do you notice? Has there been an orientation shift? Are you still charging ahead? Was there an unexpected lesson? None of these observations are negative, they just are.
After trying 4 whys, move to the next step. If you get to a stage where you are blinded by certainty again, try 4 hows, or 4 whos …
Curiosity begets curiosity. Lean into uncertainty and see what you see.