We all face uncertainty in life. Sometimes we hear “there is a 30% chance of succeeding”. That is a marker for uncertainty. Other times we hear something and say “I don’t know if it will work”. There is a subjective, emotional response inside of us to the uncertainty that is caused by an idea or proposed solution that is totally foreign to us. Uncertainty can also occur when we feel threatened. We don’t know what tomorrow will be like.
What’s interesting about uncertainty is we have three choices in how to deal with it: we can do nothing, we can stabilize or neutralize the uncertainty by conforming to what we already are doing, or we can change and adapt to the situation that has created the uncertainty.
The skills needed for each option are different. Not much skill is needed in doing nothing. I see a lot of this. This approach is the constant revisiting of an issue or situation that aggravates us. We complain over and over again. Maybe not two days in a row. But a month later the complaint surfaces again. With the exact same story and unfortunately the same outcome.
Stabilizing or neutralizing uncertainty by going back to what we normally do is a bit more challenging. This situation is different than in doing nothing. You in some way change the situation you’re in to diffuse the urgency of resolving uncertainty. If you’re part of an organization, you convince other people that the course to be pursued is the one most familiar. If you face this as an individual, it could simply mean avoiding the person that is pressuring you to do something different.
Eliminating uncertainty by changing and adapting to a situation can appear more risky but actually could be a much better long term solution. The tricky part here is do you have the skills to adapt and change? Do you have the will to adapt and change? Do you have the confidence that whatever the end result will be, it will be better in some way than where you are today?
Evolution clearly votes for changing and adapting for long term survival.
There is a lack of leadership if you do nothing although it still is a choice. This comes about more from default than intention.
Leadership can feel very strong when you have someone who is able to stabilize uncertain situations in environments with long histories and well established routines. The managing of personalities becomes an art when in the midst of an uncertain environment.
This same leadership skill can appear quite weak when an uncertain situation demands change and evolution rather than status quo. In this environment, different personalities need to be embraced so that ideas become available to be melded into a different and hopefully better tomorrow. This is a very different type of leadership skill.
Personal leadership and the decisions we make are within each of us. Interpersonal skills, being able to listen, slowing down your next step giving you time to reflect and adjust properly, thinking on your feet are all tactics that you can use to address uncertainty.
The more challenging and difficult aspect of uncertainty is properly assessing the situation. Do you clearly understand your world view of either doing nothing, working hard to keep the status quo, or enjoying the discovery and implementation of something that is different than what you have done in the past?
How does your worldview bias your choice of how you will resolve your uncertainty?
Context is such a powerful lever in navigating life. Understanding what is around you together with understanding who you are can make all of the difference in helping you understand better what is needed of you to succeed in a given situation.
Easier said than done. Especially when you are in the middle of something that appears confusing.