written by BRICE HOGAN | MOTIVATION, HABITS
Fear and uncertainty are everywhere. When you are considering switching jobs. Maybe you're looking to run your own business. Could be you are considering having more kids.
It's the fear of the unknown that keeps ou from accomplishing what you truly want out of life and self-doubt creeps in.
- What if I'm not good enough?
- I don't have the money or time.
- It's too hard.
- It's too big of a risk
And the list could go on. We could pile up all the excuses in the world but at the end of the day, nothing in life is certain. We can look at the past to try to inform our future but it's really our ability to embrace our uncertainty that unlocks many of the opportunities to grow.
Many are unwilling to embrace uncertainty. We want to know for a fact that things are going to work out. Our minds want concrete evidence that says if I do this I will get this in return.
I get what it's like to feel uncertain and unsure about your abilities. I know what it's like when you try something and you fail miserably.
We hate the feeling, we feel embarrassed, maybe a feeling of worthlessness. It stops us from trying something new again because our minds are built to avert risk.
One of the reasons I started this blog and started writing, in general, was because I knew I had something to say. It took me a few months of deciding whether or not to put my writing out there.
Thankfully, I pushed myself to do it. To embrace the uncertainty and engage with people. One fear I had was what if people didn't like what I was writing. What if they sent hate emails. That would just suck and there goes my confidence.
However, I figured that there are a lot people who are not putting themselves out there so I will. So whatever you are hesitating about you need to embrace the uncertainty and start and you will find out it's not as bad as you thought.
Possibility and Uncertainty are two sides of the Coin
Think of a time in your life when you were most proud of something you achieved. I am going to guess it wasn't when you were sitting on the couch binge-watching Stranger Things or Game of Thrones. It probably was when you took a risk, that included some uncertainty.
It could have been taking a new job in a different state or even moving to a different country where you felt uncertain about how the job was going to go, were you going to be able to make enough money, and so on.
Clayton Christensen the thought leader on disruptive innovation had a moment in his life when made a decision that carried with it a lot of uncertainty. He was in a very successful company he started and decided to quit to go back to school and get a PhD and become a teacher. A decision he mentions was very difficult because of the uncertainty that came with changing from a successful career to becoming a student.
But it worked out. The leap he made into the unknown eventually launched his career as one of the top business thinkers in the world.
This idea that uncertainty and fear of the unknown can't exist in the same space as opportunity is just not true. Your brain is wired to find the path of least resistance (1) It's designed to avoid things that are difficult even painful.
Our lives these days are about the mental stresses that come to us from different things. Work, society, raising a family, doing well at our jobs.
The way we overcome these stresses is to build strategies to help us build resilience so that when there is an opportunity that presents uncertainty we know how to overcome it.
Dealing with Uncertainty
With almost everything in life, you need to have a strategy on how to deal with a problem. I always like to reflect and ask questions on what are the best ways to deal with the emotion I am feeling and then come up with solutions to it. Uncertainty is no different.
Stop seeing things as just a win/loss scenario. We often peg ourselves to a certain goal and when we don't achieve it we lost. "So instead use the infinite game" approach by James Carse. His advice is to stop seeing the rules, boundaries, and purpose of the “game” you’re playing—the job you’re after, the project you’ve been assigned, the career path you’re on—as fixed.
Brace Yourself for risk
As I said our brains don't like dealing with what it doesn't know. It comes up with ways to cope with that. Instead what we can do is create a certain balance or normalcy while we are taking on that risk.
Habits are a way of bracing for risk. Many very successful business magnates, who take on a lot of risks, will fall back on doing certain things a certain way. They often follow the same routine or wear the same clothes. Steve Jobs was famous for his black turtle necks, Bill Gates sits in a rocking chair at night and reads, writes and then goes to sleep.
Habits and routines provide something that is constant in the midst of anxiety and stress due to uncertainty.
The most important step in dealing with uncertainty is to take action. Even if you don't know if it's going to work. You act. I think about times when I have felt the most frightened like cliff jumping and I was standing there just fretting about how high it was (it was only 30 feet but it looked like 200) but when I jumped off fear was gone and I was fine.
When the founders of Rent the Run Way (Jenn Hyman and Jenny Fleiss) started the company they didn't have a detailed business plan with P&L statements or ROI graphs. They grabbed some dresses to rent and set up a dressing room on Harvard. Then they experimented and changed and eventually became the business it has become. (1)
One of the biggest fears we have when acting is getting it right. We need to get over it. It's better to do something badly and learn from it than not start anything at all. You could be waiting forever if you were waiting for things to be just right.
The Bottom Line
Confronting uncertainty, and embracing uncertainty is a better way to go in life. Think of life as a pick-your-own adventure book. You choose and the adventure unfolds. The only way to create new opportunities is through the unknown.
"Uncertainty is simply the universe telling you there is a course of action that can lead to an outcome that could better your life no matter the outcome"
- Brice J Hogan-