The discomfort of not knowing
Recently I was discussing an imminent business change, which is on the horizon but as yet not completely clear. As I straddled the divide between what was known and what was unknown (and yet to come), my supervisor asked me one of those simple but tricky questions:
“what is your difficulty with waiting?'”
I grappled impatiently with the question, wanting to know the answer to my challenge immediately, I didn’t want to wait, I wanted everything figured out so I could move on with certainty. To put that particular question neatly away in a box and move on. Yet life had other plans. I didn’t have all of the information I needed, and the time for this change, although imminent, had not yet arrived.
The beauty of life
In today’s business world data, facts and certainty are called upon minute by minute, hour by hour. The very act of leadership is to set a decisive direction that others feel inclined to follow. Your teams and customers require you to be pragmatic and precise. Every day you will need to make critical judgment calls in a split second, and then switch in a heartbeat to scan big data and draw instant conclusions. In the vast unknown, you are called upon to provide solidity, certainty, maps, and direction.
Yet what about what is unknown and uncertain? How much time is spent considering these perspectives when making key decisions? How often do you sit with your teams and talk about what is not known about a new programme, project, objective or business goal? What about your own admission of uncertainty, how easy or difficult is this for you? Imagine if you and your teams did have these discussions. What might be discovered from this place? What if from the space of not knowing, more is revealed?…
The truth is we spend so much time in business and life trying to control outcomes, predict results and create certainty, we forget that the beauty of life is that anything could happen…