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It’s impossible to keep your balance

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I crave certainty.

I want certainty about project outcomes, spending decisions, and even travel plans.

Somewhere I learned that idea that if I make right decisions, and try hard enough, then I’ll get good outcomes.

Oh, I’ve had some failures. A project didn’t come in on-time, the estimate was off, or something derailed my plans out of nowhere.

This gave me the certainty that not everything I did would come out right – but I still held on to the belief that skill, planning, and hard work wins most of the time.

Enter complexity, stage right

Now I’m learning that when it comes to complex human systems, an accurate prediction is impossible.

It’s true. It’s impossible to predict how my changes will affect a Complex Adaptive System.

With each change, the system keeps adapting, morphing, and changing in unexpected ways.

So, now, I am certain about one aspect of uncertainty.

And though that’s reassuring, I still find entering a new system, a new place, or a new organization difficult.

I’m trying to learn to hold uncertainty in my mind, and calm the reaction I feel, and instead stand in inquiry.

Stepping into uncertainty with inquiry allows me to keep my balance.

Though always keeping your balance is impossible, recovering your balance is key to being an effective leader.

The faster you can recover, the less time you’ll spend thrashing.

And the fewer people will get hurt by your flailing.

So, next time you crave certainty and aren’t getting it – try asking questions to make sense of the situation.

How do you handle uncertainty at work?


About Marcus Blankenship

Where other technical coaches focus on process or tools, I focus on the human aspects of your Programmer to Manager transition. I help you hire the right people, create the right culture, and setup the right process which achieves your goals. Managing your team isn't something you learned in college. In fact, my clients often tell me "I never prepared for this role, I always focused on doing the work". If you're ready to improve your leadership, process and team, find out how I can help you.

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