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?