In 2015 I founded CHC with the bold goal of helping people engage uncertainty in order to lead change. Since then I’ve had the amazing opportunity to speak on the topic to many people here and abroad.
One of the foundational ways we teach engaging uncertainty is through experiential learning projects. I’m often asked how uncertainty or risk is viewed from country to country or organization to organization. The answer is, it’s not really that different. There are way more similarities than differences when it comes to dancing with uncertainty in order to drive change.
I’ve found that there are five universal truths about embracing uncertainty that transcend geography, gender, and organization type:
The first truth is that you can define uncertainty in driving change however you want. It doesn’t matter what you call it: risk, threat, doubt, indecision, ambiguity. Most people share a similar desire which is to do the right thing for their themselves, their teams and their organizations. When it comes to engaging uncertainty each person has their own idea of what is comfortable, tolerable and acceptable. There is no right or wrong way to define or describe uncertainty. It is what it is for you and for you alone.
The second truth about engaging uncertainty in driving change is that uncertainty is part of our daily lives. Your ability to dance with it will change as your environment shifts and changes. Things like new managers, new connections, new roles, new interests, life circumstances like births and deaths, health (yours and others), will all impact your ability to embrace uncertainty. Empowerment can be found in recognizing and accepting that what you need now in this moment is very different than what you will need 12 months from now, or five years from now.
The third truth about engaging uncertainty in driving change is that small changes lead to big changes. Thinking small is about being dedicated to a niche or segment. Most organizations are focused on scaling, and idea of changing the world reigns strong (toward whatever end). We want to utilize innovation to make huge changes in the world so that we can matter. Hopefully we make our mark and make use of the great gifts that we’ve been given. From the lens of the interior mind, scale may not be the most prudent way to proceed. The neurological response seems to be strongest when we pay attention to the micro-level, when we ask “what do I need to do to change my neurology first?” The result is wildly different than if we were to design for scale. It is creative, relevant, and potent.
The fourth truth about engaging uncertainty in driving change is that it is virtually free, which is great news because everybody loves free. You don’t have to hire a professional coach, find a therapist, acquire advanced degrees, get advanced certifications, join a meditation group, or purchase a ton of books. If you want to sell tickets, make a web site, or produce a record, there are is a robust set of platforms to choose from. These are all options you can choose but you do not have to do any of them. There is no shortage of opportunity. What’s missing is that we haven’t shifted gears enough from how business was done just 20 years ago to how it needs to be done today and in the future. We haven’t gotten out our own way and chose to take the leap.
The fifth truth about engaging uncertainty in driving change is that it requires you to…take the leap. Taking the leap means you are improvising, vulnerable, and not sure what you are doing will work out. A human being, and only a human being can engage uncertainty. The act of being generous with ideas, and structure, and connection in ways that have never been done before. What we need to understand is that society is lining up to reward people for doing things differently, for becoming outliers, for thinking unconventionally. There are many attributes associated with these kinds of people, none of which we were taught in school. We were taught to receive a map and follow instructions. The death of the industrial age as at the heart of the uncertainty we find ourselves in. And the work you do matters. Changing yourself changes the work you do, the connections you reach toward, and the impact you have in the world. It’s your choice to find what level of uncertainty you can engage toward driving change. Some days you might make choices that support your definition of change. Other days you might make choices that sabotage the type of change you’re seeking. But change occurs in the practice of engaging. It’s awkward at first. But every day you get the chance to choose, again, and again, and again.