Why Uncertainty Is Your Friend

Do you know what you will be doing in your job in 2 week’s time? In 2 month’s time?

I did. I knew my HR routine for the day – around 10 email requests, 2-3 interviews, 1-2 disciplinary cases to type up, perhaps one meeting with a manager who either wishes to hire or fire someone. I’d also meet with the occasional employee who wants to talk to me about resigning,  and perhaps a general meeting with other managers if it’s a Monday.

Then it would depend on the time of year. Mid-year and year-end, I’d also be calling managers to submit their late performance management forms. First quarter? Meetings on increases and promotions. Summers, I’d have meetings about the company outing. Rainy season – perhaps there’d be inquiries on re-evaluating that policy on leaves and absences due to typhoon.

So give me a random date – and I can give a reasonable forecast of what I’d be doing.

You know, I’d bet a lot of people in corporate can give a similar, reasonable forecast.

Doesn’t that, you know… suck?

Certainty is overrated. Certainty is boring.

Don’t we hate predictable movies and TV shows? Isn’t uncertainty why we watch sports? We want to be thrilled by the battle of who comes out on top. The more evenly-matched the protagonists are – the more uncertain the outcome is – the better.

Being an entrepreneur, certainty is the first thing you throw out.

I was a ten-year corporate lifer before I leapt into startup life, so yes, having so much uncertainty was certainly scary. But over time, I have found that uncertainty is liberating.

Not knowing what I’ll be doing in 2 weeks is a gift. It’s a gift because it means I have control over what I will do in 2 weeks – and I know it will depend on what I’ll be thinking at that time.

It’s a gift because it also means that what I choose to do now has an effect on what will happen in 2 weeks. If I choose to put a lot of emphasis on sales today – that might mean that in 2 weeks I will be negotiating contracts. If I emphasize hiring today, then it increasingly means that I’ll be interviewing people in 2 weeks.

It’s a gift because it means I am quite equipped to pounce on opportunities should they arise. If in two weeks, one of the people I’ve been wooing to work with me suddenly wants to have a talk on the merits of leaving the corporate life – I can make an invite for coffee that very night.

Uncertainty means you have choices. Uncertainty is a gift. Learn to embrace it, to handle it with grace.

Comments

  1. Glen Macadaeg says:

    Thanks for this paradigm-shifting post! Did not view uncertainty as a gift before… Could be because of fear, which, understandably is innate in all human beings.

    • You’re welcome bro! Yup, most definitely fear is a factor. Sometimes though, uncertainty is what you get AFTER you conquer your fear and take a leap.

      “OK, Ive made my leap. Now what?” And then you are faced with a million choices. That can be debilitating. But you gotta embrace it – use it, instead of fighting it.

  2. Very nice post, Peter!

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