Embrace Uncertainty: Jump Right In!
Yesterday I stopped by our local bakery to buy a country bread. Its rustic crust is irresistible.
During Covid’s bread baking craze I used to bake my own bread and quite enjoyed it. I don’t eat bread regularly, but occasionally I treat myself to a few pro loaves.
I placed the package in the backseat and drove toward a T intersection.
You know how it’s like when you need to turn right into a busy three-lane highway - in this case Miami’s I-95 - and in 100 yards turn left?
It looks impossible.
All you see is packed traffic on all three lanes and just the thought of even trying to squeeze in all the way to the left lane - seems crazy.
Some folks would give up and find a less busy road. Others would freeze and debate should they cross or not while blocking the intersection for others.
I waited until the right lane, the closest to me, was relatively free and pulled in.
Once on the highway, it was easier to capture opportunities to move to the middle and finally the left lane to make my turn.
In the words of Ken Roberts, sometimes you need to
“Take the first step, no more, no less, and the next will be revealed.”
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How are you? I hope you’re having a great week bringing to life some crazy meaningful ideas.
The short story I opened with is naturally an allegory for how entrepreneurs or executives make decisions under uncertainty.
I often get asked by people I network with “when you started your business, how soon until you got your first client?”
It’s a valid question, but it hides the real story.
Some people have incredible ideas they’re passionate about, but due to their circumstances, doubts, and the ambiguity involved in starting a new business - prefer to do nothing.
I’d preface and say, it’s not that I run a super successful unicorn with offices in 130 countries, mind you :)
It’s more about the perception from the outside of anybody who ventured out.
I of course don’t judge. Everybody has their own considerations and priorities.
If you look under the hood, you’ll find that every time we face a big decision with high stakes, insufficient information, where the immediate outcome is unclear - it’s really about the classic three-act story structure.
You have a certain life experience (setting), but now faced with a nagging problem that disrupts your routines (conflict), you think you might have the solution, but can’t be sure it’ll work or worse - if you’re personally up to the challenge (foggy resolution).
Decision making under uncertainty and risk
First off, it makes sense to define what is uncertainty.
Uncertainty refers to scenarios in which this information is barely available. Therefore, uncertain decision making is actually decision making without all the information about the potential risks.
The busy T intersection
You’ll find this “busy T intersection” when for example your boss tasked you with a big project you have never done before, debating if you should start your own consulting or startup, or learning a new skill?
The truth is, we find it hard to get out of our comfort zones, where all you see is a dense veil of fog. We like clear paths, and autopilot predictability.
Having said that, detailed planning is always a good idea to minimize ambiguity.
But it’s also true that even the best plans when meeting reality often need to change and you find yourself “learning on the go.”
In essence, you’re chopping down a massive challenge into smaller much manageable pieces.
Pretty much like joining a busy highway traffic.
That failure thing
Another important aspect related to the story people tell themselves while facing a big challenge, is the fear of failing.
You don’t have to make a life-changing decision; you could start small with a low-stakes, yet unfamiliar project you’re already planning to do.
Earlier this week, I forced myself to learn how to run a LinkedIn ad campaign with the extra twist of tracking conversions from Eventbrite.
You’d think how complicated that could be. It’s something I did eons ago but platforms evolve.
Sure, I could have a freelancer do it for me.
Personally with all the AI tidal wave that aims to free up our neurons from making any mental effort, these days I try to keep mine working :)
So, despite, in my opinion, LI’s poor usability I trudged on. After a series of chats with support reps I was able to finally launch it!
It sure felt good.
In a recent Simon Sinek’s podcast episode with Seth Godin, this concept came up: Whenever you share a new idea with your team, don’t forget to add at the end…
“But it might not work…” to highlight failure prospects.
This organically make the the project a team effort where everybody is pulling in together vs. “Since I head this project, that’s what we’re going to do” - that removes the collective ownership.
Over to you!
So next time you’re faced with a giant challenge ask yourself “What’s the worst that could happen?” How can you chop this monster challenge into small pieces and learn as you go?
If you do all that, typically that’s where your personal growth will come from.
Feel free to share your experiences and perspectives.
First workshop in our series is coming up
Before I go, quick reminder, exciting workshop coming up on March 8th!
Join my workshop and learn how to tell your story and finally let people see what you see! Space is limited. Reserve your seat today!
If you’re a paid subscriber to this newsletter, email me and I’ll send you the 30% off promo code.
Until next time, don’t fear embracing uncertainty, instead seek it!
Like baking, your first bread might tank (who cares?), the second showing first signs of a bread, but by the Nth time you’ll finally figure out the right ingredients, sequence and taming of your oven!
The satisfaction you’ll gain from overcoming those “busy T intersections” and achieving goals your audience truly care about - is definitely worth the ride.
Founder & CEO | Visual Storytelling Institute
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