Your success is a function of how you lead through uncertainty
Most of us are driven by the need for certainty. We crave the familiarity of what we know and expect, what we can predict and control, and what we can make sense of based on previous reference points. Certainty drives our thinking and actions – and ultimately what we achieve. However, we live in an uncertain world. How we respond to uncertainty tells us a lot about our ability to lead ourselves – and others – through opportunity and change.
Our patterns for responding to uncertainty (to create certainty) develop at a young age.
I was reminded of this point watching my two kids choose a lolly. While my fiercely independent 4 year old wanted the biggest one (of course), he didn’t choose it (because last time he couldn’t get the wrapper off and refused help – gotta love 4 year olds!), and instead chose a smaller unwrapped one. Faced with uncertainty, he chose to play it safe. In contrast, my 3 year old with no prior reference points went straight for the big one, and found a way to unwrap it. She made it work.
Uncertainty is opportunity in disguise
Our comfort zone is like a security blanket –by wearing it we actually set our own limits. Within these limits we tolerate and settle for what we have. We play a small game. How often do you not go for what you actually want or pursue something because of fear or uncertainty? If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do instead?
In the face of uncertainty, playing it safe vs. making it work is a critical decision point that separates A-Game and B-Game performers.
Pursuing opportunity is – at the end of the day – about embracing uncertainty and risk. It’s integral to your next performance level. If you fear failure/judgement or if you perceive enough ducks aren’t lined up yet (sound judgement applied), then you are being led by your need for certainty, rather than your decision to embrace change and drive results.
So what does it take to overcome uncertainty?
- Be self-certain – you have full control over how you think and respond in any situation. The more you know and understand you, and what makes you tick, the better. Learn to have self-trust. Others must see you as calm, confident and certain.
- Decide to step-up and be the leader you need you to be. Lean in and ask more of yourself – raise your standards.
- Be others focused vs. self-focused (take the focus of you and support others through)
- Create and align on the benchmark standards for success to measure progress against
- Act now and repeat the steps, over and over again. It’s what it takes to succeed.
People who accelerate their performance create opportunity through embracing uncertainty. Your ability to lead – you and others – in the face of uncertainty will dictate how far you will rise in your career.