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Embracing Uncertainty

Updated: Jun 17, 2022

Tucker Miller | President and Founder of Day 6 Leadership, LLC

We live in an uncertain and dynamic world. When we look ahead at uncharted waters, many fear what lies ahead.

Let's be honest

All around us there is evidence that we are moving forward to a future unknown, unforeseen. Regardless of our feelings about the present state of the world, the future is and has always been uncertain.

From the beginning of time, the human experience has been shaped by an uncertain world.

No amount of wishing for things to be different, ruminating about the past, or fretting about the future makes a difference. Control is an illusion. Despite that, our inability to control the world around us may results in us feeling overwhelmed, confused, or hopeless. Looking for indications of security, we turn to data, metrics, budgets, forecasts, technology and science to quell these feelings but none of that changes the fundamental truth that the future is uncertain and we have little control over it.

This is a time of possibility

How many times have you heard someone this week reference how difficult things are right now? Perhaps you have even heard yourself say it. Focusing on how hard things are, though, blinds us to the potential right in front of us. What if our lack of knowledge about the future is not a cause for fear.

What if accepting that we have no control over the future allows us to focus our attention on the opportunities now and hope for the possibilities ahead?

Just imagine what our world would look like if world explorers insisted on detailed maps and field guides before venturing out into the vast unknown.

By their very nature, explorers don't know where they are going -- that's what they're trying to find out. If they'd had a map they would be tourists, not explorers. Explorers offer vision, innovation, and adventure. Their willingness to forge ahead in the face of uncertainty offers all of us new insights, data, vision. And we can be explorers, too.

What if uncertainty was something to be embraced instead of resisted?

Embracing uncertainty, at least learning to accept it instead of raging against it, offers us a chance to grow and learn. When we see uncertainty as an opportunity, we begin to see new ways of doing things. We become more innovative, more creative. We start to discover what we can do even, if not especially, in the face of adversity. Uncertainty affords us the chance to be better versions of ourselves when we embrace it instead of resisting it.

humans are designed to experiment

Experimentation is a part of the human experience and is by nature a way to embrace uncertainty. The effort of repeatedly trying, refining, and beginning again is one of our best teachers.

Humans learn best from trying, failing, and trying again. Through this process, we learn what works and what doesn't.

We learn to walk by committing to falling down over and over. As toddlers we are freed up from worry about what people think as we tumble and bruise. What inhibits us as we get older are our thoughts and beliefs about what failing means. We begin to tune in more to what people might think and we start to judge ourselves.

keep Looking Forward

Our past successes sometimes keep us stuck. We look for certainty in always doing what we've always done. When our results are inconsistent with what we've done in the past, we may panic. At the same time, someone who has only known failure too often looks only to the past to inform herself as to what's possible the the future. What if the past has little to do with our future? Maybe we could let it go and embrace the here and now.

What if we saw our present circumstances as offering a chance to experiment and test; a time to try something new?

Trying to recreate a past that is no longer available is exhausting and futile. Similarly, trying to address the responsibilities of today by repeatedly reminding ourselves how hard and unfair things are undermines our ability to grow.

discovery is the hope; optimism is the mindset

We may not have a guidebook for all we would like to know right now, but we have a chance to learn, experiment and explore. If the process is messy, so what? Right now is the ideal time to try something new. With over 7 billion people in our world trying to figure out how to move forward after a pandemic shutdown, there is more grace and understanding available as we all work together to learn to figure things out.

It's a lot easier to be generous, confident, curious and collaborative when I maintain an optimistic mindset.

Day 6 Leadership, LLC is a consulting and coaching company specializing in helping to prepare women leaders for expanded responsibility, influence, and impact.

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