Change involves uncertainty. How can we embrace uncertainty to effect change?
One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for very long.
— Arnold H. Glasow
What does it take to embrace uncertainty?
I’m not sure if you’ve seen the movie Meet Joe Black, starring Brad Pitt? This movie is as extraordinary as it is haunting. Towards the end of the movie, Joe (Brad Pitt’s character) mentions that:
We all know this deal is as certain as death and taxes.
This got me thinking about the concept of certainty and our ability to embrace uncertainty.
Besides death and taxes, life as we know it is perilously uncertain. We don’t know what will befall us when we step outside to go to work in the morning; we don’t know how people will respond to us; we don’t know if our decisions will lead to desirable outcomes, and we certainly don’t know what the lottery numbers will be next week.
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating slightly about life being perilously uncertain. However, the one certainty we have in life is that things are uncertain, and that we must constantly adapt to changing conditions and circumstances if we want to thrive and achieve our goals and objectives.
It is a well known fact, that those who play it safe consistently underachieve. On the other hand, those who embrace uncertainty, show a willingness to take chances and risks in the face of uncertainty — those are the people who shape our world and live their dreams.
I would like to challenge you to become one of these people today.
Here’s How to Embrace Uncertainty
What I will do now is share with you some quotations about how to embrace uncertainty and taking risks.
It’s important not to read these quotes passively. Instead I want to you be action-oriented, and think about them proactively in terms of how you will begin implementing them into your life on a daily basis. I have therefore provided a few short thoughts about each quote and also listed several questions and statements you can use to begin integrating these words into your psyche.
Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.
— Frederick B. Wilcox —
In baseball you can only score points/runs by taking risks. Playing it safe is not progress. Progress involves moving forward, taking chances and stepping outside your comfort zone. However, as with everything you must play it smart. Therefore always ask yourself:
- Moving forward, how could I minimize the risks?
How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.
— Trina Paulus —
Imagine yourself as a caterpillar. You’re living a satisfying life, eating all the leaves your heart desires. Within this comfort zone the world seems fine, but then you look up into the sky and you see all those beautiful butterflies, and you wonder “If only I could spread my wings and fly.”
Don’t wish. You are already a butterfly, you simply haven’t taken the chance to step outside of your comfort zone. You have no idea of the incredible potential you have within, unless you take a chance on yourself.
- I believe I have all the potential in the world…
- To live my dreams I must learn to fly…
- I will begin today to step outside my comfort zone and live to become a butterfly…
I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
— Pablo Picasso —
The only way you will learn how to do new things is to physically go out there and try new things. We only grow when we stretch ourselves, when we stretch what we believe is possible and probable. So go out there and ask yourself:
- What new things could I try today?
- How will these things help me grow as a person?
- How could they help me to take a step closer towards achieving my goals?
Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down.
— Ray Bradbury —
Sometimes you simply won’t know what to do when as you take a step forward towards your goals and objectives. And that’s okay. It’s okay not to always know what to do, and it’s okay to make mistakes while you’re learning something new. What’s not okay is to refrain from taking action because you fear uncertainty.
- It’s okay to not know what I’m about to do next…
- It’s okay if I make mistakes while I’m learning…
- I’m confident I can figure out what to do through trial and error…
Don’t be afraid to take a big step. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.
— David Lloyd George —
Even though you might be moving forward, you will still make very little progress if you don’t eventually take the BIG risk. And for all you know this BIG risk could make all the difference in the end. It could be the difference between persistent years of struggle, or a lifetime of fulfillment.
- What if I just take this risk right here, right now?
- What are the possibilities?
- Let’s just do it…
It seems to me that people have vast potential. Most people can do extraordinary things if they have the confidence or take the risks. Yet most people don’t. They sit in front of the telly and treat life as if it goes on forever.
— Philip Adams —
One of the biggest problems people experience in life comes down to a lack of urgency. They feel that they have all the time in the world to achieve their goals, dreams and passions, and yet every day they fall into the same patterns of behavior that get them nowhere fast. They are simply too comfortable, and there just isn’t enough urgency to push them to take the necessary actions that will get them out of their slump.
- Am I wasting my life away?
- How must I get out of this slump?
- How is my comfort zone hurting me?
- What will I miss out on in the long-term if I don’t take action now?
- How can I create more urgency in my life?
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.
— Leo F. Buscaglia —
You may very well live a long and relatively satisfying life within your comfort zone. However, sitting back on your rocking chair when you’re 100 years old, you will reflect back onto this life and you will regret the things you didn’t do, the chances you didn’t take, and the risks you failed to make.
- What small risk could I take today that I would normally hesitate?
- What big risk could I take in the coming months that could potentially transform my life for the better?
- How could I best prepare myself for taking this risk?
The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.
— Michelangelo —
One of the biggest problems we face is that our standards are simply too low. We don’t expect enough from ourselves, from our actions and from our objectives. We are satisfied when aiming for a tree and accidentally hitting a rock. This is just not good enough. Instead we should be aiming for the stars, and if things don’t work out we might just end up hitting the moon. It’s sure better than hitting a rock.
- Am I setting my aim high enough?
- Am I setting my standards high enough?
We fail more often by timidity then by over-daring.
— David Grayson —
In the moment of action there is incredible potential. In fact anything is possible because our lives are governed by uncertainty. However, the moment we hesitate and pull back, is the moment the balloon pops and our potential disappears into thin air. When you dare to take a chance, there is always the possibility of making a mistake. However, we only make progress by learning from our mistakes and by learning from our failures. This is after all the bedrock of human evolution.
- What will I dare to do today?
One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
— Andre Gide —
Imagine for a moment Explorers and Adventurers of days gone by didn’t venture too far away from the safety of their town or village because they were simply too afraid to take a chance. What would’ve become of this world? Would we be where we are today? Would we know what we know today? It’s because they took a chance to venture too far, that we benefit from their experience.
- It’s okay to venture too far outside my comfort zone…
- Life is an adventure and I’m an Explorer. Venturing too far is what Explorer’s do…
- I must venture too far to know just how far I can possibly go…
Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson —
If life was just an experiment with no consequences, would you take more risks and try new things? Would you step outside of your comfort zone more often and push the limits of what’s possible?
Life actually does have consequences for the actions we take and the decisions we make. We can’t escape that. However, life also has consequences for the actions that we fail to take, and it’s those consequences that weigh the heaviest burden on your heart at the end of the day.
- What if I treated life as an experiment?
- How would I think differently?
- How would I do things differently?
Often we… expect and want every day to be just like today. Even though we’re not satisfied with today, we settle for security instead of discovery.
— Stephen G. Scalese —
This has everything to do with our expectations. We expect things to be a certain way, and we therefore box ourselves into an ordinary existence that keeps us locked into our comfort zone. Yes inside you are hoping and pleading for things to be different — for things to be better — and yet you’re doing nothing about it. This is no way to live your life. It’s like living in a self-inflicted prison cell that has no bars — never realizing that we are free to leave any time we wish.
- Am I settling for security?
- How could I become more adventurous?
The knowledge of the world is only to be acquired in the world, and not in a closet.
— Lord Chesterfield —
Unless you are pushing yourself and stepping outside of your comfort zone, you will never really learn anything new and worthwhile.
We learn best when we are challenged, when we are put under pressure, when for a period of time we simply don’t know what to do. In such instances our life is in a bit of a turmoil, however this is a good thing because it strengthens our resolve and forces us to think differently about our world and circumstances. This is after all how all progress is made.
- How could I challenge myself today?
- What’s something new I could learn today that will stretch my abilities?
Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome.
— Samuel Johnson —
Every day we go through life formulating seemingly intelligent reasons why we can’t do something. These reasons are nothing more than poor excuses that keep you locked within your comfort zone. You must realize that nothing will ever be perfect. Or alternatively realize that everything is perfect all the time. If you approach life from such a perspective, imagine what could be possible. You will throw all your excuses out the door and begin living life to the fullest.
- Things will never be perfect…
- Things are always perfect no matter what they might appear to be to me…
- Why not just do it… right now?
Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?
— Frank Scully —
We are often so afraid to go out on a limb because we’re petrified that the branch will break. Yes, the branch may break, and Yes you might hurt yourself when you fall. However, every time you reach for that fruit you will gain experience and this will force you to change your approach and strategy accordingly the next time around. And eventually after a little trial and error you will grasp the fruit and it will change your life.
- Why not go out on a limb?
- Why not go out on a limb right now?
- What have I learned from this experience?
- How must I modify my approach the next time I go out on a limb?
This nation was built by men who took risks — pioneers who were not afraid of the wilderness, businessmen who were not afraid of failure, scientists who were not afraid of the truth, thinkers who were not afraid of progress, dreamers who were not afraid of action.
— Brooks Atkinson —
The key to progress is to take fearless action. Cultivate courage within your heart, and take a chance on yourself. Don’t worry about your fear. It will never really dissipate no matter how much experience you have. A courageous person doesn’t act without fear, instead they act despite their fear, and that is why they are courageous.
Use your fears as fuel that powers you forward to take ever bigger chances and risks as you make progress forward towards the attainment of your goals and objectives.
- I will take action despite my fear…
- I am courageous, and my courage will guide me through this…
Your Plan of Action
I would like to challenge you to embrace uncertainty; to actually plunge head-first into uncertainty and take a chance on yourself.
Here is your personal plan of action that I would like you to start implementing today…
- Learn new things.
- Learn to take calculated risks.
- Try something edgy.
- Never settle for comfort or security.
- Never fear taking action.
- Take chances you wouldn’t normally take.
- Take the road less traveled.
- View life as an adventure and an experiment.
- Do what you think you cannot do.
- Do what feels uncomfortable.
Yes, you will feel uncomfortable… Yes, you will feel like running away at times… Yes, you will not always know what to do… However, this is the best way to make progress in life. So take a chance on yourself and plunge into the world of uncertainty with an open mind and a fighting spirit. Life is too short to hold yourself back.
1) “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway
2) “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” – Ralph Nichols
Listening is the foundation of any good relationship. Great leaders listen to what their customers and prospects want and need, and they listen to the challenges those customers face. They listen to colleagues and are open to new ideas. They listen to shareholders, investors, and competitors.
“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” -Robert McKee
“If you tell me, it’s an essay. If you show me, it’s a story.” —Barbara Greene
“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” -Oprah Winfrey
“Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet – thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing – consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust.” -Lance Secretan
“As a small businessperson, you have no greater leverage than the truth.” -John Whittier
“There is no persuasiveness more effectual than the transparency of a single heart, of a sincere life.” –Joseph Berber Lightfoot
“Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.” -SEAL Team Saying
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” -Charles Swindoll
‘“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates
“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” -Ben Franklin
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” –Charles Darwin
“The only way to do great work is to love the work you do.” -Steve Jobs
“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” -Albert Einstein
A true leader always keeps an element of surprise up his sleeve, which others cannot grasp but which keeps his public excited and breathless.” -Charles de Gaulle
“Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.” – Boris Pasternak
“Less isn’t more; just enough is more.” -Milton Glaser
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” -Leonardo daVinci
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” -Gilbert K Chesterton
“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” — Peter F. Drucker
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” —John Quincy Adams
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” —John F. Kennedy
The Golden Rule: Above all else, treat others as you’d like to be treated