Stop Your Love Affair With Certainty

Sometimes standing still, doing nothing, is the most dangerous tactic you can take. I have found that most of the companies I work with who have got themselves in a jam have done so by not doing anything. They had seen their impending doom, but were too frozen in their fear of uncertainty to do anything about it.

As we get older we fear change so much that we stop moving and we stop growing. And when it comes to our companies, when we stop growing we start dying. 

Over the years we have developed a kind of love affair with certainty. We cling to it for dear life and in most cases it will lead to the end of our business life.

Even when your business is doing well, when you have a good team, a solid roster of customers and excellent profitability, standing still is the most dangerous thing you can do. Why? Because no matter how clean and organized your company is right now, stuff happens. Customers change, go out of business, are bought out. Things can happen to your key employees. The need for the product you build can wane. Or heck we could even have a world-wide pandemic that lasts three years or more. Stuff happens, of that we can all be certain.

To move forward is to take risks and nothing gets done if you spend your life avoiding risks.

Transitioning from a mindset of requiring absolute certainty to one focused on accomplishment and growth can be a powerful, but necessary shift. To help you with changing that mindset, here are twelve things for you to consider:

  1. Embrace Uncertainty: Accept that uncertainty is a natural part of life and business and instead of fearing it, view it as an opportunity for growth and learning and of course innovation.
  2. Set Clear Goals: Define what you want to achieve. Having clear goals gives you direction and purpose, especially in uncertain circumstances.
  3. Risk Assessment: Evaluate the risks associated with your decisions. But do not let fear of failure paralyze you. Calculated risks can lead to great rewards.
  4. Flexibility: Be open to changing course if needed. Adaptability allows you to navigate uncertain situations more effectively. I think being flexible may be the best tool in your “embracing change” toolkit. If you are flexible you can handle just about anything.
  5. Learn from failure: Failure is not an end; it’s a stepping-stone toward success. Analyze what went wrong, extract lessons, learn from those lessons and move on with that much more knowledge. Thomas Edison famously tried out over ten thousand filaments before he got the right one for his new light bulb. His philosophy was, ‘I now know nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety- nine filaments that don’t work!” 
  6. Take action: Please take action. Get off your duff and do something, anything…move. Avoid overthinking and paralysis by analysis. Progress happens when you take action even when the outcome is not guaranteed.
  7. Focus on effort: Instead of fixating on certain outcomes, concentrate on giving your best effort. The process of doing, in and of itself is always rewarding.
  8. Develop resilience: Resilience is built through the facing of challenges. Cultivate the ability to bounce back from setbacks with renewed determination.
  9. Celebrate small wins: Acknowledge and celebrate every step forward no matter how small. This boosts motivation and maintains a positive outlook. It also creates a certain momentum of winning and accomplishment that will prosper you to the next step, and the next and the…well, you get it.
  10. Practice patience: Accomplishment takes time, change takes time you need to be able to create lasting power. You need to be able to persevere through uncertainty and delays. People do not fail, they quit. Often they quit when success is just around the next bend. Have patience.
  11. Build a support network: Surround yourself with people who encourage and support your journey. They can offer guidance, comfort and most importantly encouragement to help guide you through the always scary forest of uncertainty.
  12. Trust yourself: Believe in yourself and believe in your team. Have confidence in your ability to make the right choices, the right decisions even when they are the scariest. Confidence in your skills can help you navigate uncertainty with great self-confidence and assuredness. Even the old adage “Fake it until you make it” can apply here.

Always remember that life is actually a series of leaps into the unknown but nothing gets accomplished until you are ready and willing to take that leap. The pursuit of accomplishment in search of excellence involves taking risks and embracing ambiguity. By focusing on growth, learning and the journey itself, you can overcome the paralysis of certainty and accomplish great things. It’s only common sense.