When confronting a situation freighted with anxiety and ambiguity — a pandemic, a recession, a job loss, an unwanted family change — most of us can imagine no upside. We become paralyzed, caught in a state I call unproductive uncertainty. But some can see their way through such moments and find a positive path forward. How?
For the past five years I have studied people who excel in the face of uncertainty. My subjects have included innovators, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and Nobel prizewinners — along with gamblers, paramedics, and surfers. I’ve identified the approaches they use to navigate turbulent times and discover the potential hidden within them. In this article I share three habits that can help you develop your own “uncertainty capability.”
Open Your Eyes to All Options, Present and Future
When threatened with unproductive uncertainty, we may become so focused on the immediate situation that we overlook the broader possibilities. This not only creates disquiet but can also lead us to make rash decisions or forgo opportunities because we don’t even recognize them. Psychologist call this tendency to miss the bigger picture status quo bias, big-fish-small-pond effect, and relative deprivation.
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