March 23, 2018 Embrace Uncertainty

Remember the six needs we all have from last weeks post?  Uncertainty or variety is one of the six that we all have and meet in either positive or negative ways.  And if we meet any three needs with one action it becomes an addiction.

Annie Duke in her book “Thinking in Bets” says we should embrace uncertainty.  Some say life is like chess, but this is not true because chess is a theoretically predictable game of computation. Once you know the rules, it’s just a matter of playing better than your opponent. Life, on the other hand, is more like poker, in that the conditions are constantly changing.

In poker there are variables you know and others that are left up to chance. The key, then, is to play your hand as best as possible, over and over and over again, which may seem scary. You might prefer to always have a guaranteed, predictable, “right” answer. And that’s natural. But it’s not helpful.  Instead, think of what you don’t know as an advantage.

By embracing this uncertainty, it teaches you to constantly keep learning. It humbles you. It keeps you focused and on the cutting edge. The opposite, a life where you always know the right answer every time, is not only boring, but in a way, meaningless. So, embrace the uncertainty because it’s not going away… and use that constant to your advantage.

Duke explains that psychological research has determined that being wrong feels twice as bad as being right feels good. So, saying, “I’m not sure,” rather than overstating your confidence on the truth of something, is emotionally beneficial. Not knowing something doesn’t necessarily mean there is no objective truth to be found. While some truths can be unknowable, most are not, and that simply means you may need to ask more questions.

In fact, Duke points out that ignorance is the primary force that drives enlightenment. Most significant moments of technological advancement and scientific discovery were spurred by an unanswered question or a desire to achieve something entirely new. So go forth into the great expansive unknown, and fill it with what you’ll learn. Invent something. Make certain what was once uncertain. Embrace what is unknown to you—as it is the surest path towards enlightenment.

What is your biggest blindspot? A skill you know you need but don’t currently have. By acknowledging and facing this need for improvement, you can finally attack it.

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