The Liberation of Uncertainty

How do we live and lead in these times of extraordinary uncertainty? The answer may not only surprise you, but liberate you.

A recent gathering of integral practitioners and leaders, Engaging The Future, created by GTC graduate, Tom Curren, and his partner Allison Conte, looked at how to effectively encounter and lead through the extraordinary breakdowns and breakthroughs that may occur on the world scene over the next ten years. The opinions of the gatherers mimicked results of a recent IBM study of thousands of top business leaders – that the times ahead will be more complex, less predictable, and more chaotic.

These times challenge our capacity to act and lead, and demand greater skillfulness and complex thinking on our part. Yet, what’s being asked of us is more than simply better leadership. The complexity of our global challenges and opportunities are asking for our liberation.

Uncertainty, embraced without resistance, opens the mind. When we let go of our limited assumptions and patterns of thinking, the world opens to an expanse of unbounded choice.

Uncertainty, embraced without resistance, also opens the heart. Only in the straightjacket of our safe convictions can we avoid truly encountering the poignancy of the world in which we live and of our limited part in it. As Steve Jobs said in his 2005 Stanford Commencement Address, “Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know of to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Ultimately there is no certainty. What we truly value is held in the hands of something larger, much more than it is in our own actions. Realizing this, we can find a basic trust in life, play our part, and let our leadership more deeply express our true self. When we resist this uncertainty, we naturally may feel fear. The secret gift in this fear is that it calls us to find and embrace this basic trust, such that we see the true source of our actions.

We live in extraordinary times. Whether we are heading towards a course correction, a transformative fire, or a significant breakdown, one thing that is certain is that we are heading towards the unknown, from the unknown and through the unknown. Embracing this realization, we paradoxically find our mind clearer and heart wider and our leadership flowing from a deeper source.