Let me tell you a secret: You gotta give it up!
You will never be able to fortify your life against uncertainty.
The only thing you can be certain of is that life is uncertain
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This may seem like a strange assertion in a post about how to bring certainty to the uncertainty, so let me explain.
You Crave (Un)certainty
That’s right. You crave uncertainty.
You also crave certainty.
If life were completely certain, you would be bored.
If life were completely uncertain, you would be constantly traumatized and probably go into shock.
It is an extreme example, but think about those who suffered in the Nazi camps. Their lives were completely uncertain and subject to the whims of someone completely outside their control.
Their minds were traumatized, and the mind moved into a withdrawn “numbness” as a method of self-preservation.
Human beings crave the certainty of structure and the uncertainty of variety, but a balance of these two needs is essential to a fulfilled life.
Certainty Gives You Power…or Does It?
You may think that certainty gives you power…but does it really?
If you work for a large Fortune 500 company, you may feel empowered because, “it’s a big company with good benefits, and the job I do is as stable as it can be.”
If you work for yourself, you may feel powerful because “no matter what happens, I am the master of my own ship.”
Consciously, we all acknowledge that nothing is 100% stable. We all acknowledge that there are some uncertainties that we just can’t get around in life.
Those who live well are those who deal well with uncertainty.
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Power Lies In the Uncertainty/Certainty Balance
The truth is that power lies in the balance of the two.
Fortune favors the man/woman who can stomach uncertainty and yet, at will, can bring certainty to the uncertainty of life.
Your power lies in your ability to bring certainty to the uncertain experiences of your life.
Years ago, I witnessed this skill in terrifying detail. It was the week before my brother’s wedding.
He arrived in town late and came to my house (where he was staying till the wedding). I woke up when I heard him and his buddy come in.
He slumped down on my couch in the semi-darkness of my livingroom. Shadows cast by the light of the streetlamps outside danced across his face.
“I love you man,” he said.
Thinking he was mimicking a popular TV Commercial, I wasn’t in the mood for the joke at 2 a.m.
“No, seriously, Dude,” he said, “I just almost got killed!”
“What do you mean?” I questioned. “What happened?”
He and his buddy had stopped to help a guy who was pushing his car toward a gas station near my house.
The bars were just starting to close for the night, and a drunk woman driving an SUV plowed into them as the three of them pushed the car.
She hit the car owner and cut him off at the knees. He flipped up over her truck and landed on the street behind her vehicle. My brother and his buddy were knocked down by the force of the collision.
“It all happened so fast, but it seemed like slow motion,” he said. “I saw Timmy (his buddy) dazed and wandering around in the road, so I jumped up and pulled him to the curb. That’s when I heard the other guy groaning.”
“It was awful. He was laying in a pool of blood coming from his head,” my brother said. “He was so scared. I could see it in his eyes.”
The paramedics soon arrived and my brother and Timmy continued on to my house.
What had allowed my brother to respond so clearly in a traumatic moment of uncertainty?
He was able to bring certainty to the moment of surprise and trauma.
The Secret Sauce
The key is being able to create certainty from uncertainty. It not only empowers you, but empowers those around you as well.
People are drawn to those who can successfully exercise this skill.
How can you create certainty in your life?
Here are some tips.
1. Recognize that Life is Uncertain
Remember that “the only thing you can be certain of is that life is uncertain.” (Tweet it)
If you quit trying to fight this fact, you free your mental acuity and focus to be able to bring clarity to a moment of uncertainty.
2. Step Into the Uncertainty
Once you recognize that life is uncertain, step into it. This act will set you apart because nearly everyone else will be running from the uncertainty.
Think of the first responders on 9/11. They rushed toward the extreme uncertainty.
It takes courage and guts. Be courageous. Step into it.
3. Take the Next Visible Step
This is one of the most powerful insights that I share in my book, and it is one that I strive to live by each day.
Take the next visible step.
Taking the next step you can see creates momentum. Suddenly, the fear around you melts away because you are moving forward into the uncertainty.
You’ll also find that as you take a step, the next one (and the next) will always be revealed.
The Results of Certainty
The bi-products of bringing certainty to uncertainty are many. Most noticeable is confidence. Deep “knowing” confidence that you can face whatever it brings to you.
All of us want this deep sense of peace and tranquility, but most of us won’t walk into the uncertainty to get there.
The truth is it always lay within you, but facing your fears reveals the truth to yourself.
When you know for sure, the ‘how’ doesn’t matter.
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Think back on your life and tell me about the times you’ve knowingly (or unknowingly) brought certainty to the tumultuous moments of your life.
Did you experience that confidence and courage that I described? What did you experience? Tell me about it in the comments below!
NOTE: If you haven’t listened to the podcast discussing this topic, listen here.
Photo Credit: quinn.anya