We crave certainty – it’s one of the fundamental, hard wired features of the brain. The only real choice we have is to be clear about that on which we wish to be certain.
As organisations have grown over the last few generations, both neceesity and experience has moved us away from community, family and beliefs as the focus of our certainty to the workplace. A secure job, a secure pension and a good credit rating has become the focus of our certainty. Yet……
This has been eroding quietly in the background for some time. For the most part, it has suited us – experts and lay people alike – to regard what has really been signal, as “noise” – anomalies that will correct themselves. It remains like this, until signal will no longer be denied, and a “black swan” event occurs – most recently, BREXIT.
Both research and experience demonstrate that people vote based on feelings rather than logic, and that those feelings will be generated by that which repels them most. Yet despite this, campaings were run that made that which most repelled become the politicians – the messengers more than the message, and as a result, we ended up with a Black Swan event. The assumption that we would put a desire for economic certainty over a deep seated sense of unfairness proved catastrophically wrong.
We now face an extended period of increased uncertainty, so, if we are not to lose the plot, where do we get our certainty from now?
The answer I think is that it is where it has always been, but for many has been submerged beneath the external drive for us to comply, to compete and to be economically successful. It lies in our own, individual, unique sense of purpose.
We all have one, even if often we’re not sure what it is. There is no quiz, test or consultant who can tell you what it is, but we all sense it.
It is at the heart of where we perform at our best, and sense reward from doing it for its own sake. It always involves something that is bigger than just us, and always involves, in whatever way, helping others. It is central to our growth, and our resilience. It is “somewhere to stand” that is within our own gift, not determined by others.
It is different for each of us – for some a cause, others a belief and others an exploration.
If we acknowedge it, even just the vague sense of it, we can change things. In “Enabling Genius” we identified three elements of understanding where our “genius” might lie – Desire (of which purpose is part), Identity (an understanding of who we really are, our “authentic self”) and mindset (the way we think).
With a sense of purpose, of our “individual genius” if you will, other things become more evident. We can make better choices about who we wotk with and support – in particular, organisations (and politicians!), and the roles we undertake that grow others, through the organisation, and ourselves.
Rather like fitting your own oxygen mask in place first so you can help others in an emergency, so acknowledging your own, innate, individual purpose is a first step to increasing your sense of certainty, and with that the route to personal and organsiational growth.
Uncertainty is not the enemy, it’s relying on others to provide it for you that is.
If this interests, have a look at Dan Pontefract’s work in this area.