Taking the next step can be scary when we’re not certain about the step after that. The result, often, is that we don’t take the step.
If we don’t we’ll never know what we might have missed.
Last week, I wrote a blog that ended with “As to what to do? How to harness the uncertainty we feel? That’s a whole new discussion“
I’m going to make this blog the start of that discussion, starting on the first of November.
I’ve been studying uncertainty, and talking with people about it for several years, and now seems a good time to share what I’ve learned to see what we can do with it that might help others.
Over the next few weeks, and maybe longer, I’m going to focus on all the different aspects of uncertainty I’ve noticed. No “solutions”, no “templates”, just holding uncertainty up to the light of examination.
Uncertainty shrivels when we examine it up close so my hope is that by doing just that, it uncovers ideas and insights for you that helps to shrink your own uncertainty.
It’s our uncertainty that is getting in the way of turning what is easy to see as a crisis into an opportunity to be more you, to do the things you want to, for the reasons you want to, for the people you want to and make a difference.
I’m going to do it to be a discussion, not a lecture.
To unmask and defang uncertainty together.
If the idea attracts you, please sign up below, and we’ll see where this path takes us.
We’re used to dealing with an amount of uncertainty, in certain parts of our lives, now and again.
Today however, we’re faced with multiple uncertainties, from Cornonavirus to Climate Change, and it’s affecting many parts of our lives from our ability to earn a living today, to whether our job will be there tomorrow, and if so, what it will look like.
As we move into winter, the background constant uncertainty as to what weather it will bring and how it will affect us.
The certainties we have been brought up on are failing, from assuming our education would get us a job, to assuming that job would provide a pension, to the level of confidence we have in our leaders in most spheres of our lives.
I have always found archetypes a useful way of thinking about situations, and the people in them. One of my favourite books (and there are many) is King, Warrior, Magician, Lover for the way it gives a good understanding without getting into the depths of Jungian Analysis (which is worthwhile, but only when you want to).
The point is this – we all have many different ways of being who we are depending on the situation we find ourselves in. Sometimes we’re happy to follow and support, at other times open to the beauty around us. At other times, we need to lay claim to what is ours and look after it and at other times to fight for what we believe in.
The warrior archetype is not neccesarily about physical fighting, it is about commitment to a cause. For some right now it will be family, or community whilst for others, like Greta Thunberg it might be the planet. For Margaret Wheatley in “Who do we choose to be?” it’s about the human spirit.
What they have in common is an absolute commitment to a set of beliefs and values. Things that matter beyond money, and comfort , and convenience. The things that matter enough for you to stand up and be counted.
I like this introduction to the Warrior Archetype by Steven Pressfield (I am also a fan of all his work. His series on the Warrior Archetype is recommended)
My point is this. Many of us, for a long time, have been able to ride on the back of a flawed economic model which assumed we could continue to take – from the earth, from what we shared, and in the end from each other, without limit and without giving back. We are now bumping, noisily and painfully into the fundamental error of that assumption.
The warrior in us is bound to our own “code of honour”, and in turn to those others with whom we share it. The problem occurs when our culture and society have different codes.
We can see warriors in action today, in the NHS, in the Police. Fire Service and armed forces, in teachers and social workers. They are typified by putting purpose before money, and when it comes to it, themselves in harm’s way on our behalf.
Then we have the other end of the spectrum – the extractive jobs, those who sit in the stream of the flow of money able to drink effortlessly from that stream. The finance sector, those running platforms, the utilities and the like. Not “bad” people, just passive passengers “doing their job”
The problem occurs when the fate and resources of the warriors are controlled by those with a different, highly individualistic set of values. and no clear defined purpose other than their own wellbeing. The major clash of cultures we see at the moment, and standing outside our doors clapping the warriors is, at its most generous, a token gesture.
I think what it means for those of us in the middle with jobs that are neither activist, nor extractive is that we need to decide which edge we move to. To become either activists for the current system, and embrace those values, or to become activists for a different system exhibiting very different values in pursuit of very different goals,
The key though is activist.
Either for, or against. As the old adage goes, sitting in the middle of the road just gets you run over.
We each need to make a decision.
As to what to do? How to harness the uncertainty we feel?
Every morning i’m seeing increasing numbers of posts about conferences on designing the future. They’re interesting and valuable, but without products that matter to flow through the system being designed they’re as useful as plumbing in a desert.
For the last fifty years, advisory businesses from accounting to design have made excellent livings advising people who make things and helping them improve. We’re at the end of that cycle. We’ve made far too much of what really doesn’t matter and created a plastic economy.
Our shortage now is not advisers – we have shedload upon shedload of them. What we need are people who have ideas about what to make, and how to make it in a world that is in upheaval.
Products and services that will improve our lot, reduce inequality, help heal the climate, restore our ecology and make our souls sing rather than our wallets bulge.
You are out there. You are not head of a corporation, and neither are you likely to fulfil what we need working for someone else. You will not be an adviser.
You will be on fire and frustrated. You will be looking for fellow travellers who will put skin into the game, and share risks. People who will sleep under their desks and worktables whilst pushing to do something remarkable.
We don’t need advisers, we need doers. Makers of things that matter. We need to link them together. Creators of beautiful businesses
The only advisers we need are those who have already done it. Iconoclasts. Warriors for better. People who inspire us by example not advice.