The Opportunity in Uncertainty
Updated: Aug 2, 2019
You know the feeling of getting really good at something? This can show up particularly in a work situation. We start out unsure- overwhelmed by all the new information, acronyms, systems, and expectations of our positions, and end up finding ways to thrive and excel in our work. Eventually, we're offered opportunities to train others, and in doing so we solidify our knowledge. We are someone that others look to when they have questions or need help navigating a system we have traversed countless times before.
And sometimes we get so good that we're offered a promotion. Or we come to the realization that our current job is no longer challenging, fulfilling, or fun. We seek out new opportunities, other experiences and roles.
We boldly and bravely step forward, and take on more- more responsibility, greater expectations, and (hopefully) more money. This is exciting! Thrilling- we are being recognized for our efforts, our hard work, skill, and talent.
And in this new role, we discover that we know...nothing. Despite years of learning and training and leading others, we are right back in that shaky place of not knowing. Of being overwhelmed and unsure.
Sometimes we start to question ourselves- did I really know what I was doing back there? Maybe I was just really good at faking it. Maybe I was just good at that one thing and should not have been stupid enough to think I could do more. I knew it- I suck! I'm incompetent and a fraud. Now everyone will see the real me and what a waste I am...
Here is the crossroads where creative folks have the opportunity to pause.
We find ourselves inhabiting a space referred to in Buddhist practice as Beginner's Mind:
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." ~ Suzuki
While the instinct may be to attack ourselves, or deny and resist the pain of no longer being in control or being the expert, instead we can acknowledge that we are in a place of possibility.
And this is the crux of the matter:
in order to allow ourselves the opportunity to grow, to change, to learn new things, we have to be brave enough to stand in a place of vulnerability, of not knowing, uncertainty.
Because the truth is, we will come to this crossroads countless times throughout our lives. In learning a new role at work, navigating a new relationship, becoming a parent, moving to a new city, mastering a new skill.
We will be faced, again and again, with the depths of our vulnerability. All the tools we have acquired to fix the old problems are suddenly useless. These new problems require different tools, unfamiliar materials, strange contortions.
It can be incredibly humbling for someone who considers themselves an expert to admit that they don't have all the answers. To be brave enough to speak up and say- I need help.
The creativity and courage required is tremendous...and the reward is the visceral understanding that we have within us everything we need to move forward. Open, unafraid, and unsure. It is only by venturing into the shaky, scary, uncertain place that we can see ourselves as we are- beneath the layers of acquired knowledge, skill, and talent we find an inherent wisdom, an unshakable calm, a core of strength we would not otherwise discover.
This is accessible to all of us, but sometimes we just need to be brave enough to ask for help to get there.
If you've found yourself at a crossroads and need a little help navigating the next steps, you can reach out to set up an appointment here.