How to Deal with Uncertainty? Use the 3 Cs!

When was the last time you were in the grip of uncertainty?

One thing’s for sure, we’ve all felt the squeeze of uncertainty in our lives from time to time!

For example, here’s my short list:

  • Changing jobs and relocating (at least 6 times)
  • The day I got married (uncertain about career direction and income, not my bride…just to be clear!)
  • Anything related to the birth of the first child,
  • Changing careers in the mid-stream of life and moving to Florida,
  • Starting an Executive Coaching business from scratch,
  • Any misunderstandings with my wife or children
  • Starting a new (family) business at 64,
  • Having a new brace built for my leg (being uncertain if I could relearn to walk with it, etc.)

You see, uncertainty is one the only things that’s really certain in our lives. Here we are in the early 21st century and low and behold it’s still standing.

We live in a world of constant uncertainty.

Take a second to read these recent news headlines:

  • Chevron posts fourth-straight profit decline from oil price rout (Bloomberg)
  • Stressed, Tired, Rushed: A Portrait of the Modern Family (NYT)
  • This is the worst U.S. earnings season since 2009 (Bloomberg)
  • A growing disenchantment with October ‘pinkification’ (NYT)
  • 9-year-old Ohio football player dies during practice (Sporting News)
  • Obama to send small special ops to Syria (Miami Herald)

Any uncertainty triggered here? What emotions are triggered­ ­­— anxiety, bewilderment, confusion, disorientation or fear?

We live in a world cluttered 24/7/365 with such eye catching headlines (and not much in the way of details and facts) that give us 30–60 second sound bites — after which we hang on the edge of the proverbial cliff wondering when the next shoe is going to drop!

Before the next shoe drops…

How do we go about dealing with uncertainty in an effective manner when we generally try to avoid it at all costs?

Here are a few things I’ve learned thus far from tackling uncertainty in my own life:

  • First and foremost; realize, accept and embrace the fact that uncertainty is a part of life (and is extremely valuable to us.
  • Second; separate fact from myth (and headlines) by asking and sorting through the facts.
  • Third; acknowledge that “the quality of our life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably live with.” (according to Tony Robbins)

Becoming comfortable at embracing and managing uncertainty (along with the associated fear and anxiety) determines the degree to which great transformation occurs within us.

Don’t self-destruct.

How do we make transformation occur instead of destruction? 

According to Dr. Martha Mazvensky from the International Institute of Management Development we can simplify, streamline and amplify using the 3 Cs:

  1. Be Clear – What am I about?  Where am I headed?  What’s important?  These are values based questions; because in times of uncertainty our anchors are our core values and mission. The economic and relational winds, rain and storms will show up. Yet it’s in the midst of these micro-cell outbursts that we need to anchor ourselves to those things deep within us. You may have to remind yourself of these anchors repeatedly, but there’s enormous resilience and power in your dreams, aspirations and core values.
  2. Be Curious – Curiosity doesn’t kill the cat it keeps the cat alive! The fact is we can never know everything; therefore curiosity is the natural antidote to uncertain situations.  What are you thinking about and focused on – the challenge…or the opportunity that’s within the challenge?  Once you reframe your mindset your creativity is triggered because curiosity creates an open mind and a humble spirit that allows new ideas to emerge.
  3. Be Courageous – Courage relates directly back to curiosity. Have the courage to acknowledge that you don’t know everything. Let go of control and courageously step forward. Remain disciplined, determine, and anchored to your core values.

At the end of the day, uncertainty isn’t a bad thing. Although you might find it unnerving and may resist it; it’s through uncertainty that the best ideas are created, the best characters are molded, and the best lessons are learned.

Earlier in my life I focused on managing uncertainty, attempting to bring certainty to the uncertain elements of my life and make herculean efforts to be in control of as many pieces of my life as possible.  After many miles on the journey, I’m more passionate about thriving in the face of uncertainty – focused on living in the present and enjoying every moment I’m in.

I’m now comfortable knowing that whenever uncertainty arises it can be embraced and worked through – consequently uncertainty no longer eats away at me like it did earlier in my life.  My hope is that you may feel the same way one day soon!

Make it a great day…or not…the choice is yours!