uncertainty

by Kevin Eikenberry

Uncertainty.  

We all face it in some fashion every day – after all no one knows exactly what the future holds.

But as we have lived/are living through the pandemic and all the associated change it has created, uncertainty is more of a watch word than ever. While we could make a long list of areas in life where uncertainty seems greater than ever, we need look no further than our work and work”place” to find plenty.

What is it that you don’t know yet?

Maybe you have a return to the office plan but aren’t sure how well it will work.

Maybe your organization has announced a plan, but not implemented it.

Maybe you will be working a hybrid schedule and aren’t sure how you will juggle two different work routines.

Even if you are in an industry where work has been and must be done in person, there are still changes and a murky future for you due to staffing, supply chain issues and more.

As we face more uncertainty, we tend to get more anxious, stressed, and worried.  And while those emotions are understandable, those same emotions don’t equip us to flex, adjust and thrive as might be required as things change.

What conquers uncertainty?

Since we don’t have a crystal ball to eliminate the uncertainty of the future, we need something that will help us overpower the challenges that uncertainty. It’s not a drug, a potion, or a powder.  It’s confidence.

Author and professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter wrote:

Confidence isn’t optimism or pessimism, and it’s not a character attribute. It’s the expectation of a positive outcome.

When we look into an unknown future with confidence we realize that we can adapt and figure it out as we go.  When we look into an unknown future without confidence we are stymied and too often stuck, unable to adjust.

Where to find confidence

While there is more to learn about building your confidence than can be written in one short article, you can start by looking back.

  • Reflect on past situations when you faced uncertainty.  
  • Note times when you navigated the uncertainty successfully.  If you did it then, you can do it again.
  • Look at times where you weren’t confident when facing uncertainty, yet things went better than you imagined.  This will remind you that the worst-case scenario doesn’t always occur.
  • Look at times things didn’t turn out so great, but look at them through the lens of 20/20 hindsight. Note that even if it didn’t go well, the end result was something that you survived and learned from.

In short, we can build our confidence by looking backward for clues to reinforce our ability and resilience.

As you look into an uncertain future, looking back will help you navigate that future better than you might imagine today.

This piece was originally posted in Remarkable Results, a LinkedIn Newsletter. If you want more practical ideas for remote and hybrid work, and what the future of work will hold, you can subscribe (for free!).

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Kevin Eikenberry is a recognized world expert on leadership development and learning and is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group (http://KevinEikenberry.com). He has spent nearly 30 years helping organizations across North America, and leaders from around the world, on leadership, learning, teams and teamwork, communication and more.
Twice he has been named by Inc.com as one of the top 100 Leadership and Management Experts in the World and has been included in many other similar lists.

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