Welcome friends to Episode #121 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. If I were to make a top 5 list of things I coach on, tolerating uncertainty would be up there. An achiever’s nightmare is uncertainty and lack of control. That sentence alone may have given you the shivers (and not in a good way). Even if you think you are pretty laid back and flexible, when you don’t get what you want fast enough or if things sit in limbo too long, it can feel intolerable. How do you build up a tolerance for something you really don’t like. That’s exactly what we’ll talk about on today’s podcast.
I’d like to take you on a journey. One where you feel seen and heard, not because something’s wrong with you – but because there is something really magical about understanding uncertainty.
Do you remember what it feels like to not know the answer to something and it be ok? It’s probably been a really long time. Ever since we were young and in school, the whole point was to know the answer. As we get older and more advanced in our careers, we are literally paid to have answers to problems.
As a young kid, there was much more value to exploration and creativity. Now, I see such a drive to explore everything but for the purpose of figuring out what that one thing is going to be that we’ll be good at and then do it forever. Even with kids, we had a conversation with friends of ours about the activities on our kids’ agendas. What is too much? What’s the point of it? How do you know when you’re leading them or letting them take the lead?
The same thing happens as an adult. I remember making big strides to master efficiency. How much time could I squeeze out of the day to get everything done? Having a car service was because I needed to work and not drive, not because of the luxurious experience. While this is still something that I appreciate, I also have more tolerance for inefficiency, not because I’m being lazy.
The reason is because there is something more I want than efficiency. I’m open now to opportunities for connecting with others or for being more intentional. I may lose money or time in the process, but it’s worth it. What’s the point of doing more with my time if it’s not meaningful to me or not helpful?
Giving up something is doable. You just don’t want to give up anything, be it time, money or resources – unless we see that there is something even better on the other side.
We see uncertainty as loss of control.
Tolerating uncertainty is the act of desiring something more than the uncertainty. One thing that could be more important than uncertainty is freedom. Freedom to do what you want with your time. Freedom to not hold control as our #1 value. Uncertainty isn’t always a bad thing, but we have bought into the concept that it’s not good. We’ve labeled uncertainty to mean that something is wrong when in reality, uncertainty is the prelude for change.
You might have the thought that “leaders are not uncertain, therefore I shouldn’t be uncertain because I am a leader.” Is that really true? What if leaders saw uncertainty as a fact of life? What if uncertainty just meant that you were grounded in reality? What if you didn’t need to know “how” right now?
If you didn’t know how, you would become more resourceful. You would create a path that is unique. You would look at what’s happening around you and take the momentum and move with it. If you were grounded in reality you would find yourself handling real world problems, not escaping them. Uncertainty is actually the space you need to draw upon your own wisdom and intuition to exercise that muscle of listening to your inner voice.
Who are you when you don’t have the next thing done or planned? When the path isn’t laid out for you, you end up creating it or making more intentional choices about which path to take. I want you to own that there is a great responsibility to tolerating uncertainty – not an overwhelming uncertainty, but an opportunity to be in a place where you get to create something that is better than what you knew before. That is the responsibility of someone who can lead us to what’s next.
Tolerating uncertainty is really about cultivating patience for results. Patience isn’t about just being nice or flexible with people. Patience is about your tolerance for uncertainty. How committed you are to growth and results will be how tolerant you are with uncertainty. Growth is not linear. The results you want to see in your life aren’t linear.
Think about what you’ve already accomplished and have certainty around. Many of you have experience at this point in your life with your careers or with people. Yet, we still feel uncertain about something. There’s no amount of knowledge that will cure intolerance for uncertainty. Why? Because it is a goalpost that keeps shifting farther out. Once you make a decision or let something go, you find something else to feel uncertain about and to mull over.
This is how you go from a life of checking off the boxes to feel like you’re in control, to someone who is actively looking at their lists and saying – “is this really necessary or important?” How do you do that? You cultivate certainty in knowing that you CAN tolerate uncertainty.
When you join me in coaching, I teach you practices for how to tolerate uncertainty and create safety from within. Instead of trying to master everything outside of you and hoping that you can keep making money the way you have or having the job you currently have – you will master everything inside of you. You will become the person that isn’t stressed about everything and everyone. You will have a sense of patience that allows you to enjoy your life and the experiences that exist today.
When you tolerate uncertainty, you lead from within. You feel a different sense of purpose and get excited about change and uncertainty.
If you want those results, sign up for a coaching consultation today at https://mayempson.com/contact. I will show you how you can tolerate more uncertainty, create safety from within so that you can have MORE while doing less. It’s time to step into the energy of the leader who knows that this kind of original thinking IS their next step. Less control means more freedom and more results. Let go of the job, way of working or thinking, and who you think you are so that the next version of life has a chance to step in. It’s waiting for you.
That’s it for this week. Have an amazing one and I’ll talk to you next time.
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