Are you guilty? Illusions & Delusions of Certainty.

When things are uncertain, we try to create certainty. Often though whatever we’re creating or telling ourselves is simply an illusion (false or misleading impression of reality) or a delusion (false belief or opinion). We create illusions and delusions of certainty to quell the discomfort of uncertainty and ambiguity. 

We make roadmaps, we make plans, we sit in the muck that we’re stuck in because we’re “sure” about it, we’re comfortable there… When things are uncertain, we grab on to whatever we can hold on to – like when we experience turbulence in a plane. When in doubt, you tell yourself what you need to hear to maintain homeostasis, to survive another day. Problematically in organizations, we’re telling ourselves this nonsense 24/7. It’s not just “sometimes”, it’s become the primary mode of operating. 

We pretend to know exactly the path to the future by writing it down – we make glossy powerpoints, roadmaps, a plan… of course we can’t create these tangible “certainty creating” artifacts without meetings, and meeeeetings and meeeeeeeetings. Then we end up making a pretend budget for approval to go with our pretend plan. It all creates false certainty that we desire so dearly. I can say this because I\’ve done it. Guilty. 

The conundrum: what we’re doing does not match reality. If we take a look for a second at the world around us, it appears that we have to up our game to operate more effectively in uncertainty and ambiguity rather than work so damn hard to create false certainty, false reassurance. 

What if instead we created clarity and more certainty about Where we’re going, What we’re trying to achieve, even Why it matters, instead of certainty in the How? We could get really clear about the outcomes we’re trying to achieve, the north star we’re moving towards, the values we’re living, our purpose. 

Maybe we could understand what that destination or outcome is worth and if it’s worth moving towards. We figure out the how along the way and find the shortest route as we learn more. 

Food for thought: What if we put our immediate energy toward iterating to the future we want to create… in bits of certainty stepping (failing, succeeding, learning) toward this very strong and clear outcome? Ahhh! We’d have to be adaptive along the way? And our meetings would have to have purpose? Wha?! And……… we’d have to admit we don’t know all the answers. Just realness, and a clear-ish destination. 

Then what?

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