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Posts Tagged ‘uncertainty

How to face uncertainty?

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rock-climberIn my previous post, related to the choice of studies, I was talking about the fact that to predict the future is something becoming more and more difficult. Since now 25 years I am working, and looking around me, what is for sure is that uncertainty is growing. Who can predict now how will be the world in the next 6 months, or in the next 10 years? We try to make predictions in many areas and sometimes, we have to note that these predictions are not verified. How many times have we heard some economists explaining us the origins of financial crisis they were unable to predict.

The big question is how to face uncertainty as we don’t know in advance what the evolution will be in many domains? There are in my mind two types of uncertainty to take into account; the uncertainty linked to our environment and the evolution of it, and our own uncertainty, or I would say our own uncertainties. Facing uncertainties induce questions and make people worried. What will be my future? Will I have a job? Or simply will I be able to do this task, to face this challenge?

Our own uncertainties and the uncertainties linked to our environment interact. Most of you probably know the famous Peter Drucker’s quote saying “The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself”. But to be able to create something, we need to have a good perception of the future and be able to perceive the trends and the changes of our environment.  But facing the environment uncertainties means to face also our own uncertainties, with a range of questions we are putting to ourselves. What will be the future and will I be able to face it? Have I the capabilities to face challenges and what challenges will be? To face our uncertainties means to try to know a bit more about ourselves.

To consider our own uncertainties is to be aware of our lack of knowledge and experience. By mentioning this, we underline the key role of education but also of curiosity. Education and school are the fundamental tools to develop our knowledge and capabilities. Education and knowledge will give us the opportunity to become first human being and to develop our autonomy, giving us more possibilities to make choices. This is why the role of education and the way to educate people are fundamental. It is important to develop curiosity, to encourage people to learn new things by their own, to discover new interests. To develop our knowledge is probably the best answer to the question related to my previous article: what studies have I to choose? Most of the time, it is difficult to know in advance if we will enjoy things we don’t know now.

This is why people have to be encouraged to make experiences, to be curious and to try new things. It implies the necessity to take risks. By multiplying such experience in a process of serial trials, you expand your possibilities fields and you dispel your own uncertainties. You will probably enjoy something new that you never suspected before that you could enjoy. We never know in advance what things could be if we could enjoy it or not, as we don’t know them.  Such experimentation process make that your own uncertainty dispels: you know that you enjoy something, that you are able to do it or not. By expanding your interest and experience fields, you discover new possibilities, you build new competences, but you also empower your self-confidence.

Self-confidence and competences are probably the two most important key components to dispel your own uncertainties. The development of these two components will allow you to maximize your chance to attract challenges and opportunities. With all your experiences, you will build your background, a knowledge base including information that helps you to analyze situations and to develop appropriate strategies. Nevertheless, despite the fact that success cannot be guaranteed anytime, it is also important to develop and keep critical mind. When facing a similar situation we faced by the passed, we should avoid making a copy-paste of previous solutions we applied. Things are less linear than before, and we have to take all the elements of the situation into consideration to implement solutions and action plans. It is part of an efficient learning process.

It is obvious we cannot live in an environment without uncertainty. But by developing a learning attitude, we can create a virtuous circle, where experiences and risk taking contribute to empower our self-confidence. A zero risk environment doesn’t exist, but this virtuous circle will allow us to be creative and to be stronger to face it and to quit more easily our comfort zone.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

July 8, 2014 at 06:07

Does uncertainty boost talent and creativity?

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If something is growing since I started my professional career 23 years ago, it is uncertainty. As each of us can see around, the world is fast moving. By looking how the world moved, we just can note that it doesn’t move on a linear way. A fundamental question we have to think about, is how can we drive our own way, our own career, if predictions become impossible?

This question, we thought about it for the first time when we are at school. At a certain time, we have to choice the studies we want to make at the university or high school. By the past, such choice was driven a bit by passion, but also by the opportunities such studies can offer. Today, how can we answer to such question when your future job probably doesn’t exist yet. For instance, did you heard from webmaster or social media 20 years ago? What answer can we give to such question today?

Fundamentally, before to be workers, we are first human being, and a strong education is the basic to develop citizenship, but also to become…the person we are. By learning languages, mathematics, philosophy, we are acquiring matters feeding our brain, developing our intelligence, and maybe making appear some talent and passion. Knowledge and talents are the key component to catch opportunities, and to build a wealthy career. This is a first step. As some of us can think, there are people who have strong education, but who are facing professional difficulties, due to difficult economical circumstances, or because there are doing a too specific job for which the demand is low. Does it mean that people are definitively lost in such circumstance, that there are front of a dark horizon?

Today, education is not something we only acquired when we were at school, but it is something we have to feed and acquire on an ongoing way, for the simple reason that in a fast moving environment, we have to move fast also. Learning has to be a natural exercise. Our brain is a muscle we have to make work too. As I mention above, all what we can learn can drive us to new opportunities, but the combination of skills can make us creative and develop new ideas in order to provide answers to new demands, to create new opportunities too. I would mention Steve Jobs who doesn’t invent the graphical interface (it was first a Xerox invention), but he was the first who perceived the potential of such technical process. The combination of skills is what Steve Jobs mention in his famous speech at the Standford University ( * ): connecting the dots. You never know all what you can do with some skill forward. You can only note it backward.

Talent and skills are certainly the most appropriate answer to face uncertainty. But what is also even most important is experiences. Each of us, we developed skills and talents by studying at school or by reading books, but also by working on several projects during our career. Each project is probably an important source of knowledge, leading to make some statements, pushing us to find solutions, to innovate and to get constant feedback of the stakeholders of the project. With such feedback, we are feeding our own knowledge base, and building a strong reference system, allowing us to create and develop more efficient solutions, to face much bigger challenges. By acquiring and developing talents, by acquiring experience, we empower our self-confidence, and we are much more prepared to face uncertainty.

Uncertainty has not to be seen in a negative way, but as a potential of opportunities. I remember few years ago when I went on holiday in France to make a bicycle trip during 10 days. Each day we started, we had no idea what we will do or see during the day. On the evening, we had wonderful images of landscape, of interesting visits and conversations with local people. This is probably one of the most beautiful holidays I had. By thinking to much in advance to scenarios, you are often disappointed by the reality.

Uncertainty is not something we can’t face. It is something that can bring us energy and motivate us to develop talents. It implies we need to have objectives and passion to reach them, to be self-confident. It is something we can be prepared, if we work on our capacity of adaptation, if we are flexible, if we decide to expand our horizon. But as mention Lynda Gratton, in her book “The shift”, we need to be “active creators” and not passive consumers. It is not forbidden to think that uncertainty is something contributing to boost talent and creativity.

Blog references: (*) http://www.ted.com/talks/steve_jobs_how_to_live_before_you_die.html , (**) http://www.lyndagratton.com/

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

May 1, 2012 at 16:48

How to face the uncertainty?

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How to deal with uncertainty?

By having a look around you, by reading newspapers about several subjects, you can note that uncertainty is increasing, and that we have to face it more and more. When we think closer to that subject, we can wonder ourselves if there are still certainties. You never know what can happen tomorrow with your health, with your job, with many things. There are different types of uncertainties. There are things happening by coincidence, and things we can more or less predict but we can not say if these things will happen or not. To make predictions becomes more and more difficult, because things are changing faster than before. What was true yesterday is not true anymore today, and it is hard to make predictions on a long term basis.

We can talk about uncertainty in different areas, but here, let us talk about the daily uncertainties we have to face in our job or in our business environment. Uncertainty can impact positively or negatively our career or business perspectives. Another question is to know how are we facing uncertainty. And we can note that for some people, uncertainty is something there are scared about, but for other people, it is a source of motivation, giving them a lot of energy. Is it something impossible to be able to face uncertainty? Certainly not, but as in many things, in many goals you want to reach, you can implement different strategies, in function of the constraints and the circumstances. As in each problem, you can find a solution, if you decide to take care of it.

The first point is to face the uncertainty. By burying your head in the sand like an ostrich, you will certainly be heading straight for disaster. You need first to analyze and understand the source of uncertainty, determine the potential issues and what are the different alternatives you can develop to solve the issue, what are the solutions that will help you to maximize your chance to succeed by facing uncertainty. It is important to be ready all the time, and not to think about things when you only need them. With other words, I could say that uncertainty is probably something which can make avoid putting you in danger. A too comfortable situation makes you falling in a routine, where you don’t see the necessity to make efforts, to improve yourself, and when you perceive a danger, when an issue appears, it is most of the time to late to take action in order to escape to the troubles.

You can decrease uncertainty by maximizing the potential opportunities. But as mentions Philippe Gabilliet, a French professor in leadership of a MBA school, in order to attract the opportunities to you, you have to be an opportunity yourself. To be an opportunity, you have to offer added value, to be an expert or to offer a bundle of competences, to be able to show proven experiences, and to show a fair attitude. By optimizing these assets and by building a good network, you can maximize your chance to have opportunities. Don’t forget also that most the time, you get once an opportunity, not twice. Each opportunity can bring a lot of lessons, reveal new interests and capabilities. Each opportunity can contribute to improve our knowledge base, to improve skills. By expanding your skills, your knowledge, by having a curious mind, you maximize the potential opportunities you can face, and you can profile new career or business perspectives. By maximizing our chance to be able to face new opportunities, we become more self-confident, and we can face the uncertainty on a confident way.

To be able to face uncertainty implies also to have margins. As mentioned before, by improve our capabilities and skills, contributing to increase our chance, we are creating us margins, allowing us to face uncertainty on a more confident way. The margins allow us to have the time and the possibility to develop different alternatives in order to get out of a difficult situation. Never forget also the material margin. For your business or for your own life, keep always financial margins. It is the challenge we have to face everyday.

The key points to face uncertainty are anticipation and long-term view. I mentioned it is difficult to predict things on a long-term basis, but by analyzing different trends, you can develop and implement alternatives bringing long-term effects. Anticipation will allow you to have solutions before the problems occur, and you will be prepared to use the appropriate solution in function of the circumstances. And even you will probably find another solution than the one you prepared, because by pursuing such process, you become more creative, your mind is used to deal with that.

I could summarize this topic as follow. Imagine you are falling into the water. You will probably be scared if you cannot swim. If you are facing the problem, you will be convinced that you have no other choice to swim. Your natural reflex will be to try to swim, or at least, to try to keep the head out of water. But before to be confronted to such problem, learn to swim. It is important also to be trained on a regular basis in order to improve your endurance. If after this, you should fall into the water, you will not be scared, because you are trained to face the situation. And if you are a bad swimmer, and you suspect that there is a possibility to fall into the water, think about another solution: take a lifebelt with you!

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

July 26, 2011 at 21:17