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“The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.” ~Erich Fromm

A yearning for certainty is inherent to human psychology, hence the appeal of extremists who offer a salve for the longing. Come over to our camp! We’ve got the answers. We will rid you of your anxiety!

This is the appeal of ISIS, of the religious right, of Donald and Bernie.

Fear breeds violence, and it doesn’t need to be dramatic and big to be real. Our corporate environments are riddled with uncertainty; oil-related trickle-down effects, volatile financial markets, and changing digital influences are taking a toll on those involved in all kinds of industries.

There is no single “answer” today that can assuage the world’s growing divisiveness and uncertainty except this: Wrap your arms around uncertainty and make it your friend.

I am not being flippant—in fact, I am quite serious.

The most “in control” people I know are those who have relinquished their need for certainty. Want it? Sure, it’s part of our make-up. But need it? That’s a recipe for disaster. It’ll block creativity, dampen innovation and reduce collaboration.

Control freaks are driven by a desire for certainty, stability and predictability. Micro-management often results, eroding trust and breeding doubt. This is true whether you’re a mother or a manager.

Uncertainty breeds anxiety, the disease du jour. Anxiety indicates that you’re in a place of choice; it exists at the boundaries of where we were and where we want to go, of who we were and who we want to become.

That’s the good news, that you have a choice. The bad news is that when under pressure we all tend to make reactive, patterned choices driven by short-term desire for assurance.

It’s up to each of us to make proactive choices when our yearning for certainty in an increasingly world prompts reactive, hostile reactions; to take a breath and remember what we want long-term, not what will most speedily relieve the tension short-term.

Until we lift the rock of uncertainty and embrace the meaning hiding beneath—a more difficult option because it demands consciousness and effort—we will continue to make reactive choices in the face of an ever-changing world.

And frankly, I don’t think we can afford that kind of short-term thinking any more. It’s too expensive in the long-term.

“If there’s one thing that’s certain in business, it’s uncertainty.” ~Stephen Covey

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