Can you embrace uncertainty?

The three simple steps you can take to sustain a learning mindset.

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iStock:CatLane
iStock:CatLane

If the prospect of more change leaves your gut-churning, makes your hands suddenly sweaty, and floods your brain with feelings of fear, you’re in good company.  Studies have found that your brain is uniquely vulnerable to uncertainty with some researchers even arguing that fear of the unknown is what gives rise to all the other fears you experience. 

“Instead of understanding that navigating change is most often like walking into a dark room with the lights turned out, requiring you to take small steps and to move slowly so you can adjust, and adjust, and adjust based on continual feedback, leaders often expect to be able to take clear, giant leaps forward quickly,” explained Dr. Peter Senge when we interviewed him recently.

Navigating complex changes requires the development of a learning mindset.  It needs the humility to recognize we are nearly always part of the problem and a commitment to a never-ending process of small steps that we can continually improve upon.  When we feel safe to learn, we’re more willing to take the risks required to bring about impactful change, knowing that a key benefit from ‘failure’ will be continued learning.  

Peter recommended trying the following:

  • Balancing your growth – Can you take inspiration from nature and find more balance between growth and conservation?  Can you identify elements in your world that warrant conservation of what already exists?  
  • Building a learning mindset – How can you make change meaningful for you and others?  How are you staying humble as you navigate your way through complexity with small steps and the permission to adjust, adjust and adjust as you move forward?
  • Embrace the ‘resistors’ – If you’re bumping up against resistance to the changes you want to make, consider what might be important to them that is not being taken into account with these changes.  How you can honor the hopes and motivation of these people is by continuing to talk about it and unfolding and looking for ways to co-create meaningful changes together.

For more ideas on navigating change grab our free e-book here. To discover more evidence-based practices to thrive at work, check out the Making Positive Psychology Work Podcast.

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