The Upside of Uncertainty


Though stressful and uncertain moments are difficult, they are the crucible moment that unlock opportunities for personal growth, innovation, and creativity. The Upside of Uncertainty offers a hopeful framework for making the leap across uncertainty even in the face of limitation and constraint. It’s filled with tools and personal applications based on interviews, research, and personal experience, all aimed at helping you start moving now.

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Every brilliant insight, choice, act, and innovation comes only after a phase of uncertainty. And the uncertainty brought about by every mistake, setback, discouragement, and even disaster carries possibility within it.
  2. We are all wired to fear the downsides of uncertainty, but we forget that change, creation, transformation, and innovation rarely show up without some measure of it.
  3. Uncertainty is here to stay. Learning to face the unknown well is critical to our ability to survive and thrive.
  4. There are four groups of tools that increase uncertainty ability, organized around an uncertainty first-aid cross to remind you that there is help available for facing the unknown (see figure I-2). Reframe tools enable and strengthen a perspective shift, motivating you to look creatively for all the possibilities and to believe in an upside that you can’t see yet. Prime tools prepare you by encouraging projects that matter to you, taking into account your personal uncertainty landscape to enable satisfying outcomes when it’s time to act. Do tools describe how to thoughtfully unlock the rewarding possibilities hidden in the uncertainties you face to promote a future you want to live in. Sustain tools give comfort and remind you why and how to keep going, or how to pivot when things don’t go as planned.
  5. Discovering the upside of uncertainty starts with undergoing a radical shift in perspective: Instead of fearing and avoiding the unknown, you recognize and embrace it as the origin of possibility. It’s that simple.
  6. We coined the phrase possibility quotient to describe one’s likelihood of enabling positive change and transformation.
  7. A frontier is really any boundary between where we feel comfortable and where we don’t. And there are an infinite number of frontiers available to each of us, because every aspect of our lives includes a comfort zone that we have taken as a given and that constricts the possibilities available to us.
  8. Although they can be scary or intimidating, “you can only do your best work when you are at the frontier,” he argues. “You have to be at the frontier if you want to do something new.”
  9. While frontiers are about expanding the current boundaries of your life, the adjacent possible is about the untapped opportunities nearby, ready to be discovered.
  10. How do we tap into this expansive field of opportunity hovering just out of sight? First, we start by paying greater attention.
  11. Adjacent possibles also reveal themselves when we look thoughtfully at problems we face.
  12. Adjacent possibles also reveal themselves when we question assumptions.
  13. Adjacent possibles reveal themselves, too, when we purposefully recombine things.
  14. Adjacent possibles can also reveal themselves when we ask what’s missing.
  15. Finally, adjacent possibles reveal themselves by questioning the status quo,
  16. According to neuroscience studies, stories have a remarkable ability to change our thinking, for example by demonstrating how our minds literally sync with each other as we hear a story.
  17. Parents teach their children to live their dreams by living their own dreams.
  18. The most resilient people in the face of uncertainty—the ones who feel the least anxiety, the ones who are more likely to take the most worthwhile risks, the ones who get back on the horse when they get knocked off—adopt the perspective that the goal of life is internal and that the results are partly outside their control.
  19. We don’t control magic, but we can make more room for it. Paying attention like an artist increases our chances for serendipity and inspiration.
  20. Seelig says that luck is like the wind—although we can’t control it, we can build a sail to catch it.
  21. The role we suggest you inhabit is that of the artist (poet, painter, film director, chef) who pays attention, learns to be transfigured by the ordinary materials of life, and then from that place creates beauty, meaning, or even revelations of flavor that thrill and inspire us.
  22. Seeking magic (serendipity, good luck) starts by sharpening your senses, increasing your awareness, and opening yourself up to conversations and situations where magic can happen.
  23. cultivate the garden.
  24. Living “as if” also turns out to be an important tool for innovators creating new industries.

What I got out of it:

A great reminder to not only tolerate but embrace the difficult times, the uncertainty, for that is where true change and innovation comes from

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