Life is filled with so much uncertainty.

We fret about anything important that is not yet known.

We worry about so many of the things we cannot control.

The False Comfort of Stories

In times of uncertainty, our imagination can run wild.

We invent stories to make sense of the world and give ourselves a way out of the unknown. This is the allure of conspiracy theories: certainty; a promise that you can escape the space where you do not know.

People crave certainty to such a degree that they will often follow anyone who promises it if the uncertainty provides enough discomfort. This can be a leader with a clear vision for a better future, or a demagogue who offers people a simple answer: like that brown people, women, or trans people are the problem.

The only real ways to protect ourselves against being manipulated are awareness, critical thinking, and a commitment to being well-informed.

The Illusion

We convince ourselves that a sufficient level of confidence is an adequate substitute for certainty.

But, the truth is that nothing is certain. Instead, we can only go so far as to share what is presently known, thought, or understood. Even though we innately understand this, we can’t stop reaching for certainty because we so desperately crave the feeling of having our minds fully wrapped around a situation.

Gifts of Certainty

Knowing this about people, you should be mindful to offer up certainty whenever you can but only in noble pursuits.

  • You let people know what the meeting is about later today so they don’t invent their own narrative.
  • You tell people your plan as soon as you have it and you won’t pretend to know answers when you don’t.
  • You are confident when you feel confident, and vulnerable when you do not.

As a leader, you will give people the gift of certainty in uncertain times, whether the stakes are high or low, but especially when tensions run high. When you do this, you do it honestly, and for their benefit.

The Substitute

You may worry that you will not know when to appear certain, and when you should not. For this, I have a simple swap that should help.

What we really crave underneath it all is to be respected enough to know all of the information available. Therefore, the best kind of certainty is truth.

Focus on being truthful with people, because when you’re a leader, the most important certainty people need from you is being sure they can trust you.

Never take that for granted.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *