What is my fascination with uncertainty and where does it come from?
There’s a part of my story that might have to do with it: I was born without a thyroid at a time when it was still common to go unnoticed. But I was discovered very early so I was given medication right from the start.
My parents both have a medical background and were of course aware of everything that could mean and their expectations in me weren’t very high, they were just happy I would live. Without any kind of expectations I threw myself into everything until now. From the outside a lot of stuff may have seemed pretty wacky but the truth is I never felt fear, I was never afraid. But I also never felt wreckless, I always had a strategy. But I also didn’t feel courageous because I didn’t have to overcome any fears.
I craved seeking out the “other”, the unknown, the experience of not knowing. I moved to foreign countries, learned foreign languages. I wanted to percolate the underlying structure of the unknown, the nature of the otherness. Grammar, culture, philosophy and how it’s all connected.
After my degree (and a couple of coaching trainings) I started supporting companies and leaders in dealing with East Asia. First I thought it was all about explaining the other, the object of not understanding, the not-understood.
But soon I realized there was something missing, two levels to be exact: the self and the relationship to the object:
So instead of focusing on the object, determining it, controlling it, it’s so much more helpful to focus on the levels you can actually influence.
Just like a foreign language and an unknown culture are an unknown object, the ‘other’, so is the future.
And now with everything going on we become more and more aware of what a strange place this future is. About 25–30 years ago, before the internet became part of our everyday life, it was easier to stay inside our comfort zone, blissfully unaware of the turning wheels of time. But with the rise of new technologies, we know more but understand less and the complexity of the world around us becomes visible and tangible.
With that happening and especially with technologies like AI, IoT and digitization, people are worried. Or in denial. I sense a missing feeling of security, individually. But thinking of why I myself never felt insecure or fearful, I realized that I had a system. Back-up strategies. And I had learned to trust in the process more than in any outcome.
So this is, in a nutshell and still quite raw, what I’ve been thinking about for the last three years: How to lean into uncertainty. Why not only bare, why not only live with it? Because there are untapped possibilities in uncertainty: if anything can happen, anything can happen.