In my life I face risk and uncertainty. What is the difference between risk and uncertainty? How can I be confident in the future?
I let the past go with all its issues and tensions. I put the future on hold with all its risks and uncertainties. I concentrate on this moment and discover how to be the very best I can be, how to be the person I really am.
When my focus is strong my experience is deep. When I am totally in this present moment then nothing else matters, nothing else can intrude. I am me, deep down inside, I am all I am meant to be, inside and outside.
But sometimes I realise that being in the present is an escape. I find I am avoiding the future, fearful of the uncertainties that lurk there, fearful of the risks I face.
It is not possible for me to completely live in the ‘now’. I have to face the future. I need to plan for my growth. I need to choose a direction, select or create a path for myself. Only then can I take the path and on it, live in the present moment.
The problem with the future, however, is dealing with the risks and uncertainties, facing all those unknowns that cross my path.
“…there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns; the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” (Donald Rumsfeld)
To many people the future is a scary place, a place of danger where dragons lie in wait to breathe fire all over them. They don’t know how to deal with it and so become frozen in their present unable to move forward, unable to grow or develop.
Many men live there, in their certainties, in the life they know. They are good at what they do and they don’t want to move beyond what they’re good at. They frustrate their partners and colleagues who can see such potential in them, frustrate because they won’t explore, frustrate because they fear the future, fear failure, fear ridicule.
Is this where you live? Do you frustrate those around you? Do you fear failure and ridicule?
Some years ago I was the Managing Director of a small lighting design practice in the UK. We were doing some great, well recognised, work, but financially things were not good. The firm went into receivership amidst rancour amongst the directors. We were all thrown into deep uncertainty about the future, we were all risking our financial and professional futures.
Fairly quickly I was put in touch with a potential business partner who was interested in putting up money to keep the practice going under a new name. I went into business with him because it reduced the risks, significantly, while not changing the uncertainties, they were still numerous.
In doing this my future was distinctly brighter because I had the risks under control but could still revel in the uncertainties. How can this be? What is the difference between risk and uncertainty? How do you measure risk vs uncertainty?
When you are uncertain, you are not sure of what is going to happen. When you take precautions against an event, you are reducing the risk of it happening. It is clear then, that risk is when you know about a potential hazard is there and can make its occurrence unlikely, but uncertainty is when you know nothing about the outcome.
Risk constantly faces us as human beings. There are risks to health, wealth and happiness. There are risks from other people, from natural occurrences and from systems failure. These risks can be expected and steps can be taken against their effect. You can protect yourself against them. Insurance is a simple form of protection, skill and awareness are important forms of protection.
Uncertainty is simply the fact that we don’t know what is going to happen. Even understanding uncertainty we cannot mitigate these we just have to deal with them as they happen. While risks can seen as threatening, uncertainty can be seen as stimulating, understanding their differences is so important.
When you step into uncertainty with confidence that you can face whatever occurs, when you become comfortable with uncertainty, that shows the internal strength you have. The knowledge that you can face whatever life brings you is a powerful state of certainty to be in. Managing uncertainty helps your internal sense of certainty. You have certainty in your accepting uncertainty.
The power of living in this uncertainty enables your growth and development. It speeds it up. From this place you can live in the present moment without fear of what is coming.