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Home > Blog > Embracing uncertainty
Out of Our Minds
Monday, March 20, 2006 11:59 PM
Embracing uncertainty
Curt Rosengren on Passionate Work

'The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.'

- Erich Fromm


Do you want to live a mediocre life? I have an easy formula that will all but guarantee that mediocrity: Seek certainty in all that you do.

I'm a firm believer that you can't do anything great and feel a constant state of certainty. The two are like oil and water. Greatness requires stretching beyond the comfortable confines of what's immediately within reach. And when you stretch like that, uncertainty is the inevitable result. (That greatness is whatever you define it to be, whether the kind that goes down in the history books, or simply a life juicily, exquisitely, beautifully lived.)

A constant feeling of certainty is also a pretty good sign that you've hit a rut and no growth is happening. The very structure that creates that certainty also blocks out the new.

Uncertainty on the other hand, while often uncomfortable, is fertile ground for something new to take root. It breaks apart the old way of seeing things and makes room for new possibilities.

I wish I could say that I always embrace uncertainty without reserve. I don't. Sometimes I loathe it and want nothing more than to feel 100% certain all the time. But I know there is too much I want to do and experience, and too much life I want to live. So for the most part, I accept that uncertainty as the price I have to pay to squeeze as much as I can out of the time I have here in this world.


4 comments

Joe McCarthy - 3/22/2006 8:23:26 AM
Inspiring and insightful post! I recently recognized that one of the greatest lessons I'm learning during my entrepreneurial [ad]venture is to never wait until I think I'm ready for anything. Lately, I've even been relaxing the constraint of being certain I want something (which is different than being certain I'm ready for it), and being more willing to simply trust my instincts regarding approximate trajectories.

I've added the Erich Fromm quote to my list of favorite quotes; sychronistically, in doing so, I came across another quote I added to that list from your Passion Catalyst web site, this one by Mark Twain:

'Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.'
Janet Auty-Carlisle - 3/21/2006 2:43:05 PM
Curt, Welcome back. You've been missed by at least one follower....Right on the money as always. And Jerrome, nice way to put it....'Face the fear and do it anyway...' works everytime. Why do you think Fear Factor is followed so closely? People love to see other people face their fears, and then, perhaps fall flat on their faces. The point is to pick yourself back up and move on baby...move on.... Living la vida fearless....Jan
Jerrome - 3/21/2006 2:28:47 PM
I've now gone back and read this post 3 times. I think it's terrific. As we crudely used to say about taking risks when I was just out of college: No balls, no babies.
ethan - 3/21/2006 5:58:15 AM
I think you are absolutely correct....uncertainity surely makes the way for new possibilities to come. http://www.info-blood-pressure.info

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