Contrary to conventional wisdom, success depends less on the virtues of talent and drive than it does one’s ability to withstand fear and uncertainty. Many people display inclinations toward one skill or another in their early lives. Many champion the title of best in the school, team or town – but talent is only a part of the equation. What separates the outliers from the rest is not the amount of discomfort they are willing to bear – the difference is whether or not they can withstand uncertainty.
Uncertainty is the fertile ground of your life. It is the grey area in which anything is possible. The wisest person in the room is the one who never believes they are the smartest – genuinely intelligent people live in uncertainty, they know that there is always more to learn, see and discover. Uncertainty is the first step of any worthwhile endeavor. It requires a fearlessness. Because for as powerfully transformative as it is, it is also the human emotion we are least inclined to tolerate.
When nothing is certain, anything is possible. – Bianca Bass
The word comfort is laced through so much advice that we share: step out of your comfort zone, make enough to be comfortable, don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right. But this doesn’t account for the ways in which our feelings often betray us. Emotions are the way the brain pieces together sensory stimulations with its perceived environment. It’s easy to see why we can become anxious when our chest tightens and we associate the feeling with being disapproved of by friends. From this, an association is created.
In their life’s work, most people want to be successful without having to sacrifice their comfort. That’s why so many people perceive “success” to be synonymous with risk reduction (think of things such as stable housing, a guaranteed job, etc.) It befuddles them, then, to discover that after 10 years living this kind of life, they are unfulfilled, drained, and thoroughly dissatisfied.
Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow. ― Tony Schwartz
Human beings do not chase happiness, they chase comfort. They pick partners that re-create familiar relationships in their childhood. They choose jobs that they believe will earn them either a place in society, or the merit of being “safe” in some way. Most things that we do are with the intent of generating more comfort, and so it is counterintuitive at best to recognize that actually accomplishing something worthwhile requires enduring that which we have spent most of our lives trying to avoid.
You’re not supposed to know what the future holds. If you know where the path leads, it’s because you’re on somebody else’s.
Human beings crave certainty in the way they crave comfort – because life is an inherently uncomfortable and uncertain thing. But instead of trying to manufacture an abundance of those emotions, perhaps consider that life is uncertain for a reason. There are so many virtues of letting things be open-ended, in admitting that you don’t know what you don’t know. People often believe that when they’ve lost their “plan,” their knowing of what’s next that all has fallen apart. They look back often to realize that their lives were really just beginning… and in embracing what they didn’t know, they found a life that was greater than what they could have previously imagined.