“Uncertainty is the price of beauty, and integrity the only compass for the territory of uncertainty that constitutes the landmass of any given life. ~ Carl Jung
A client once asked me, half-kidding, if we were going to do trust falls at their upcoming retreat. (Trust falls are an active team-building activity where you literally fall back and your team members catch you.)
I replied, laughing, no that’s not the kind of trust-building I do, and frankly, that type of trust fall gives me whiplash! Also, it takes more than one big plunge to build trust with one another – it takes a daily commitment to acts of inclusion.
Physical trust falls are an experiential metaphor for what it’s like to lean on our team. In this time of seismic personal and professional shifts, a figurative trust fall might just be the metaphor to support us in the New Year ahead.
Not Knowing is the First Step
Poet Wendell Barry writes:
It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. ~ Wendell Barry
So many of us don’t know what to do now. We may be hiding our uncertainty, but honestly, I don’t know anyone who is not in transition, even in the most fruitful professional or vocational work.
When We Languish
This state of not knowing is so contrary to our Western way. And it’s a place where we can hold great possibilities or one that can lead to chronic, low-grade depression.
Organizational psychologist, Adam Grant, calls it the place of Languishing.
It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.
Nebulous. Cloudy. Wobbly. Wiggly. No one said this in-between place would be comfortable. However, it is not our unpleasant, uncomfortable feelings that get us stuck. It’s when we compartmentalize and refuse to acknowledge the full range of feelings inherent in growth. Because the more we deny our feelings the more convoluted our logic becomes. (Take a moment to let this sink in. I think you will find it to be true.)
So how do we hold all this at once? Yes, and… Yes, I am uncomfortable, unsure, AND there has to be sometime more. Every unpleasant emotion provides important data. If I’m frustrated, what more might this be telling me about what I’d actually like in my life? For me, I call it Lead with Your Longing. What’s required of us now more than ever is emotional connectivity – to listen to the longing, the ache, the sense of something still unformed, but something more.
The Best Decisions Defy Logic
I don’t know about you, but my best decisions have always initially defied my logic. Too much money for graduate school. Too little money for the work after graduate school. Too much risk. Not enough research. Impractical. I’m too old. I’m too young. I’m not qualified. There isn’t enough data. What do the gremlins in your mind repeat incessantly?
I find it helpful to tell the gremlins I hear them. I thank them for their concern and advice and then reassure them that I’ll check back in after I’ve done some deeper discovery work.
Because in order to succeed, we need to be willing to fail. *And in fact, ultimately, even failure isn’t a loss. It’s more information on the path to fulfillment.)
Leap and the Net Will Appear
As you reflect upon this past year and notice your yearning for the New Year, I wish you, Yes, and…
I wish that you go to the places where you feel uncomfortable, uncertain, unsure. I believe this is where your potential and fulfillment await.
May you sink into the possibilities instead of thinking your way through. May you know and feel the safety net of love and support around you. May your belief be bigger than your doubt. And while your trust falls will probably require an oxygen mask at first, I’m a firm believer of a framed quote on my office shelf: Leap and the net will appear.
I believe in you.