Towards safer uncertainty


Published on April 6, 2020

Keep reading if you want to build resilience and feel more comfortable navigating:

  • Uncertainty

  • Change

  • Impermanence

  • A lack of control

  • The unknown

Firstly, I am on the journey too, and I don’t have all the answers. I do have some tried and tested tools to enable you to focus, and find clarity.

This is a conversation and I invite you to contribute.

To be clear, the material I am sharing with you is formed from knowledge I’ve gained from years of study and working with brilliant people in the field of leadership. Anything original will be in what I bring together, how I connect it, and the practical application of it.

My purpose is to help leaders navigate what’s going on around us. It won’t be academically bulletproof (or even close) - I am interested in what works and how it can be applied.

Let’s lay the foundations

I came across the notion of Safer Uncertainty a few years ago via Sue Holland (of Laughing Phoenix consulting). She shared an article entitled ‘Moving Toward Safer Uncertainty’ by Jeremy Keeley which I found both useful and something of a container for a lot of my own learning. Thanks both.

The following is my simplified version of Jeremy’s article with a few additions and modifications consistent with my experiences as an executive coach.

The Premise

We often confuse safety with certainty. We can assume they are the same thing.

When we assume they are the same thing, we move towards safe certainty. This is an unrealistic space in which we find ourselves defending, denying and controlling to maintain our safety. As we become aware of our flawed approach, we begin to distinguish more clearly between that which genuinely keeps us safe and our drive for certainty. This allows us to move toward safe uncertainty, a space of possibility, exploration and learning. This is a more realistic space, albeit often uncomfortable.

This diagram might help...

How comfortable are you with these principles of safer uncertainty?

Keeping it real. Recognising that if your sense of safety is dependent on being certain, you are playing a losing game.

Getting comfortable with insecurity. Accepting that control is an illusion (you are not ultimately in control), and that surrendering to the need for control is an important breakthrough in personal development.

Managing mindset. Recognising that your attitude to uncertainty could lead to creativity and possibility, or to fear and paralysis. Your mindset determines which.

Understanding suffering. As the Buddhists describe it, suffering is the difference between how we think life should be and how it actually is. It is our attachment to our expectations that cause us to suffer.

Staying present. There is a release and relief in opening up to life and its teachings which allows us to be more vital and alive.

Towards Safer Uncertainty is an ongoing journey rather than a destination. The travel is not linear just like your life. We probably never ‘get there’ and if we do it’s temporary.

Towards Safer Uncertainty is about helping you to:

  1. Connect to your purpose or core - that which is fundamental and unwavering in you no matter what is going on around you.

  2. See life and its challenges as a key source of learning rather than as problems.

  3. Understand the difference between your genuine need for safety, and your false need for certainty.

  4. Shifting your approach to a dance with possibility and emergence.

I will be offering tools and resources to help - ways in which you can:

Be curiously awake: Noticing your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and importantly what you are attached to.

Consciously create safety: Connecting with where you are genuinely safe and how you can build safety across your physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual life.

Embrace uncertainty: Actively, deliberately, curiously and joyfully embrace uncertainty.

Let life be life: Living in the present and accepting life’s occurrences as gifts. An openness to what you can learn about yourself, others and the world around you - with gratitude.

Connect to the wider system: Operating with a wider purpose and longer-term view.

With a grasp of the concept of Towards Safer Uncertainty I will move on to expanding the concept and bringing some practices and approaches. You’re invited to join the journey.

Contact me directly, or connect with me on LinkedIn

#TowardsSaferUncertainty

Back to Blog

Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash