Embracing your uncertainty

I’ve been watching all the old episodes of TV’s ‘The Apprentice’ – both the US and the UK versions. Watching each episode back-to-back is a different experience than watching it once a week. Apart from driving me mad, the overall impression is about how consistently good the majority of candidates are at certain tasks and how consistently appallingly poor they are at others.

Here’s what they are good at: hard sales, taking action and confidence

Here’s what they are bad at: generating new ideas, presenting, expressing ideas, getting along with and motivating people and seeing the big picture.

It’s interesting that what they’re good at falls into competencies traditionally categorised as ‘left-brain’ controlled tasks and what they are bad at are all right-brain dominated tasks.

Both Donald Trump and Sir Alan Sugar repeatedly make it clear that they’re not looking for another sales person. They’re looking for creativity and leadership. Yet so few people with these skills apply to be on the show (or get chosen to appear on the show).

The reason is perhaps simple, but interestingly not often discussed. Left-brain thinking has a unique characteristic that is not often included in those lists of ‘left’ and ‘right’ brain specialities. Left-brain thinking has confidence and certainty, often even when such confidence is unsupported by evidence. To even apply to be on the TV show you would need to have an unusual level of self-confidence. To actually survive the process and complete the tasks you would need to be able to develop a level of certainty that could drive you through it all. These are strong left-brain attributes.

Right-brain thinking on the other hand, is doubtful and uncertain of it’s own abilities. This is why left-brain thinking always dominates. This is the necessary downside of right-brain possibility thinking, to be able to see the world i flux and as a field of probabilities and uncertainties. It’s this kind of thinking that generates ideas in the first place. It’s this thinking that controls the creative process. It comes at a price, that of self doubt.

This is why so many artists, writers, musicians and performers all at some stage of their careers have periods of massive self-doubt and uncertainty about their abilities. It’s interesting that these are exactly the sort of people that Trump and Sugar need (in fact that ALL businesses need) but these are the sort of people who would never apply to take part is such a process.

What sort of processes do you have to attract and keep these type of people, the creative types who will transform your business?

What sort of processes do you have to nurture your own confidence in your creativity?

Once we become aware that this is how the brain works we can use it to short circuit the duality and use the left-brain certainty and confidence to back up our emotional and artistic sensibilities of our right-brains to empower us instead of undermine ourselves.

Embrace your uncertainty and realise it means you’re onto something. Look at your past successes to help realise you can be more creative, you can use your talents and you can push forward with bigger and better ideas and a more productive life.

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7 comments on “Embracing your uncertainty

  1. Ayd, I’d never realised that left-brainers tend to be more confident and certain of their conclusions. That explains a lot.

    That’s why so many consultants are left-brainers. Their clients are usually looking for reassurance, and value confidence over creativity.

    We right-brainers aren’t locked out of the game, though. If we’re talking about what we’re passionate about, our passion can be as compelling as certainty.


  2. It’s not really that difficult. Creative peopke need only a few things:
    1. Creative freedom
    2. Enough compensation that they can ignore money bs
    3. Positive feedback & the chance for their creations to fly out into the world
    4. A manager who understands that creativity isn’t something scheduled and the path to creation isn’t linear.
    5. As a result the creative may need highly flexible schedule
    6. Creativity doesn’t happen in the office or even studio. It happens in the shower, on the toilet, at the park, etc. therefor more presence in the office or studio shouldn’t be used as a measure of dedication or hard work, but rather a sign of potentially stifled creativity.

    I could go on, but that’s the gist of it.


  3. Most enlightening. I find my creativity crushed at work. For the last six years of my life (working at this new place of work) I have begun to doubt myself more and more. No matter how creative I try to be, I am left frustrated and disappointed. This is the main reason I am pursuing my lifelong dream of turning away from engineering and becoming a professional writer. Like everything, it comes at a price. There is no guarantee of steady income…


  4. I think that often in the workplace, if someone (e.g. management) can’t see a clear, defined outcome, they’re not willing to go down the path (even when the path with the defined outcome is the same old boring path that leads to the same old boring outcome). Organizations need to encourage a mindset where ‘not knowing’ is okay, so creatives can run with their ideas. I once had a team member who was so far out there that I would just shake my head, then say, “go for it.” He’d mess things up sometimes, but part of embracing uncertainty is understanding that course correction will be required along the way.


  5. There might also be another reason creatives aren’t getting involved. A lot of times the creative path does the follow a typical business course. I’m a writer. While I can do non-fiction (and do some at work), it’s not really creative for me. Fiction though — that’s where I let loose. But it’s also largely incompatible with typical businesses.

    But there’s another piece: When I was in the army, they were very focused on making rank. So much so that if you stayed the same rank for too long or didn’t make progression fast enough, they’d kick you out. Yet, as a lower enlisted, I watched my sergeants work long, long hours. Time’s got to come from somewhere, and I didn’t want it to come from my writing. So, for me, it’s been a conscious decision not to seek things that would suck time away from the writing.

    Linda Adams – Soldier, Storyteller http://garridon.wordpress.com/


  6. Pingback: Weekend Links for 7/12/13 | Big Girl Life

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