Dealing with uncertainty - fast and slow
Uncertainty can bring about some interesting behaviors. Some of us, feeling a loss of control, endeavor to keep ourselves busy by doing something, anything, to occupy our time and minds, while others feel such a sense of overwhelm by the many possibilities of what could happen, that a sense of paralysis results.
Patricia's vicious cycle
A good friend of mine, Patricia, is self-employed, and has a pattern of the Busy Bee. Whenever money issues emerge, her first reaction is to update her resume and look for a full-time job, a process that takes a fair amount of time away from her entrepreneurial duties. When she has been invited to interviews, however, she always declines, because she doesn’t really want to stop what she is doing in favor of working in a more traditional job. But the act of updating her resume and searching and applying for jobs helps to distract her from the uncertainty presented by her money issues, and it has become her default when such situations arise as a result.
Alternatively, when Patricia’s partner indicated he might apply for a job relocation to Argentina, which would require a move for the whole family, the uncertainty surrounding the ‘what if’s’, completely immobilized Patricia. Aside from her day-to-day obligations, she was unable to engage in any activities that required forward-thinking, planning, business development and so on, because she didn’t have a clear sense of the future. This resulted in a stagnating business, which then led to money issues that provoked her Busy Bee pattern. Fortunately, this vicious cycle didn’t last, as Patricia and her partner decided against the relocation option for the time being.
The Busy Bees do, do and do. While much of this activity may relate in some way to the uncertainty in question, this isn’t always the case. The most important thing to those of us who are busy buzzing around is to fill the space with activity, because doing something is much more comfortable than the feelings of helplessness and inaction that uncertainty creates.
Those of us who are Stuck In The Mud, on the other hand, are so overwhelmed by the possibilities, or deflated by a lack of momentum, that we are unable to take ANY action, even if we might want to.
Both the Busy Bee and Stuck In The Mud characteristics result in lost opportunity. For the Busy Bees, it’s lost opportunity as a result of diluting our focus. We try so hard to do whatever we can to bring about certainty, that our priorities become blurred, because everything seems important if there is an action attached to it. For those of us who are Stuck In The Mud, there is lost opportunity because there is no forward progression on anything, including those things that are most important to us. Each of these two characteristics also have something to teach the other. The benefits of the Busy Bees is that they take action, and the benefits of those Stuck In The Mud is that they slow down enough to listen.
The good, the bad and the mud dauber
When faced with uncertainty and feel the urge of action or inaction sinking in, consider the Mud Dauber. Mud Dauber’s aren’t bees, but are wasps who build their nests with mud. They leverage the value of mud as a tool, just as they use flight as a tool; neither action nor inaction defines them.
Which are you? A Busy Bee or someone who’s Stuck In The Mud? How does this show up for you when faced with uncertainty in change? Post a comment and get the conversation rolling!
What's your story?
In terms of people, being intentional about listening is an important tool for Busy Bees to incorporate, just as taking intentional action, even when we don’t feel like it, is an important tool for those Stuck In The Mud. Tools offer a choice, and having choice amidst uncertainty gives us a greater sense of control. Choosing to use these tools is easier said than done, but keeping in mind that it is often easier to use tools that help us to balance, than it is to try to change our default approach, may make the choice easier to make and the tools easier to use.
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
**Please note RSS Feed not compatible with Chrome without an extension.