I came across a post on Medium today by Chip Kidd, a designer, which was about the power of first impressions: Judge This: The Power of First Impressions. In the post, Lotto discusses the differences between mystery and clarity, the power behind each, and when one might want to focus on one over the other. This got me to thinking about mystery and clarity in change, where clarity equates to certainty and mystery to uncertainty.
In his post, Lotto used the example of an eye chart as a means of creating mystery. Although we recognize the letters, they don't spell any words, which is by design, in order to prevent us from guessing the next letters and minimizing the effectiveness of the chart. The eye chart example can also be helpful in demonstrating that a bunch of letters are meaningless without a purpose behind them, as it is purpose that creates clarity.
When we behave as Busy Bees, taking action for the sake of doing something but without reason or purpose behind those actions, we are like a group of unrelated letters. There is no discernible pattern to create a sense of direction. This is also known as chaos.
When we are Stuck In The Mud and cease all activity because we are waiting for something, anything, to pull us out of the muck, but are unable to take any action until that something comes along, it is like looking at the eye chart for the first time, only able to understand its purpose once it is explained to us by someone else. In the mean time, we are in stasis (lack of motion). We recognize the mystery, but we're so perplexed by it that we're unable to even know to look for clues.
Taking action without purpose behind it is not clarity, it's chaos. Doing nothing to uncover the clues within uncertainty is not mystery, it's stasis. Clarity is action with purpose, and mystery requires a sense of curiosity in order to gain clarity.
When faced with uncertainty during change, it is curiosity in uncovering the mystery that results in clarity in our actions. So when faced with uncertainty, rather than succumbing to the buzz of the Busy Bee or the murk when Stuck In The Mud, shift your thinking to one of curiosity.
But how can we invoke this sense of curiosity when feeling overwhelmed? Stay tuned for the next post for some tips and tools.
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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