Embrace Uncertainty: Jump Right In!Embrace Uncertainty: Jump Right In! https://www.visualstorytell.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/uncertainty-thumb.png 366 222 Shlomi Ron Shlomi Ron https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/906bcce31d9695cb030087534b5f0f6e?s=96&d=mm&r=g
- Shlomi Ron
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Yesterday I stopped by our local bakery to buy a country bread. Its rustic crust is irresistible.
During Covid’s bread baking craze I used to bake my own bread and quite enjoyed it. I don’t eat bread regularly, but occasionally I treat myself to a few pro loaves.
I placed the package in the backseat and drove toward a T intersection.
You know how it’s like when you need to turn right into a busy three-lane highway – in this case Miami’s I-95 – and in 100 yards turn left?
It looks impossible.
All you see is packed traffic on all three lanes and just the thought of even trying to squeeze in all the way to the left lane – seems crazy.
Some folks would give up and find a less busy road. Others would freeze and debate should they cross or not while blocking the intersection for others.
I waited until the right lane, the closest to me, was relatively free and pulled in.
Once on the highway, it was easier to capture opportunities to move to the middle and finally the left lane to make my turn.
In the words of Ken Roberts, sometimes you need to
“Take the first step, no more, no less, and the next will be revealed.”
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The short story I opened with is naturally an allegory for how entrepreneurs or executives make decisions under uncertainty.
I often get asked by people I network with “when you started your business, how soon until you got your first client?”
It’s a valid question, but it hides the real story.
Some people have incredible ideas they’re passionate about, but due to their circumstances, doubts, and the ambiguity involved in starting a new business – prefer to do nothing.
I’d preface and say, it’s not that I run a super successful unicorn with offices in 130 countries, mind you 🙂
It’s more about the perception from the outside of anybody who ventured out.
I of course don’t judge. Everybody has their own considerations and priorities.
If you look under the hood, you’ll find that every time we face a big decision with high stakes, insufficient information, where the immediate outcome is unclear – it’s really about the classic three-act story structure.
You have a certain life experience (setting), but now faced with a nagging problem that disrupts your routines (conflict), you think you might have the solution, but can’t be sure it’ll work or worse – if you’re personally up to the challenge (foggy resolution).
Decision making under uncertainty and risk
First off, it makes sense to define what is uncertainty.
Uncertainty refers to scenarios in which this information is barely available. Therefore, uncertain decision making is actually decision making without all the information about the potential risks.
The busy T intersection
You’ll find this “busy T intersection” when for example your boss tasked you with a big project you have never done before, debating if you should start your own consulting or startup, or learning a new skill?
The truth is, we find it hard to get out of our comfort zones, where all you see is a dense veil of fog. We like clear paths, and autopilot predictability.
Having said that, detailed planning is always a good idea to minimize ambiguity.
But it’s also true that even the best plans when meeting reality often need to change and you find yourself “learning on the go.”
In essence, you’re chopping down a massive challenge into smaller much manageable pieces.
Pretty much like joining a busy highway traffic.
That failure thing
Another important aspect related to the story people tell themselves while facing a big challenge, is the fear of failing.
You don’t have to make a life-changing decision; you could start small with a low-stakes, yet unfamiliar project you’re already planning to do.
Earlier this week, I forced myself to learn how to run a LinkedIn ad campaign with the extra twist of tracking conversions from Eventbrite.
You’d think how complicated that could be. It’s something I did eons ago but platforms evolve.
Sure, I could have a freelancer do it for me.
Personally with all the AI tidal wave that aims to free up our neurons from making any mental effort, these days I try to keep mine working 🙂
So, despite, in my opinion, LI’s poor usability I trudged on. After a series of chats with support reps I was able to finally launch it!
It sure felt good.
Over to you!
So next time you’re faced with a giant challenge ask yourself “What’s the worst that could happen?” How can you chop this monster challenge into small pieces and learn as you go?
If you do all that, typically that’s where your personal growth will come from.
Feel free to share your experiences and perspectives.
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Shlomi Ron is the founder and CEO of the Visual Storytelling Institute, a Miami-based think tank with a mission to bring the gospel of visual storytelling from the world of art to more human-centric and purpose-driven marketing. A digital marketing veteran with over 20 years of experience working both on the agency and brand sides for Fortune 100/500 brands such as Nokia, IBM, and American Express. He started VSI to combine his marketing expertise with his passion for visual stories stemming from his interests in classic Italian cinema and managing the estate of video art pioneer, Buky Schwartz. At VSI, he helps brands rise above the communication noise through visual storytelling consulting, training, and thought leadership. Select clients include Estée Lauder, Microsoft, and Cable & Wireless – to name a few. He currently teaches Brand Storytelling at the University of Miami’s Business School. Thought leader and speaker at key marketing conferences. He is also the host of the Visual Storytelling Today podcast, which ranks in the top 10 best business storytelling podcasts on the Web. His book: Total Acuity: Tales with Marketing Morals to Help You Create Richer Visual Brand Stories. Outside work, he is a nascent bread baker, The Moth fan, and longtime fedora wearer likely to jive with his classic Italian cinema interest.All stories by: Shlomi Ron
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