Embrace Uncertainty

In Schrödinger’s famous torture chamber, thought experiment he puts a cat in a box whose life hangs in the balance of a single radioactive isotope which might, or might not kill the cat. The idea being that the cat is both alive & dead until the situation is observed from the outside, thereby resolving the two possibilities into a single certainty.

Life

Uncertainty is uncomfortable. Answers feel so much better than questions.

(Want proof? Watch any child and see how excited they get when they recognize a character they like on TV.)

We all need certainty in our lives. For example, we need to know that the ground we’re walking on won’t collapse under us.

But there needs to be balance.

If you’re solely focused on certainty, you’ll tend to stay too far in your safe zone.

“Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.” ~Folk wisdom using scare tactics to advocate for the status quo

If you have to know beyond a shadow of a doubt what’s going to happen when you do it, then you’re probably not going to get outside your current frame of reference. Guess where all your growth happens, though; stepping outside your comfort zone!

In my own life, I’ve missed out on more opportunities than not because I was more interested in what something is than what it could be.

Of all my superhuman talents, I’d have to say building an extremely high tolerance for uncertainty is one of my most valuable.

Here’s why.

Context

Every time I’ve worked on a TV project, there’s a ton of uncertainty.

What do the producers want to see? How many people will be in the audience? Will I be able to set my own props? Am I supposed to look at the camera during filming? Will I get paid? When will I get paid? When will it air? Will it air at all?

It can be exhausting never getting a firm answer to any of these questions.

But I know the answer I don’t want.

“Thanks for your time, but we’re going in another direction.”

That answer is certain. It’s definitive.

There’s no going back.

The more comfortable you are with the extremely uncomfortable dynamic of not knowing the answers, the farther into the process you’ll get. You’ll learn a lot more from the experience of enduring the situation than you will trying to nail down exactly what it all means.

Takeaway

Embrace uncertainty.

Let a couple unanswered questions into your life, and you’ll instantly increase the number of opportunities you have available to you.

Work Life Balance

Work/Life Balance is a Scam.

Seems like most people hate their job. Seems like most people hate their life.

And it seems like they’re trying to find happiness by finding a balance point between the two. In this way of thinking, however, this hypothetical person is constantly stuck between two weights that are pulling them in opposite directions. The more time they spend on one side, the higher up the other side goes (and looks more unattainable). This means they have to rush back over to the other side which only serves to make the up & down cycle go faster and faster with higher highs & lower lows.

That’s why it feels like you can have a happy family, a good job, but not both. There is no balance. It’s an either/or question with this mindset.

That’s why I say Work/Life Balance is a scam. It’s an idea that is overly simplistic, and keeps you running from one obligation to another without being able to really settle into what really makes you happy. You’re forever torn between two opposites.

There’s a way out.

Allow me to introduce Buckminster Fuller, striking a classic Mind Reader pose.

buckminster-fuller-portraitHe was a genius who was way ahead of his time. One of his most recognizable contributions to society is the “golf ball” at Epcot.

tensegrityWhile it might seem a big claim that a Disney attraction is a major contribution to humanity, it’s actually a lot bigger than that. The hidden genius of the golf ball is the secret of geodesic domes. How in the world do such light structures cover such great distances without collapsing?

Fuller gave this question quite a bit of thought and came up with a novel word for the answer:

Tensegrity: the characteristic property of a stable three-dimensional structure consisting of members under tension that are contiguous and members under compression that are not.

Tension + Integrity

Think about your body. There’s the fundamental skeletal structure. If we were only bones that were rigidly connected, we wouldn’t be able to move. If we were only muscles, we’d be a big blob of quivering jello on the floor.

Only through the connection of the rigid bone with the flexible & strong muscles can we run, jump, do cartwheels, etc. These are astonishingly complex movements performed by a body that is held together through the interplay of dynamic tension.

This is a roundabout way of saying you cannot have integrity without tension.

Think of any partner dance. Each partner relies on the counterbalance of the other to maintain the ability to continue the experience.

The dance is a dynamic expression of tensegrity through the interplay of two smaller systems made possible through tensegrity. Mind. Blown.

But what does this have to do with work & life?

Well, everything.

Our lives are not a static either/or see-saw with life on one side and work on the other. Our lives are more like a dance of obligations, desires, hopes, and dreams, and the only way it continues is through the tension and connection between the two. They are not opposites. They are not separate. They are intimately connected and only through that connection can you enjoy either.

So stop trying to run from one, or the other. You can’t ignore your home life and spend all your time at the office. Nor can you stay home all day and never create anything.

Balance is an illusion. Balance is the imaginary point between two opposing forces.

Integrity, happiness, and all of life is an intricate network of tension, flexibility, hard, soft, and all opposites you can imagine.

It’s a dance of dances as far down as you want to go.

So stop worrying about balancing your life, and embrace the dynamic tension between the two. Only then can you run, jump, and play in the sunlight.