Posted: 22 Mar 2013 12:57 PM PDT
By Leo Babauta
Lots of people who start businesses try to control outcomes:
Unfortunately, the ability to control outcomes is an illusion. This is one of the fundamental lessons I’ve learned in my six years of being in business for myself.
You don’t really know how things will turn out.
And this is OK.
In fact, it’s pretty awesome.
Yes, not knowing how things will turn out — day to day, month to month, year to year — is crazy scary. I’m not gonna front. It’s so scary you might wake up drenched in sweat.
But not knowing is what makes being an entrepreneur more amazing than working a regular desk job with a regular paycheck. We take risks, we fail, we don’t know what’s going to happen, we not only put our toes into the waters of the unknown … we dive in, headfirst.
Yes, not knowing is scary. But if you embrace it, not knowing can be liberating, and can be an advantage.
Let’s look at how it’s an advantage, and how to stay present in the middle of the unknown.
The Advantage of Not Knowing
Quiz question: What causes us the most anxiety? Wanting things to turn out a certain way. Wanting an outcome — wanting the person you love to love you back, wanting people at your meeting or presentation to like you, wanting a million customers, wanting to be the next Apple or Twitter or Starbucks. This is the cause of our anxiety, because when we want that outcome, we fear that it won’t come true, and we strive for it to come true, and of course it might not.
There are a million possibilities, and wanting just one of those possibilities is a little crazy. What’s wrong with the other 999,999? Will our worlds fall apart if that one outcome doesn’t become a reality? No. We’ll be just fine no matter what.
Seriously. You’ll be absolutely fine even if the outcome doesn’t happen.
So when anxiety comes up, if we learn to let go of needing that outcome, we can then let go of the anxiety.
So advantage #1: we have less anxiety. What happens when you have less anxiety? Well, you’re happier. You are happier when you meet with customers or clients or employees? They feel your happiness. They sense that you’re cool with how things are going. You are less desperate. You don’t need things to turn out a certain way — you don’t need this one sale. You do your best to make it happen, but you’re cool even if it doesn’t.
Other people bet everything on making their outcome happen — but what if it doesn’t? Then they’ve lost everything, with no clear direction of where to go when it fails to happen.
So advantage #2: we aren’t as tied to one bet. That’s a single point of failure. Not a great idea. Instead, we are OK no matter what happens, and so any outcome of a meeting, a project, a launch … we are good with that, and no outcome really messes us up. We flow.
Another problem is that people who think they know how things will turn out … they’re fooling themselves. No one knows.
And that’s advantage #3: we are more honest. Admitting to ourselves that we don’t know is much more honest than thinking, hoping, things will turn out the way we want. Honesty is important because if we’re going to act, we should do so with open eyes and a clear assessment of the situation.
Honesty with customers, readers, clients, employees is important too. Admit you don’t know. They will trust you more, because not only are you telling them you don’t know, you are clearly OK with that. You don’t know what will happen, but whatever happens, you’ll deal with it. That’s powerful.
Those are just a few advantages, but actually the advantages are many. You don’t have to plan as much because not knowing means you realize that detailed plans are useless, and actually a waste of your time. You spend less time worrying, more time executing. You aren’t consumed by the horrible fear that you’re doing the wrong thing, because you learn that there is never a perfectly “right thing” to do — not generally for your business, or specifically right now.
How to Walk the Not Knowing Path
The Not Knowing Path of an entrepreneur is scary, but honestly, what path isn’t?
Here’s how to walk the path:
|You are subscribed to email updates from zenhabits |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google Inc., 20 West Kinzie, Chicago IL USA 60610|