Every one of us lives with uncertainty.  Some of it is self-induced, while other uncertainties come from elsewhere. COVID-19 is a wildly clear example of that. 

It is an extreme version of uncertainty that has turned many of our lives upside down in a myriad of ways and in a very short period of time. With the significant interdependence among peoples and businesses around the world, such events are only likely to increase. 

Learning to live with these kinds of uncertainties is going to be increasingly important to our happiness.  

How can we learn to live with uncertainty?

The first way to deal with it is to simply acknowledge that uncertainty is and always will be a part of our lives, sometimes more and sometimes less, but always present and always somewhat unpredictable

A second important way of living with uncertainty is by simplifying our lives around what is really key to our values and objectives. The less we have in things, objectives, plans, etc., the less we can be subject to unpredictable changes around us that can affect those things.  This doesn’t mean to be passive and stop trying to achieve, but it means to focus on what is really important to have and to achieve.  By doing this, we can increase the amount of control of the things we are subject to.  We can control how we use our time, what we want to prioritize, and who we develop relationships with.

We must learn to accept uncertainty as a permanent part of our life, and we must simplify our lives. Doing so can increase our control over the things really important to us and lessen the unpredictabilities. By doing these two things alone, we can increase our chances to be at ease in a sea of changes.

How can an assessment help better understand how to handle uncertainty?

In reality, every single one of the dimensions of the Intercultural Effective Scale (IES) and Global Competencies Inventory (GCI) help us deal with uncertainty.  Some are more directly related than others, though.

With the GCI, Tolerance of Ambiguity assesses directly how much uncertainty we seem capable of managing, but Inquisitiveness is also a key element. The more we learn, the more we understand and can accept or attempt to manage better. Interpersonal Engagement is helpful in learning as well. The more comfortable we are in approaching people and asking information, the more we can learn about the causes of the uncertainty and/or what we need to do to manage it. Of course, Self-Awareness helps us to know ourselves and understand where we need to improve to be able to manage our life. 

Virtually the entire set of dimensions around Self Management–Self-Confidence, Self-Identity, Emotional Resilience, and so on are reflections of how much we will be susceptible to the stress that comes with uncertainty and how well we will be able to manage the accompanying emotions.

The equivalent dimensions on the IES act the same. Exploration and Self-Awareness in the Continuous Learning component and Open-Mindedness and Resilience are important dimensions that measure how well we are going to be able to accept and manage ambiguity.  

What ways can you help others maneuver or lead others through uncertainty with you?

Probably the most important element in being able to help others is to first make sure you are managing the uncertainty well yourself. Without that, there is little hope you will be able to help others.

Understanding their strengths and weaknesses to manage uncertainty is very helpful. What is their natural tendency to tolerate ambiguity? Where others are weak, help them take steps to increase their strength in those areas. Using the Kozai Group’s Personal Development Plan (PDP), for example, will put them on the path to improvement and develop their muscles to address the uncertainty in their lives.

Second, coach them through the process of accepting uncertainty as a permanent part of life. Help them to focus on the key elements of their lives and eliminate other nonessential elements.  

We all have differing abilities to manage the actual uncertainties and the associated stress that comes with it. The GCI and IES help us to understand what those abilities are. Where we are weak and we can apply a process to strengthen ourselves (e.g, the PDP).  

By simplifying our lives, the more energy we will have available to focus on what’s important to us, the more we will be able to control or manage those things. Learn to accept that uncertainty will always be a part of your life, increase your ability to manage it, and create a life structure around the things you care most about and that you can control the easiest.

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