This blog begins a series to distinguish specific items that can support cultivating wisdom. Each item inquires into a specific “tension” or idea. In this case, the tension between Certainty and Clarity. The confusion and tension between certainty and clarity can cause a great of suffering and with practice can cultivate wisdom.
Meet the “U” in VUCA
Most of us in the learning and development profession have become familiar with the acronym VUCA—Volatile, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity—during the last two decades.
Each of these terms represents a phenomenon that affects the human condition and influences our view of reality.
Volatility and complexity tend to measure externalities that experience the pace or scope of change. Uncertainty and ambiguity often describe internal conditions or experiences that define our observations and perceptions of change.
We will discover that our relationship to clarity is bound up in our understanding of certainty and uncertainty.
Certainty v. Clarity
Let’s begin by distinguishing these two terms.
Certainty is an emotional state. It is informed by fear that offers a sense of safety and security in a predictable outcome. We grow to expect a specific outcome to hold fear in abeyance.
- Certainty is grinding on the last 10% of a decision to get all possible information, at the expense of time and possibly market advantage.
- Certainty rests on how and what. It requires that we know the outcome and that we’ve figured out how any choice will impact the outcome before taking any action.
- By its name, certainty is designed to avoid “uncertainty.”
Clarity is a state of mind. It is the result of an inquiry that clears the mind. It allows us to know the next step without having to know every aspect of the outcome.
- Clarity occurs when you have enough information to make an informed, optimal decision. Then you make that decision.
- Clarity rests on a grounded sense of why. It gets you out of bed with a sense of deep commitment before you know whether customers are lining up to purchase your services. Here, purpose is key.
- Clarity is design to be with “uncertainty.”