Do You Know The Lie of “Comfortable with Ambiguity”?

Caterpillar using a hookah. An illustration fr...

Caterpillar using a hookah. An illustration from Alice in Wonderland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How many jobs have you had where the expectation was that you would be “comfortable with ambiguity“?  Be honest….is anyone really Comfortable with Ambiguity?! Or is this just the company’s way of stating the obvious: everything changes, so hang on?

I wrote a post last year about being in the moment and how each moment was nearly certain to be different from the moment expected. Certainly my life is in a very different place now, and yours may be too.  I’ll bet it is, since this world is anything but static.
It’s interesting that I haven’t seen that particular phrase used quite as frequently as before (say 5 to 7 years ago…). Has anything changed? Has the workplace become more aware, more mindful of the realities and discomforts of change, thanks to greater awareness? There continues to be a lot of discussion of mindfulness in the workplace…perhaps this has created the environment where change and ambiguity don’t need to be called out. They are accepted as the norm and natural.

Does this flow into the expectations around planning, forecasting and all of the other business exercises that try to see the future? Is there a corresponding growth in a further vision (beyond the month and the quarter…) that is enabled by this mindfulness of the moment? Read the Business sections of the newspapers and new sites; dig into Forbes, The Economist and the Wall Street Journal. Are companies casting their vision and growth plans with eyes on 1, 3, 5 and 10 year milestones, or are sales and marketing still having their feet held to the fire for monthly numbers? Are these mutually exclusive?

These are a lot of questions, to which you have answers based on your experiences and the companies for which you currently work (I’ll bet several of you are working for a different company now than you were when I wrote that post last year!). I’d like to have a conversation on the state of Real Mindfulness (not the kind delivered by a half-day seminar, but something personally practiced and culturally supported where you work…).

I’ll start….

Since starting my business about a year ago, I have found it easier, in some ways, to be mindfully aware more frequently every day. The challenge for me is two-fold:

  1. There are many more “moving parts” in running my own business than there were in any corporate position I ever held. Some activities are easy for me and working through them is effective. Others are much harder and require different kinds of thinking and focus than I have had to bring to bear in the past. The harder activities are actually the ones in which I find myself more mindful. The easy ones require a bit less intent, and intent helps me remain mindful. So, is the challenge to make the easier bits a more difficult so I can bring greater focus to bear? I haven’t found my path here yet.
  2. Exhaustion fogs the mind and awareness suffers. Due to some circumstances over which I have no control and a couple that I do, my daily schedule starts very early in the morning. This isn’t a problem by itself, but accumulates as the week goes on so that my effectiveness in the afternoons can wane later in the week. I’m working on “sleep hygiene” so that I get a good chunk of sleep each night, but it still seems that, although I know I need about 8 hours, I still only get 5 or maybe 6. Some weeks are better than others. I am working on various combinations of things I can do to enhance my rest during the week….eating earlier before going to bed, turning off the screens at least a half hour before retiring, and some others.
My personal assessment of mindfulness is I am more so now than a year ago. It feels very incremental, but that’s OK. I don’t expect a quantum leap.

I encourage you to share your experiences and challenges in growing your awareness and mindfulness in your work and life in the comments. Your shared “journey status” will help others and me, too.

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