July 14, 2011
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - The Art of Uncertainty
The Art of Uncertainty: How to Live in the Mystery of Life and Love It by Dennis Merritt Jones, Tarcher, 304 pages, $14.95, Paperback, June 2011, ISBN 9781585428724 “I don’t know.” That’s a phrase most of us try to avoid. It’s the answer we never want to give, in fear we’ll look ignorant, lazy, or unprepared. Yet often, it’s the answer that’s closest to the truth. This is the dilemma addressed in Dennis Merritt Jones’s new book, The Art of Uncertainty. As dreadful as this concept might sound, Jones uses the book and the stories in it to inspire us to embrace that uncertainty, and to see the unknown as exciting and full of opportunity. This might sound blindly optimistic, but consider his explanation:
The only thing we have control over is our choice to either react mindlessly or respond mindfully to “what is” in the current moment. There it is: To practice the art of uncertainty is to get comfortable with being “out of control.” By this, I don’t mean being out of control of our own actions and behavior, but rather letting go of the need to control the actions and behavior of other people, including their opinion of us.MBAs study prediction, and corporations employ risk management, yet the above quote rings true. For instance: If we invest money, will we get a return? If we hire this person, will they excel at the job? If we do anything at all, can we confidently know the outcome? Jones says we that can’t know the answers to these questions, yet still spend most of our time trying to answer them in some way. As Jones clearly explains, and as we all know, beating ourselves up over the outcomes we want to know not only can cause disappointment, but can blind us from discovering other opportunities and current understandings along the way. The idea here is not to “give up” and “hope for the best” in any situation, but to respond mindfully to the current moment. “The moment” is constant when we’re making decisions, thinking about possible actions, or making any plans at all. So, make the best decision you can in the moment, and don’t waste more time worrying about how right or wrong you might be. The current moment will change, and how you respond (or react) will shape what is to come. This is a fascinating and inspiring book about focusing on what is, instead of what we don’t and can never truly know.