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17 November 2008

Uncertainty ...

"The true test of character is not how much we know how to do, but how we behave when we don't know what to do." - John Holt

How do we decide what to do during times or moments of uncertainty?  It is not often that we actually consider this.  Usually we await the circumstance arising and then act instinctively, reflexively, opportunistically.


There is some interesting research about how people behave in disasters (see The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why by Amanda Ripley).  An important thing to understand is the role of rehearsal and familiarity in survival in disaster situations.

Very few of us are genuinely comfortable with uncertainty.  This means that uncertainty makes us feel uncomfortable or stressed.  Generally it also means we revert to comfortable and practised behaviours.  Thus negative behaviours like micromanagement or bullying can come out as we seek to control the situation.

The question is how can we be ready to deal with uncertainty in a positive way?  An important question in these days of financial uncertainty.  The first thing to have is a plan. Work out what information you need to make a decision and identify a decision making process you can use.

The second thing is work out if you are willing to ask for help. Where do you draw the boundary between self help and help from others?

The third thing is to know what resources are available to you - including both tangible and intangible resources.  Moral support from a friend is very helpful, as is knowing you can borrow money from the bank.  Both are probably better to have sorted out before a crisis occurs.

By Carruthers via Aide-mémoire

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