I write this with no audience in mind, no objective other than sharing my musing with those who might resonate with these thoughts. As a career-long entrepreneur, I’ve become adept at surviving and enduring ambiguity. I’ve found a space where I’m content in the seeming discomfort of not-knowing. Residing in this place is undesirable and a hindrance to growth.
I recall listening to a Radiolabs podcast where they shared the story of Supreme Court Justice Charles Whittaker. Whittaker struggled for years wrestling with a verdict on the “Baker v. Carr” redistricting case in 1962. The story is worth listening to, but in short, Whittaker ended up weighing both sides so heavily that he ended up in the hospital and then resigned from the Supreme Court.
Now at the ripening age of 40, I have the distance to look back on the arch of my life and witness my flaws, weaknesses, and strengths with increasing clarity. I find that like Whittaker I am often stuck in ambiguity, seeing the merits of all sides, frozen in inaction. The years tick on and often the clarity never comes.
Compare that perspective with those who are decisive. Decisive leaders have a clear vision and position which allows them to make a judgment on issues, move forward and take action. These same leaders often lack the ability to truly place themselves in the shoes of others, to see the counter perspective. I am left wrestling with the notion of how to cultivate both types of leadership and perspectives, to add these learnings to the tool chest of self-growth and leadership.
Back to my original point, ambiguity isn’t a place where one can thrive. It’s a survival state of mind. It’s enduring the present and buying more time in the hopes of finding clarity.
I stayed in a marriage too long because I hoped either myself or my spouse would find a way to overcome our differences. I stayed in business too long because I hoped I’d find the skills needed to move us out of stagnation, or my business partners would rise to the occasion. I’ve held off on making big purchases because I thought there would be a better time.
Looking back at all of these things it’s now clear to me that I “knew” what to do all along, but I believe my ambiguity (or something else) kept me from taking the decisive action to move forward at a greater clip. With all of that, I now wonder how the next 40 yrs of my life will be different. What new tricks can this old dog learn?