Episode 93. “Uncertainty kills business”. – Michael Edwardes.
Brought to you by the universal law of nature number 2. Evolution. You are never given a problem you cannot solve.Chris Walker.
A few years back I ran a seminar for a company who asked me to remove the word certainty from the list of how to be in a good state of mind. The reason they asked me to remove it was because there is a lot of confusion between the word certainty, and clarity.
And there is. But, clarity simply helps define what the real problems are. While certainty provides the solutions to those problems. 99% of the solutions to problems is found when we ask the right question. In other words, when we know what the problem is the solution comes quite automatically.
And so, clarity is supreme. Clarity puts order in the chaos. Clarity is therefore the magic superpower of a leader. The person with the greatest clarity solves the most problems fastest. Clarity is such a gift in life and what causes the loss of it is an untold amount of doubt and uncertainty. And therefore doubt and uncertainty become enemies of clarity which is very important to us all especially in business.
So now I would like to break down three words and find the route to each of them in business. Clarity, certainty, and doubt.
If you are playing a game of chess and you don’t know the rules of the game what chance would you have of having clarity. You will be automatically filled with doubt because you don’t know the rules of the game. And so the first thing you do when you’re going to play a game with somebody is that you ask them the rules. Very often in the Himalayas people spend a lot of time playing cards and there are so many games that the local people play but it’s hard to play until you can watch the game for awhile and work out the rules. If you start playing a card game with the wrong rules you’ll end up losing. Not only that, but people will not enjoy playing with you and you will not enjoy the game because you spend the entire time in doubt, confused.
So we can say that enjoying life and enjoying playing the game of life, especially the game called business requires that you understand the rules of the game. Now there are many varieties of the rules of the game because there are many varieties of people and mini varieties of situations that require what most people think are different rules. But, as you attend business school you suddenly realise that there are not so many rules of the game and that all games in business come down to some basic principles one of which is called Supply and demand curve. Many people forget the basic rules of the game as they run their business life and they think it’s got something to do with the colour of the logo of the business. So finding the rules of the game is a really important part of business and therefore clarity, the ability to understand the right questions to ask and therefore find solutions is really key to good business leadership. Now we are going to introduce the big variable.
The human factor. Now in all business there are people. There are people who buy the product, make the product, deliver the product and consume the product. All of these people apparently play by different rules of the game. Some people come to work to work for the company but the rules of their game are very different for them than for somebody else. They bring a whole different card game to the table and start playing their card game with their rules while everybody else is playing another game and therefore nobody enjoys the game.
With the human factor in business we introduced the word, doubt. Doubt arrives because there can be no certainty as to what a human being is going to do tomorrow, or so we think. If you add up the self-help industry which is, and $1 trillion business in the world, you will find very little agreement on what makes people tick. There are untold numbers of religious beliefs, cultures, socio economic states of living, education, expectation, and therefore the variables at first appear infinite. If you were to read every single book on self-help and human development in the world you would still be no wiser. Very few of them agree, some, stick to the teachings of somebody who is no longer here and have four have license to project what might have been said by the Buddha thousands of years ago. But they really really really have no idea.
And so the world searches for an understanding of what makes a human being tick so that they can manage people without doubt. We also seek to find that information so that we can manage ourselves without doubt. Doubt is a killer. We know that doubt and many of the mental and emotional illnesses we in our world are suffering at present are one in the same. As a great example, we are currently experiencing a phase in the human development race that loves to diagnose people with illnesses of the mind. For example we would love to call somebody ADD, or depressed, or one of the other thousands of labels we put in order to explain and overcome doubt about parenting and education of people who are on some sort of spectrum. This is the current fashion but it will not explain everything and it does not give solution. It is a process that we have developed in order to create compassion, but compassion is not a solution. Compassion is far greater than isolation which was the previous phase of human development. Integration of diversity is so important for the health of humanity but, we still need to understand that people have special needs and having clarity on those needs reduces doubt. But it is not a solution.
Aeroplanes fly because the pressure under the wing and the pressure over the wing are different. We understand the science of flight even to the point where we can fly to the moon, Mars and now under the sea. We understand telecommunications to the point where somebody can hack the database of somebody else through all the firewalls that have been put in place. So we understand science Moren more but the human condition remains in doubt. We are searching for scientific understanding of how humans function through MRI scan of the human brain and study of diversity in human condition but this is very slow because it is nondestructive testing.
Einstein said that the researcher and the research are always influencing each other. And so, when it comes down to what makes people tick, this science is also very much influenced by the religious and the psychological background of those who are doing the study. As a coach I have met many highly qualified academic scientists who work on human psychology and psychiatry who are themselves not necessarily, the smartest walnut in the barrel. If you look at any magazine that publishes the latest research on the human brain the work is so in its infancy. People still to this day do not understand what makes people tick although, in marketing, and advertising, it is the secret to success of so much product. So we know a lot just not everything. And therefore at a business level when clarity of human behaviour is not clear, doubt creeps in especially internally within the business.
Having spent many years exploring the human condition I decided to find something from which I can build certainty. In a sense that took me to a really high place in ancient knowledge. I am not trying to work out where the synapses make the brain function and what happens when they are broken I am trying to work out what is common amongst all human beings. The answer for me was consciousness. Consciousness is not a pre-given gift it is a thing that we can grow but we must understand that it is always in a state of transformation. There is no finite consciousness. We are always evolving from order to chaos and back to order again in the process of evolution.
And so, uncertainty kills business. Uncertainty is when there is no clarity and there is doubt. That is without question aligned with the human factor, clarity is without question a technological matter that can be resolved by computer, science, knowledge or as it will be soon, AI. Within the next 20 years the ability to be, and have, clarity will no longer be the foundation principle of leadership. This will be automated to a great degree and so the secret to success in leadership will be the ability to rise beyond doubt and achieve a state of certainty. And the question you might ask yourself is, if change is constant in the universe, what can we have certainty about? Especially in relation to the human condition when we also acknowledge the importance of diversity.
That is the end of this episode.