The power of uncertainty

There it is: Your opposition. They look like a mountain – unapproachable, unassailable, undeniably powerful. You can feel yourself shrinking in response, unable to breathe, your mind a blank. The mountain might be your organization, looking back at you as you present your idea of that this year’s work should be, or your boss as you ask for 5 new positions, or the cop who is writing the traffic ticket you don’t deserve.

It may as well be a dementor, so thoroughly does it suck the hope and optimism from you.

They just seem so certain. So sure of themselves. Supremely confident, as though they have a corner on the truth. Naturally, we want to oppose them, and show how many holes there are in their thinking.

In the face of such certainty, our instinct is to expand ourselves. To make ourselves feel powerful, big enough to be a match for the mountain, even if that requires exaggeration or spin. Even if it requires anger. In the resulting clash of the titans, we lose. They’ve got more defensive capability at their disposal.

What about uncertainty?

I’m beginning to think that the most powerful thing to do in the face of certainty is to raise doubt. If the opposite of a great truth is another truth, might the best strategy be doubt? And not overpowering doubt, because that raises their considerable defenses. It’s the Wizard of Oz scene where Dorothy notices the great and powerful Oz is a small man behind a curtain making it up as he goes along.

There is always a little man. He is always susceptible to doubt. Perhaps this is a good way to to approach him.

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