Illustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco

Accept The Burden of Uncertainty

The wonderful thing about math is certainty. Every math problem has an answer. But entrepreneurship is different. There are no laws that bind the problem set. There are infinite paths to contemplate when creating something new. Even worse, the paths keep changing.  

The most difficult part of starting something new is the processing power you must allocate to compute the onslaught of issues you’ll face that have no answer. Every solution is indefinite. Every way forward is liable to become obstructed by some unforeseen impediment. As such, the leader’s greatest fight is against uncertainty. You can compartmentalize just about everything, but you can’t unplug from uncertainty. 

And know what? Uncertainty is a bitch. It plagues every plan you hatch, and it eats away at any attempt for peace of mind. For me personally, uncertainty caused the greatest amount of interference as I attempted to live my life while starting Behance.

I remember many occasions when I valiantly fought to disconnect – Christmas, the week of my wedding, my honeymoon, and even the birth of my daughter. And while I was “there” for all of these moments, 20 percent of my mind’s processing power was preoccupied. It wasn’t any specific deal or issue that stuck with me. On the contrary, it was the stuff I didn’t know, the “unknown unknowns.” There was no map for the voyage ahead, so I felt the need to live and sleep with an eye on the compass.

The best among us learn to master the art of parallel processing and learn to delegate. While some on your team can compartmentalize, as a leader, you cannot. 

Start by letting go of concerns for things you already know. Over the years, I have tried to reduce my time spent “checking” things that don’t move the ball forward or can be delegated to others. Daily sales, website traffic, what people are saying on Twitter, analytics for our customers, team progress on projects, and the list goes on. To create what will be, you must remove yourself from the constant concern for what already is. 

To create what will be, you must remove yourself from the constant concern for what already is. 

As for the uncertainty, accept the fact that it will weigh on you. Accept the burden of continuous processing. There’s no shortcut to deep-thinking and crunching through scenarios in the basement of your brain. It is perhaps the most important personal investment (and sacrifice) we make. Chalk it up as a burden of leadership.  

No matter what your creative endeavor is, uncertainty will be lingering around every corner. Embrace it and channel it, and you’ll gain the confidence to lead your team down a foggy path that always changes.

More insights on: Leadership

Scott Belsky

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Scott Belsky is Adobe's Vice President of Community and Co-Founder & Head of Behance, the leading online platform for creatives to showcase and discover creative work. Scott has been called one of the "100 Most Creative People in Business" by Fast Company, and is the author of the bestselling book, Making Ideas Happen.
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