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The Success Mindset: Becoming Certain About Uncertainty

It’s commonly said that the only certainties in life are death and taxes; I would contest, however, that we add uncertainty to that list as well. For all our planning and preparation, we inevitably detour into the land of uncertainty. This is especially relevant in the world of an entrepreneur: without the stability of a consistent wage and position – a complete dependency on creating and generating business for yourself – uncertainty is, well, certain.


Uncertainty itself represents the unknown; it’s not inherently ‘bad’ or ‘good’ – that’s a matter of perspective. To illustrate, consider these examples: you find a stray $10 bill on the ground; your table receives a free appetizer at a restaurant, compliments of the chef; a hotel double-booked your room, and upgrades you to a suite as compensation. Most of us would believe these ‘good’, largely because they benefit – or, at least, do not harm – us. Conversely, consider these: you lose a $10 bill somewhere on the way from home to work; your favourite meal cannot be made because the restaurant is out of a key ingredient; the hotel that double-booked your room turns you away because they are already over-booked. The latter examples, while just as uncertain or unexpected as the former, would very likely be perceived as ‘bad’.


The most common difficulty we, as humans, deal with is that our minds fill the unknown with innumerable ‘what if’ scenarios, attempting to predict the future. Too often, the future scenarios we think of are negative, or ‘bad’, ones – the proverbial ‘what could go wrong, will’. Entrepreneurs experience this regularly, where negative ‘what ifs’ created are heavily rooted in fear: fear of failure, fear of success (yes, that does exist), imposter syndrome, and many more. Even becoming a franchisee does not protect you from the fear of uncertainty; while a franchise system has proven methods and processes which have generated success for many, there is no guarantee. As with any entrepreneurial effort, what you do with the tools you have, and how you reframe your relationship with, and perspective of, uncertainty will dictate your ultimate success.


Accepting that uncertainty is an inevitability is the first step in being able to embrace it. While your first instinct may be to go into ‘damage control’ mode and avoid moving forward (the ‘freeze’ part of fight/flight/freeze), take a moment and consider how the uncertainty you face can be a means of learning, growth, and opportunity. Don’t let fear of outcomes that do not exist (those ‘what ifs’) keep you from achieving untold success. There’s no such thing as ‘absolute certainty’, so becoming as certain as you can about uncertainty will free you from the trappings of your own mind, and the fears that reside within, which hold you back.

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