Why uncertainty is so hard?

By Karen Gubb


The human mind has evolved over the years to be as efficient as possible. That means that we try to apply what have learnt in the past to situations we are currently in, or to what we expect to happen in the future. Our brain does this to try to keep us out of harm’s way quickly and effectively. This works well if what we learnt in the past is accurate and if our predictions for the future don’t contain any errors, and if the future bears some resemblance to the past.



In times of significant change, doing what we did previously is unlikely to work as well as it did previously (if indeed it did work previously), and our predictions for the future might be wildly inaccurate. When it is clear that our past experiences are no longer relevant to the decisions that we need to make about a future that has changed, we can often become anxious and start to run through many ‘what-ifs’ about the future. That is our mind trying to find a solution to keep us out of danger, but the process can be distracting and take up a lot of mind space.


Just as it does in individuals, uncertainty in a team can lead to a lack of direction, in fighting, demotivation, distrust and disconnection.


There are some ways to manage the uncertainty that work well with both individuals and teams. Some of these include:

  • Understand your strengths as these can be leveraged to figure out novel situations

  • Review what has worked well in the past and determine what of that can be used well in the current situation

  • Focus on what you do know and what you can control

  • Determine what skills the new situation demands and work to develop those that you don’t yet have.

  • Don’t make quick decisions simply to get rid of uncertainty, weigh up all options and try to get comfortable with the idea that you sometimes have no choice but to wait and see.

  • Get help – this can be from people or teams who are more experienced than you are, industry experts or from coaches who can help you and / or your team to manage the transition.

I really like the saying:

A bird does not worry that the branch it lands on is strong enough to take its weight because it trusts its own wings.


Teamery would love to help you develop trust in your and your team’s ability to fly. Contact us here to find out how.


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