Embracing Uncertainty

Should I stay, or should I go? The classic song from The Clash has been running through my head lately as we come to terms with the mixed messages around the phased re-opening of the economy. Many leaders and employees are polarized right now around the decision to get people back into the workplace or to stay safe at home. According to a recent New York Times article (you can find it here), Google, Facebook, Amazon, Capital One, and others are extending work-from-home policies to September, and some are even extending them far beyond into 2021. 

There is still a lot of uncertainty, but some uncertainty is good for us. I am sure you have heard the saying that the journey is better than the destination, well, that is because uncertainty and anticipation build-up to an outcome. This is based on neuroscience, specifically motivation theory. In motivation theory, dopamine performs its tasks before we obtain rewards, meaning that its real job is to encourage us to act, either to achieve something good or to avoid something bad. Most people think dopamine is a neurotransmitter for pleasure, but when researchers took a closer look, they found something strange. They saw spikes in dopamine occurred in moments of high stress. 

So, embracing uncertainty is as critical now as it always has been. We need to be willing to be comfortable with discomfort in order to grow and prepare for the future.


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