One Thing That Always Defeats Confusion
Confused people think everything matters equally. Never give all thoughts and options equal weight.
The four results of confusion are:
- Self-affirmation that inaction was wise.
Confusion, although painful, is a comfort to those afraid to move forward. When confusion wins, everything continues on as it was.
Fearful leaders focus on uncertainties. Uncertainties fuel confusion. Big decisions never feel safe.
A miserable present feels safer than an uncertain future. That’s why you choose hover-mode.
Uncertainty is a smokescreen. Why? The future is always uncertain. But, when it’s time to make big decisions, we act as though an uncertain future is some new surprising thing.
Confusion thrives when you focus on the past. The front-story matters more than the back-story. Think more about where you want to go and who you want to be.
Glance at the past.
Face the brutal present. Big decisions are necessary because the present is unacceptable.
Advisers need to know the front-story more than the back-story. They don’t need to know how you got here. They need to know where you want to go.
Ignorance is an advantage.
All you really need to know is what’s important now.
Outcomes are always uncertain. Align behaviors with what matters now.
- Identify and address your greatest pain-point. Pain points the way.
- Remember the future is the present if you don’t change today.
- Clarity is the result of elimination. Throw out, at least temporarily, less important issues.
- Focus on issues where you have most control. Inserting issues is a smokescreen.
- Play the movie forward and ask, “What will I most regret if I leave it undone?”
Point of comfort: complexity, confusion, and fear always precede simplicity, clarity, and courage.
How can leaders find clarity in confusion?
‘…we act as though an uncertain future is some new surprising thing.’
That says it all right there.
How much of life is spent trying to control what is for the most part….uncontrollable? The realistic fear is that we can’t. We’re ONE microscopic spec of dust in an infinite universe. There’s quite a few variables far outside of my power and control.
But alas…we dare think we are so much bigger then all of that.
It seems to always come back to the fact we can only control what we think, say, and do and we can only do that in the here and now.
Your quote is so good I have to type it again because it’s TRUE!
‘…we act as though an uncertain future is some new surprising thing.’
Quite true Samantha, but spectacular, unique, wonderful, indescribable…..each an eachness in the allness of God and ALL necessary…microscopic particles of Gods Magic Fairy Dust!!!
Have a great day S!!
Thanks Samantha. It sad but true. We think we can control things we can’t. No wonder we prefer NOT making a decision. It reminds us that we don’t control very much.
Love the microscopic spec illustration. It makes me amazed that the things we do actually matter. But, we have a tendency to get too big for our britches.
Glad you enjoyed the quote.
Well in my understanding(which is awesome….hehe) there is only one(neo)…problem. A conscious separation from me and God.
Therefore, only one solution.
All the good stuff comes when I am plugged in!!!
So for me I figure since others are just like me, just Gods other kids what works on a base level works for one, it works for all.
Find out what those simple basic things are do them and ignore the white noise from those who sincerely try but have no idea what they are talking about.
Find out what really works and sidestep the white noise.
What works for me is when I feel dis-ease….gently giggle!!
I lost my mental focus again!! Who wouldn’t look at all the shiny distractions!!
Stop…..empty my mind(don’t take long..lol)
Check back in with my Higher Power, ask for inspiration for my next most effective action….feel epically grateful for the answer prior to it showing itself.
Yeah that’s the ticket, making copies!
Ok back to oxytocin generation!!!
Thanks Scott. I see you writing about being centered as the way you deal with confusion. I find being centered doesn’t eliminate confusion as much as give strength to move through it.
Cool way to look at!!
Very successful. I needed to read something like this today. Thank you Dan 🙂
Thanks Eneyda. It’s always a pleasure to serve. Best wishes
Sometimes, as a leader, it’s a simple as being willing to listen. I estimate that at least half the time when my team members come to me because they aren’t sure how to proceed with a project, taking the time to listen to their issues helps them find clarity and priority. In our minds, what steps to take next can get muddled and gooey and lumped together; but when we voice those same steps often become much more obvious.
Thanks Scott. Great call on listening. It’s wonderful how a listening ear can bring clarity to another.
I wonder if you’ve ever come across those people where listening doesn’t help them. The more they talk the more confused they get?
Sometimes I think the more I talk the more confused I sound. But fortunately, I have not run into the situation you describe. I think as an “active” listener, part of my role is to help them clarify their words and by asking the right questions.
When I am seeking clarity at work about decisions and next steps, I run it through the “mission and vision” filter. Will this decision bring us closer to our vision? Will it remain in alignment with our mission? Usually one stands out higher than the rest. I also have a set of goals given to me by my boss, so they are the next level down, filter-wise, if several options are still vying for my attention.
Thanks Dunk. Great add and so true. Lets get clear on what we are trying to accomplish in the world. Doing this aids the elimination process.
During times of greater confusion i’d say it’s critical to reiterate or open new lines of communication. Encourage everyone at all levels to openly discuss their emotional uncertainty rather than trying to bottle it up and “be professional”. Cite examples of open discussions you’ve had with employees at levels senior and junior that helped to clear up confusion.
Thanks James. I’ve found that getting “it” out actually energizes people. It’s holding in uncertainty that drains us. Great add!
Great question to ask: What’s the very next step I need to take to move forward? Then…take that step. It’s so simple, but it brings so much clarity. #liveitforward
Thanks Kent. It’s wonderful how clarity comes AS we move forward. Our trouble is we want it before.
Yo yo yo!!!
So what I hearing you saying is it is Motion that creates emotions???
Precisely, good call!!
Thank you! Great post! I especially like, “Think more about where you want to go and who you want to be.” Unless we change how we are in the present as we choose what we do, then we’ll face the future arising from our past instead of the future we create NOW. Let us always move forward with courage (from the French for “heart”) & clarity (what are our goals, values, mission, and objective in which we are in unity & alignment?)!
Thanks Paul. The past is important as a learning tool but when it comes to making big decisions thinking about where we are going seems to matter more. I listen to confused people and all they talk about is the past and things they can’t control.
Confused people need to understand first! Once they understand the issues often times everything else works out. A state of confusion is a mindset when we go into overload and fail to differentiate what really takes priority. Step back take a deep breath, go for a walk, thinks things out in a priority state what needs done first and the rest will fall into line… Cheers
Thanks Tim. Overload is a main source of confusion in my life. Once I get to overload, confusion sets in then I can’t move. That’s when eliminating things is most useful.
Why get confused in the first place? If you are a leader in your field and you are confidence in your abilities? As a Psychologist and teacher I work getting managers past that level of confusion permently. Are Americans obsessed with perfection. All of the ‘modern american psychology self-help books’ are in my mind ‘junk ‘ theorist’s. I would be laughed out of my profession if I ever tried to use any of their approaches. They are often uneducated and badly written . That is my opinion of american modern psychology self help authors. Joseph.
Thanks Joseph. You hint at a major source of confusion, seeking a perfect answer. No wonder we get paralyzed.
I hear psychopaths never get confused. Hehe
All I got here is black and white thinking…very very disturbing examples throughout history.
With the amount of the brain used, meaning at best about 10% being used, how is confusion not just a part of the gig?
I must say Joe I actually LOVE the Boldness with your initial statement, just not sure I see it is possible???
Some Spiritual Dudes someplace practice Contemplative Meditation??? Isn’t contemplating weighing sides? Doesn’t that mean they ain’t quite sure???
Plus at what point that those are never wrong, confused ever figure out they actually made a boo-boo?
Plus going by what you say what do you do with Supremecists?
I mean a hard core Evangelical Christian and a Radical Muslim, you really want to help strengthen two polar opposite beliefs????
And before I get clobbered a snake handling EC even the folks mainstream Christians would look at as a bit o extreme!
If both those imaginary dudes were your clients what would you do, what would you do????
Do not let the snarky way I ask let you feel I am not really sincere in asking.
I find what you wrote both intriguing and interesting. I just think accepting the “I don’t know jack” is great after I embraced it!! Set me up always being curious about learning cool new stuff. If I already know it all, what’s left to be curious about???
Thanks Dan for this article. Am at wit’s end as am now in a state of confusion! To find clarity, a leader needs to push away what is confused and stay focus ! Not to deviate from what is important.
Life can sometimes be full of all sorts of hindrances .
Thanks Choong. Priorities or identifying what is important enables next steps. We find clarity when we move, not before.
Am confused ! Made a choice of studying my MBA-management while on sabbatical with the kids. Am a practising GP. Would have loved to move into an establishment with the capability to practise both degrees, Is it being a female that doors aren’t opening? In my mind, I was heading in the right direction and had found clarity. What happened is nothing happened ! Am always working in posts that hinders my progress and does not allow me to move forward. Instead am going backwards! What does one do in situations like this ? What’s next! Am a confused leader who is still perservering ! Any advice, please. Thanks
Confusion thrives when we look at the past is the most powerful concept that I like. Among reasons mentioned for confusion, I think fear is potentially powerful. And there may be many reasons triggering fear- fear of security, fear of survival, fear of being defeated, fear of not being promoted, fear of being avoided, fear of perceived differently etc. I think, if we minutely observe, root cause of so many confusion could be fear. There are other factors as well as mentioned by you. I also feel that person’ priority and responsibility are great drivers to invite confusion. This is fueled when expectation is increased and there is compulsion. To be more specific, when your priority to look after your family but expectation is something else, then even after having all your capabilities and potential, you may confuse what to concentrate upon. So, taking clue, I think when priority is higher than expectation, then confusion tend to invade. In other words, expectation should be lower than priority to overcome confusion. But this may not be always right because I think habitual confusion is a state of mind. And it is generally driven by uncertainty and fear.
Leaders can find clarity in confusion by two ways- to find clarity with self, introspection is the key and to find clarity with others, more interaction and communication is the key. Engaging into healthy conversation with others may remove many confusions. I also believe that many times, we do not our real capabilities and potential. And many times, we realize when others make us realize. So, defeating confusion is mutual process- either with self or with others.
Thanks Ajay. Your suggestions for finding clarity are helpful. Both suggest opening up. There are a million reasons why we think we should close down when we are confused. Closing down only makes matters worse. So glad you added your insights.
Flat organizations with clear purpose and competent people allow focus on objectives with minimum confusion. Scarce resources also bring clarity because they force focus.
Training for special forces, emergency response, surgical procedures reflect this concept.
The leader’s role is to clarify mission, flatten organization, ensure training, give just enough resources, remove fear that may cloud judgment.
Thanks Marc. Love your orientation to this conversation. In particular – flatten organizations. What’s more confusing AND demoralizing than bureaucracy?
Dan, you always provide timely and relevant content and I thank you for that.
I was experiencing some confusion just last night. I didn’t know what to do or where to go in my life and business. I have some huge decisions to face.
I find that open honesty and communication, especially with yourself, is what brings clarity.
P.S. I love the new layout of your blog. It looks wonderful.
Thanks Marty. A good word is a thing of beauty. Thanks also for affirming the idea that openness helps eliminate confusion. Best wishes for the journey.
For the clarity tips, I like how #3&4 interconnect. By focusing on the issues that you have the most control, you can eliminate issues off your list and continue to move forward.
It piece is so true and enlightening. When things seem to be going sour in life all we have to do is focus, address, eliminate and focus again…Thanks for the post.
“Remember the future is the present if you don’t change today.” That is so true, excellent post. I rarely see someone explain confusion so clearly. Nice one Dan. 🙂
I’ve read this over and over again. This very much hits home for me. Excellent post! Has helped to keep me forward focused these last few weeks. Thank you!