August 2022
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Embracing the Unknown

Monday, August 1, 2022

The Upside of Uncertainty: A Guide to Finding Possibility in the Unknown
By Nathan Furr and Susannah Harmon Furr
Harvard Business Review Press, 320 pp., $30

With so much uncertainty in the world the past two-plus years, this book aims to take a positive approach with both mindset and actions to manage the unknown. The authors focus on how uncertainty can lead to positive life change and how individuals can look for uncertainty to improve their lives.


To execute that, the Furrs created an uncertainty first aid kit to enable readers to manage their anxieties of the unknown. The kit—or diagram—outlines four pathways for working through uncertainty, including actions (things to do) and a mindset (how to think).

They then break down the action and mindset tactics into specific, usable tools. For example, they create a risk-o-meter to help readers identify where and when it makes sense to take a jump into the unknown.

One of this book's greatest assets is that for each tool, the authors include a specific section of practice exercises and reflection to better help readers apply the book's theory in their everyday lives.

The authors assert that "people comfortable with uncertainty are more creative, more successful entrepreneurs, and more effective leaders," which made me think about my own experience as an entrepreneur. It took me almost a year to secure my first client and a few years to generate consistent income. Was I uncomfortable with it? Absolutely. But did it help me become the entrepreneur I am today? One hundred percent.

Another key concept is the idea of challenging assumptions. "Sometimes the most interesting adjacent possibilities reveal themselves when we challenge our most quotidian assumptions," the authors write. If assumptions are a comfort zone, how can individuals oppose them in a way that increases personal growth?


For entrepreneurs, it is easy to fall back into the mindset that we are not unique. But as the Furrs write, "we get to choose how we face our competition, whether it beats us down with anxiety or we allow it to fuel our best attempt." Instead of focusing on being the best, focus on being your best.

I enjoyed this book as a unique reflection opportunity into my own development. It is a must-read for any individual looking to increase their confidence and their ability to take risks and ultimately live a more fulfilled life.

About the Author

Lindsay Kirsch is a learning and performance specialist with more than 20 years in the industry.

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