Modern society is plagued with uncertainty from market crashes and Brexit, to the day-to-day turbulence of most white collar professions, nothing is known. This might be fine if we were not lumbered with a now redundant brain disposition, gifted from our ancestors, meaning we feel an overwhelming sense of caution and fear, when in unfamiliar territory. Obviously, we see the benefits of this brain mechanism for our cavemen ancestors. However, now it simply serves to cause grief and hinder our business in a world where uncertainty rules and important decisions must be made every day with minimal information.
So, it’s time to beat our vulnerability towards uncertainty
The most successful people are able to override this mechanism against fear of uncertainty and shift their thinking in a rational direction. This process requires emotional intelligence (EQ), and it unsurprisingly follows that 90% of top performers have high EQs and they earn an average of $28,000 more per year than their low-EQ counterparts do.
To boost your EQ, you have to get good at making sound decisions in the face of uncertainty, even when your brain fights against this. How on earth can you do this? Well, read below to find proven strategies that you can use to improve the quality of your decisions when your emotions are clouding your judgment!
1. They quiet their limbic systems
The limbic system responds to uncertainty with a knee-jerk fear reaction of fear. Fear inhibits good decision-making. People who are good at dealing with uncertainty are wary of this fear and spot it as soon as it begins to surface. In this way, they stop their judgement from being clouded at the most crucial moments. Once they are aware of the fear, they can objectively remove all of the irrational thoughts that arise. Allowing them to focus more accurately and rationally on the information before them. Throughout the process, they remind themselves that a primitive part of their brain is trying to take over the rational part. This allows them to stay in the game by telling their limbic systems to “Shhhhh!”.
2. They stay positive
Positive thoughts quiet fear and irrational thinking by focusing your brain’s attention on something that is your ‘happy place’. Any positive thought will do to refocus your attention. When things are going well and your mood is good, this is relatively easy. but, when you’re stressing over a tough decision and your mind is flooded with negative thoughts, this can be a real challenge. In these moments, think about one time in your life that made you immensely happy, no matter how small. No matter what it is, so long as you focus on the positive.
3. They know what they know—and what they don’t
When uncertainty makes a decision difficult, it’s easy to feel as if everything is uncertain, but that’s never usually the case. People who excel at managing uncertainty don’t lose perspective on what they know and what they don’t know. They gather all the facts they have, do their best to recognise what they don’t know. Identifying as many of the unknown things as possible takes away their power.
4. They embrace that which they can’t control
We all like to be in control. But this desire for control can backfire. Living in today’s uncertain world means you have to know when to let go. Successful people live in the real world. They don’t paint any situation as better or worse than it actually is, and they analyse the facts for what they are. If they don’t know something, they fess up to it and they don’t let themselves live in hear of it. Don’t be afraid to step up and say, “Here’s what we don’t know, but we’re going forward based on what we do know. We may make mistakes, but that’s a lot better than standing still.”
5. They focus only on what matters
Some decisions can make or break your company. Most just aren’t that important. The people who are the best at making decisions in the face of uncertainty don’t waste their time getting stuck on decisions where the biggest risk is looking foolish in front of their co-workers. When it comes down to it, almost every decision contains at least a small factor of uncertainty—it’s an inevitable part of doing business and of life. Learning to properly balance the many decisions on your plate and decide which ones actually matter allows you to focus your energy on the things that do matter.
6. They don’t seek perfection
Emotionally intelligent people don’t set perfection because they know there’s no such thing as a perfect decision in an uncertain situation. Think about it: human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure, and you end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently, instead of enjoying what you were able to achieve. This downward look at all of your outcomes will burst your confidence. So always look at the positives after your decisions and don’t strive to do the impossible.