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Published:November 29th, 2010 15:01 EST
Ambiguity: Friend or Foe?

Ambiguity: Friend or Foe?

By Simon Bailey (Mentor/Columnist)

In a recent IBM survey of 1,541 face-to-face interviews of CEOs in 60 countries and 33 industries, 79% of them anticipate greater complexity ahead and many doubt their ability to manage it.  In this same study, a Telecommunications CEO in Brazil predicted "The services that account for 80% of our revenue today will only be our second-largest source of revenue in five years.  That is a ton to digest in one sitting.  However, there is significant opportunity in the midst of the unknown."
Have you ever had days when you look around and wonder what is going on?  Have you ever asked yourself, what is really important?  How do you know if what you are doing really drives value?  It`s like sitting in a movie theater all alone and the movie has finished, you are ready to leave, but there is no illumination to point you towards the exit.  You end up staying longer than you planned as you wait for someone to flip the switch.
In the midst of ambiguity, you have to pay attention to what is happening around you.  Alexander Graham Bell was a gifted pianist who noticed that a chord struck on one piano would be echoed by a piano in another room.  He realized that whole chords could be transmitted through the air, vibrating at the other end at exactly the same pitch.  This simple observation would lead him to create the telephone.
Ambiguity comes alongside you to push you to ask profound questions.  The first questions you must ask yourself - where have I been (do an assessment of your experiences, education and life journey), why am I here (determine what choices, decisions, and opportunities have brought you to this point), what can I do (what skills will you cultivate and grow), and where am I going (what snapshots are flickering before the movie screen of your mind)?  Answering these questions is the initial step towards brilliant clarity.
A new future is waiting to emerge for you and it can only come when you reach a place where you admit that you don`t know what you don`t know.  When you crack open the door of your mind, you will be exposed to a fresh wind of new possibilities that were created in the midst of uncertainty.  Adam Smith, author of the timeless classic Wealth of Nations, said "On the road from the City of Skepticism, I had to pass through the Valley of Ambiguity."
Some of you are waiting for the company to do something and I submit to you that the company is waiting for you to step up and lead without a title.  In fact, in the same survey by IBM, CEOs stated the most important attribute needed within the next five years is creativity.  In my opinion, ambiguity leads to unlocking your creative genius.  The fact that you are still alive and reading this e-newsletter is a sign that you have the propensity to create the future.
This is the greatest moment of your life.  You are invited to embrace ambiguity because it is a clue that your breakthrough is around the corner.
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