Certainty is like a map. Maps represent the terrain as it was. They give us some certainty about what things were like in the past. They don’t indicate how the terrain is changing right now and where we are in it. They don’t give us a way to navigate in today’s dynamic, constantly changing world. Taking such a fixed view of reality brings dangerous side effects.
We don’t need more certainty.
We do need more clarity. Clarity about who we are, what we care most about, our capacities, our skills. Clarity about our intentions and the moment-by-moment reality of our current environment.
Clarity provides us with a compass in a perpetually changing world. Clarity illuminates where we are and the possible directions we can take to get where we want to go.
Clarity keeps us from drifting off course from our purpose.
A felt sense
I was walking through the rainforests of Ecuador a couple of years ago with an indigenous Achuar guide. I was astonished by his ability to navigate through seemingly impenetrable jungle. The acuity of his senses along with his ability to quickly respond to ever-changing conditions was inspiring. No logical thinking involved. Just a radical presence and a deep connection with all the life around us. Most of which was completely invisible to me.
We need to pay just as much attention in order to act in deep connection with our work environments. With clarity, we can move forward agilely, flexing with the flow of life rather than being stubbornly defiant in the face of a changing reality.
Clarity is first experienced in the body. It’s a “gut sense”, an intuitive “knowing” based on our being fully present. It’s our old reptilian brain sensing what is going on in and around us well before our rational neo-cortex is able to explain what is happening with any certainty. We can fine-tune this “sensing” ability through being in motion; taking action, and correcting course as we go.
A line of sight
When we let go of certainty, clarity can provide that line of sight that keeps us on course and open to miracles and surprises.
Clarity is essentially agnostic on “how” we accomplish our goals—and whether those goals need to be modified in order to achieve our larger purpose. With clarity as our compass, we can focus on our destination, while being flexible on the course we take to get there.
We can engage with a wide variety of sources that observe the world in ways that differ from our own. We can constantly question whether our methods are fulfilling our original intentions—not in an effort to be certain, but in an attempt to remain true to our purpose. We can also be awake to the possibility that our original destination is no longer worth the cost, given what we now know.
Clarity requires radical presence and focus on what is truly important to carry out our purpose. In today’s world of distractions amplified by a flood of information coming at us 24/7, it is more important than ever to separate the “signal” from the “noise”. To stay focused on the present moment and not replay the past or overthink the future.
If certainty’s rallying cry is “stay the course”, then clarity’s rallying cry is “remember why we are here and why we chose to take this journey”.
Which rallying cry are you calling out to those who follow you?