I wrote a while back about the enormous uncertainty in entrepreneurship in Faith Based Entrepreneurship. It is a strange thing that is not often talked about in the “start-up” coverage – that you have to write a business plan, calendar of activities, and take action in spite of not knowing what will happen during most steps of the process. This week I started to feel the odd shift of inner tectonic plates – or whatever the big thing is inside that shifts when we have been forced to grow: I am becoming slightly more comfortable taking action in the face of uncertainty.
And I think part of this (besides the personal growth that has occurred over the past 2 yrs) is that the outer world is finally starting to mirror my inner world. I.e. – it is not just me who is having to take action and chart a path forward in uncertain waters – we all are in some way or another. And in some way that makes it easier for me to accept. We are facing intense uncertainty on all sides: political, economic, environmental, social. I am not alone in this uncertainty, but part of an expansive population of people trying to do their best in an uncertain world.
This week I forced myself to move forward with a pivotal business decision. I am beginning work with a new production partner who may very well be able to produce, beautiful, made to measure garments – and thus open up a whole world of possibility for my work. I had been thinking about it, writing about it – weighing the pro’s and con’s and looking around at the alternatives – and I finally realized that I had come to the point where there was no way to move forward without taking action and seeing what happens. And I take this action knowing very well that it may not work out or, conversely, it may open a whole world beyond what I could have imagined. At this point I have learned enough to know that with either scenario I will keep moving and fighting one way or another.
I reflect here for a moment on how scary it is to take action in the face of great uncertainty. Sometimes we are afraid to answer those questions taking action will answer for us. Inevitably taking action means that the way we imagine something very likely will be shot to shit. But I have also learned that this is not necessarily a bad thing – what often replaces it is something my imagination was just too narrow to see.
Tara Brach has once again swooped in to the rescue for those of us struggling in an uncertain world with a beautiful lecture on how to take action in the face of not knowing. And in that lecture was a quote that is becoming my call to arms. I’d like to share it here in case you find, like me, that it brings comfort and energy to your actions:
Clarissa Estés, the American poet and psychoanalyst, writes that we are:
“…Like seaworthy vessels that are capable of navigating the stormy waters of these times. We were made for these times. For years we’ve been in training for this exact plane of engagement. When a ship is in harbor and moored it’s safe – there can be no doubt. But that’s not what great ships are built for. Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul. To assist some potion of this poor suffering world will help immensely. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of such acts. We know that it does not take everyone on earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second or hundredth gale. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times.
To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these. To be fierce and to show mercy towards others: both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.”