🤯Unknown Unknowns #55 - Challenging Comfort
2 min read

🤯Unknown Unknowns #55 - Challenging Comfort

🤯Unknown Unknowns #55 - Challenging Comfort

Paddling season started.  Paddling always brings unknown unknowns.  I paddle on the Hudson river, which is a "tidal estuary".  What this means is the downstream current is overwhelmed twice a day by high tide - meaning that sometimes the current goes north, and sometimes it goes south.  Since the tidal cycle isn't a 24 hour cycle, you need to check to see which way the current is going every time you go out - paddling against the current is exhausting and often futile.  On top of this, the weather, waves, and wind can change on a dime.

I check the tide schedule and weather forecasts, but the conditions can't be perfectly predicted.  To make up for the uncertainty, I bring gear for contingencies and I train in order to be able to handle most conditions.  I paddle with other people.  It's being prepared for uncertainty, not removing it.


A popular way to deal with uncertainty is to acclimate.  Tim Ferriss popularized "Comfort Challenges", such as asking for a discount at Starbucks, sitting on the sidewalk, asking strangers for favors.  This accustoms you to the tension from uncertain situations.  Edmond Lau talks about building his tension muscle.

"Our willingness to be with tension shapes our success in life.
We feel tension when we ask for something that matters to us, when we stand up for ourselves, or when we try to take conversations to a deeper level.
If we avoid tension or try to get rid of it because it makes us uncomfortable, we end up avoiding the things that matter to us most in life."

While I think this important, I'm not sure this is the solution to becoming comfortable with uncertainty.   If I hit you on the head with a hammer ten times, you'll may or may not get used to it, but I'm not sure if you're better off.

=> Essay Here


Paul Millerd shares David Whyte’s idea of the “conversational nature of reality”.  

A conversation has a back and forth.  The response shapes your response.  If you're certain how a conversation will go before you have it, you're not listening.  You can't map out everything you're going to say.  

Just like a conversation, life is dynamic.  The interplay is the action.  If you want to learn or grow, you can't know what's coming, and that's with the good and the bad.

=> Essay Here


If you're paralyzed by uncertainty, you're behind the curve.  Those who commit actions, even if they don't know what they're doing, are better off.  And those who learn from their actions even more so.

Questions, suggestions, complaints?  Email me me at [email protected].  Feedback welcome.

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Leaving you in peace,