Embracing Confusion

When was the last time you were seriously confused? This morning in a meeting? Last week in a conversation with your mother? Last month when working in a team to resolve a challenge to the business?

And what was your response? Revel in it? Tolerate it? Refuse to acknowledge it? Put strategies and structures in place to remove it?

Confusion was a major theme of last week for me. I attended an executive development program at Harvard University with a teaching approach unlike any I (and most of the other participants) had experienced before. There were challenging and uncomfortable moments – moments where it took courage to stay in the game.

What’s fascinating about confusion is that most of us will do whatever we can to get out of confusion… As quickly as possible…

What made it possible for us to stay in the confusion and gain new insight and understanding, was the permission given at the beginning by the program chair, Professor Ron Hiefetz. He gave us ‘permission to be confused’. He stressed, (and I certainly found) that learning happens at the frontier of our competence.

I learned a lot about myself last week, and a lot about leadership. I also learned to stay longer in the confusion.

What’s your relationship to confusion? It’s great to be proud of where you are on your life journey; to take confidence in your ability to succeed; to luxuriate in what you know.  My invitation for this week, is to also celebrate the confusion, and stay in it long enough to learn.

Go Fearlessly