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Monday, May 28, 2012

Living In The Question

Years ago, a work colleague talked a lot about "living in the question". It took me quite a while to understand what she meant and even longer to get at all comfortable not having answers all the time. How comfortable are you living in the question? When you encounter ambiguous situations how do you react?

It's possible our tolerance for ambiguity begins eroding soon after we become responsible adults. Part of what we're paid to do, no matter our line of work, is to have answers. I recall how my colleague would elicit smirks when she was brave enough to say "I'm not sure". Sometimes others would then quickly jump in with their answers. If those answers were rewarded in some way, those people could be smug when interacting later with my colleague. I was humbled by her uncertainty, but it took me years to get brave enough to emulate her. I've still got a long way to go.

While listening to a discussion about a very ambiguous ending to a novel the other day, I watched a similar dynamic at work. I resisted the temptation to offer an answer, stayed in the question, thought of my colleague and smiled.

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