The experience of uncertainty and certainty, as I wrote about previously, are moments of transition. They are part of the process of learning and discovery. One moment we are certain, then something creates an awareness that creates uncertainty. We respond with, “I didn’t know that.” Or, “How did I miss that?”

This experience is at the heart of the changes taking place in how leadership functions in our lives. Without uncertainty driving us towards certainty, we remain in a false self-confidence that we know what we need to know. This false security is why the process of self-discovery is one of the most challenging aspects of our lifetime.

The skill that we need to develop is the capacity to look at who we are, the environment we are in, the people around us, and the work that we do, without prejudice and assumptions. We need to learn to see what is there, and most importantly what we have been missing most of our lives.

The Moment We Are Aware of Our Uncertainty

How do we develop this habit of seeing?

It begins with the acknowledgment that we need to see beyond what we’ve always known.

I recently had an encounter with a woman who was experiencing a deep, traumatic transition in her life. She sat with me in the book store where I was signing books and quietly cried. She was two years into this transition. She was having a hard time accepting the transition. She wanted to go back to before the trauma had occurred.

I helped her see that her perception of the situation and of who she is had changed during those two years. She was no longer the same person. I suggested to her that two years from now she will be in a very different place. She needed a way to look at her situation differently. I described to her the Circle of Impact and encouraged her to buy the book, which she did.

My hope for her is that she discovers a fresh understanding of her purpose and begins to take the initiative to achieve it.

How Do We Learn to Change?

For many people I meet, change creates the conditions of personal uncertainty. They recognize that they are in transition, but are uncertain what it means, why it is happening, or what they should do about it.

When people sign up for my newsletter at my website,, they receive an infographic of three tools that I use to help create clarity and direction.

One of those tools is the Five Questions That Everyone Must Ask.

When confronted with uncertainty, ask the Five Questions. Don’t just ask them once. Ask them regularly.

1. What has changed? How are we in transition?

2. What is the Impact that we want?

3. Who do we want to Impact?

4. What Opportunities do we have now because of our Impact?

5. What Obstacles do we face? What Problems have we created?

If you will keep a journal when asking these questions, you wlil have a record of your transition from uncertainty to certainty. You will be able to see where you are going in the future.

The moment of awareness that occurs isn’t just random or accidental. It can be intentional. Not just intentional in a casual, occasional way. Rather, being able to see what we’ve missed can become how we move through our lives every day. We are constantly on the lookout for what we are missing in the moment we are in.

The moment of awareness is a discipline of never assuming we know everything we need to know, and always pursuing new information which will expand our perception of ourselves and our organization.

The Moment of Awareness

… begins with our self-perception.

I’m sure some of you have done a battery of self-help inventories that tell you about your personality, your temperament, your skills, and your strengths. They are an important first step to self-understanding. But too often they remain abstract ideas that have no concrete application.

True self-awareness produces humble certainty. It means we know who we are and who we aren’t. We recognize in the moment of awareness the reality that is our life at this moment. Not forever, or for all time, but just for right now, in this moment of transition. Things will change. We will change. And our self-perception will change with it.

At that moment, we should not look at ourselves in judgment as good or bad, worthy or unworthy. We should not look at ourselves as needing to become someone different. Rather, we go back to the Five Questions. We look for insight, perspective, and direction for the initiatives that we want to take as a result of our new awareness. This commitment to growing self-awareness leads to being the persons of impact that we all have the potential to be.

Dr. Ed Brenegar is a Leader for Leaders working with individuals, their teams, organizations and communities who find themselves at a point of transition. Ed has developed an innovative leadership model called, Circle of Impact, that clarifies what the impact of their life or the work of their organization can be. From this perspective, impact is the change that makes a difference that matters. Ed. for over 30 years, has inspired and equipped people and organizations to practice this fresh understanding of leadership. All leadership begins with personal initiative to create impact that makes a difference that matters. Everyone within an organization or a community can, therefore, practice leadership initiative. In so doing, they turn what were once leadership-starved organizations into leader-rich cultures that make a difference that matters.

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