Living in the not knowing
I am a profoundly impatient person. That much is a well known fact. But that doesn’t mean I don’t give things the time they need to become whatever they need to become. It means I have no patience when it comes to giving people and organisations and situations time to decide whether they will choose to care to give things time to become.
Love’s labour lost
You know that thing, when you fall in love with someone and although neither of you know how it will end, you both affirm to each other that this is amazing, and I, too, feel everything. And we don’t know where it will end. But we know how it started. That it started. That we are here. And we will now do what it takes and wait and cherish and work for this to become.
Knowing that it might not.
But hoping it will.
How wonderful. And who would be impatient with that?
But do you also know that other thing? When you fall in love with someone who is either not in the same place as you. Or too scared to commit. Or undecided. Or keeping their options open. Or scared of getting hurt. Or not that into you?
They say “let’s see what happens” a lot. They ask you to be patient. They expect you to wait until things become, for them to declare. If it works, they may say they loved you all along. If it doesn’t, oh well, they never really showed their hand. They had another one on the hopper. It wasn’t meant to be. No biggie. Moving on.
The course of true love never did run smooth
It’s bad enough in your personal life.
It’s as bad at work.
You know this. You have been there.
Be it in the innovation department. Be it as the champion of a start-up engaged in a corporate experiment. Be it as the start-up in the petri dish. And no, it’s not a dig at DNB, they are surprisingly and refreshingly and wonderfully forthright. But I have scars from previous lives. And unrequited loves galore in my corporate life.
And the story runs like this.
We decide something is full of hope. We decide something is worth a punt. We fall for it. We do whatever alchemy is needed to embark on a journey together.
Endless due diligence.
Term sheets and value pool assessments. Projections and financial modelling galore.
Scripts and more modelling.
Long days. Long nights.
And we start.
We embark upon the thing that we believe is full of hope. The thing that we believe is part of a future. A future we believe in. A future we want.
We don’t know for sure what will happen. But we are willing to risk and try. And live in the not knowing. Together. Until we know whether we were right or wrong and, by then, be a little wiser anyway about the ways of the world and ourselves and each other.
Yes I am really talking about digital transformation. But also love stories.
So we embark on a path that will be hard but will be worth it and will keep us living in the not knowing until we know.
That is ok. You know what’s not ok?
A comedy of errors
What is not ok is going through all this trouble and still hedging.
You know that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you text someone “I love you” and you get back a winking emoji?
Or the corporate equivalent of sitting in a meeting, a year into a programme, six months into an experiment, five years into a job, and the presentation before yours, backed by the same sponsor, is about the hedging plan?
The plan anticipating your failure.
The plan going against the hope that fuels the dream that you though you served.
What we will do if this fails. What we are doing in anticipation of this failing. What we are doing to protect ourselves from commitment.
And if you object you are told that we don’t know what life brings. And living in the not knowing is all about accepting things might not work and dealing with the consequences.
Of course we don’t know what life brings.
Of course I will live with you in the not knowing.
But not alone.
And of course, while we are in the not knowing I will do everything in my power, and I mean everything in my considerable repertoire of creativity and capacity for hard work, to make the future we hope for transpire. And comfort you through the not knowing. And course correct. And adjust. Because the future is unknowable and scary but hope is mighty and we are trying to build a future here.
After many, many years of thinking that the sinking feeling in my stomach is the price I have to pay for doing business in a corporate world, when I get told hey we will embrace the future together but since we don’t know if it will work, we, on this side of you, will embrace a few other futures too and see what gives, I say: no.
I will live in the not knowing with you.
I will take a punt with you on what we believe good is in a changing world. I will build, say, my beloved Foundry with you, in the belief that it holds the answer to a more robust infrastructure and a fairer world. I will trust the team that says: “this architecture will work, trust me”. I will trust the partner that says “let’s do this first”. I will trust the partner that says take the long way with me. The future is unknowable but I think this path works better.
But I will not, ever again, make time for the weak of heart.
If the risk is mine but the reward ours. The faith mine and yours the reticence. The hope shared but the conviction one-sided. If I toil and you hedge, if I risk and you demure, then it is I living in the not knowing. And you living in the not believing.
I cannot tell you much about the future. Other than making wonderful things happen is an exercise in faith. Conviction. Trust. And love.
And that for the greatest dreams to fly, you believe before you know. And then you live in the not knowing until you no longer do.
It’s not so bad, living in the not knowing.
Provided you don’t put yourself in the not trusting.
Because building the future is not about what you know. It’s about what you dare believe is possible even if the guys before you didn’t think it was. Even if you didn’t think it was possible before now.
Living in the not knowing is fine, while doing and dreaming and standing firm.
Living in the not knowing is more than fine. When you have faith, trust and shared conviction. Because living in the not knowing cannot be done alone. The future is built by teams who believe in things and trust in each other. And not knowing the ending is fine. Exactly because of that belief, trust and vision.
Then I can wait forever. With and for you. In the not knowing, sure. But never ever in a place of little faith.
By Leda Glyptis
Leda Glyptis is FinTech Futures’ resident thought provocateur – she leads, writes on, lives and breathes transformation and digital disruption as CEO of 11:FS Foundry.
She is a recovering banker, lapsed academic and long-term resident of the banking ecosystem.
All opinions are her own. You can’t have them – but you are welcome to debate and comment!