Ambiguity is the unknown. It is what we can’t see or maybe are not sure about because something may have multiple meanings. It’s gray, not black and white, and it can be hard to discern at times which way is up or down. Working yourself out of an ambiguous situation requires one to find something that is known and to cling to it. This serves as an anchor to keep you grounded.
I had friends that were stranded on a ski slope during a snowstorm in whiteout conditions. The storm came on them fast when during the last run of the day. As they were moving down the slope, the storm hit and the snow became so intense they couldn’t tell which was down the slope back to the lodge. After a moment of panic, one of the skiers realized that each ski trail is edged by woods. He thought that if they could just go to what felt like the side of the trail, they could find the woods, and using that as a guide, follow the trail down. After a couple of minutes of shuffling over to what they thought was the side of the trail, they found the woods and used it as a reference point to make their way down the slope. It took over an hour, but they got home safely.
The unknown surrounds us and we can see it every day in our decision-making process. Can you move forward and make a decision based on a limited amount of information or a hunch, assumption, or gut reaction?
One way that I have found to effectively deal with an ambiguous situation is to realize that it is ok not to know. Success or even survival is dependent upon taking one step at a time and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. This enables one to slowly, but sometimes quickly, sort through the options that are available to you.
Knowing yourself is a key part of this problem-solving process. It can bring a level of clarity that’s similar to a beam of light from a lighthouse in the fog. When faced with the unknown and sometimes a lack of direction, there’s often only one way out and that’s to take charge and push through:
Be the light in the dark.
Be the source of information.
Be the knife that cuts through problems.