Understanding Negative Capability: How Being Comfortable With Uncertainty is Your Greatest Asset as an Entrepreneur

The atmosphere of collaboration and teambuilding can feel uncertain and ambiguous at times, causing it to be overwhelming and challenging for many people. Which is part of why the discomfort of collaboration can unfortunately lead many people to avoid it all together. Luckily there’s a solution.

There is a concept called “Negative Capability” that was initially coined by Poet John Keats when describing writers like Shakespeare and artists like Picasso who were able to work within high levels of uncertainty and doubt, and even find a way to delight in it and produce incredible work.

Keats used the term to describe one’s ability to accept not having an immediate answer, and being willing to explore how something could evolve before a clear outcome appears.

This concept not only applies to writers and creatives, it applies to business, our personal struggles, and even our collaborative relationships too. 

So we have put together a quick explanation of how negative capability can welcome curiosity, focus, and resolution in your life as a collaborator.

Regardless of industry, this skill can help you boost your team building and collaborative processes exponentially and all you need to do is look within yourself.


What Negative Capability Looks Like In Action:

Negative Capability is the advanced ability to accept uncertainty, mystery, doubt, and ambiguity. Often in entrepreneurship, we lack a template, or instruction manual to follow step by step for our ideas. Yet we still manage to enjoy the journey and many of us even have a tendency to delight & relish in the sense of feeling lost. That’s in essence, part of the experience of utilizing Negative Capability.

To understand a bit better let’s discuss the difference between Passive & Active Uncertainty and how it will shape our understanding of Negative Capability.

Passive Uncertainty:

  1. “Fight or Flight” impacts decision making
  2. Typically comes from a place of ignorance or general insecurity
  3. Supports ‘Decisive Action’ that at times can irrationally and irritably reach beyond fact and reason.

Active Uncertainty:

  1. Uncertainty that comes from being without a template to follow
  2. The ability to delight and relish in the sense of feeling lost
  3. Supports ‘Reflective Inaction‘. Which just means to resist defaulting back to defensive routines when leading at the limits of one’s knowledge.

Negative Capability deals more in the realm of active uncertainty. Which is the uncertainty that comes from lacking a template to follow, and from paving your own way in life with little to no direction to help guide your way.

This type of uncertainty is common in team situations and collaborative environments because there are many minds with many different ideas and perspectives, causing a lot of ambiguity.

As a creator, ambiguity is just part of the game and that’s exactly why it’s important to learn how to cooperate with one another.

Which we can do that by suspending critical judgement until the end result & staying flexible to many possible outcomes rather than being overly attached to an early vision of success.


How Does Practicing Negative Capability Impact Your Life & Work?

  1. You’ll feel less hurried and chaotic.
  2. Increased curiosity & desire to discover truth.
  3. Enriched decision making capacity.
  4. Provides an alternative solution to managing stress. anxiety, and overwhelm.
  5. Establishes a mental foundation for navigating collaborative disagreements.
  6. Reduces pressure of fallout from missed expectations and misunderstandings.
  7. Makes a more flexible environment for communication, opinions, ideas & feedback.
  8. Infuses mindfulness and reflection into the work life processes.
  9. Encourages exploration, experimentation, innovation, and adaptability.
  10. Ensures that you don’t prematurely jump to conclusions that may appear more certain, but are in fact suboptimal.
  11. Helps your team remain focused and excited even when a project may be far from its end goal.
  12. Gives you the chance to appreciate fully and experience wholly the things that to others, often appear to transcend logic.
  13. Unafraid of being wrong or making mistakes because you see these as opportunities to grow and gain knowledge.
  14. It encourages the mindset that there are things that reason, alone, cannot always adequately explain. 
  15. Pushes you to remain flexible to many possible outcomes rather than being overly attached to an early vision of success.

So How Do You Practice Negative Capability?

  1. Disregard the need to analyze and control every detail when working within a team, or collaborative partnership.
  2. Practice regularly thinking and playing with new ideas and perspectives without judgement.
  3. Always tell a story with your ideas and vision, because in reality you are the only one who can actually see your vision. Which means you’ll need to get really good at storytelling and really believe in your story too.
  4. Push yourself to explore situations where you are less knowledgeable, experienced, or comfortable and let yourself sit in that uncertainty. Use this to challenge yourself to adapt, grow, and gain knowledge about something that you may not be super familiar with.

Negative capability is a universally accessible mental tool that can help us all grow and continue a smooth transition into a more flexible and collaborative work culture. 

2020 absolutely catapulted this transition far ahead. Which is exciting, but now that the chaos is winding down we are able to continue the transition more mindfully and make sure that all of our collaborative efforts prove to be impactful and well thought out.


If you are interested in learning more about this topic or how to overcome your own collaborative roadblocks:

Reach out to us anytime, or read the book linked below that was used as inspiration for this post!

Concept of “Negative Capacity” excerpted from book: HBR Review : Guide to Managing Strategic Initiatives : Lead with confidence, overcome roadblocks, and put strategy into action.

Mastering Collaboration Without Hesitation

When evaluating collaborative environments, we see that if we are able to combine the right people, with the right skills and values, and the time to build trust and communication, teams can accomplish truly incredible things.

Collaboration is a hot topic, and is hugely important to the success of so many initiatives. Yet, there is still plenty of hesitation around collaboration, so we want to address it head on.

Collaboration isn’t a yellow brick road to success. You will most certainly have to navigate some hurdles along the way. Many of us have overcome a fair share of hurdles to embrace collaboration in our own professional or creative lives.

Collaboration comes naturally to some, and naturally more challenging to others. 

We each face different hurdles when it comes to mastering our own collaborative contribution. Yet, there are some difficulties that all individuals and teams regularly face when striving to cohesively work together.


Fear

Fear is pretty relevant in all areas of business but especially when it comes to collaboration. We don’t often express our fears around working together, but our actions often prove the fears to be true. Fear of collaboration is an unsubstantiated fear, but it still has a negative impact on the effectiveness of countless teams.

Many fears around teamwork and collaboration are rooted in fears that our environment won’t value our ideas, visions, and opinions.

Fears are very personal, and take personal initiative to overcome them. When you shift to embrace your fears and contribute confidently within your team, you can open up a whole new world of possibilities.

Common Fears Around Collaboration

  • Fear That Someone Will Take Your Idea
  • Fear That Someone Will Make Something Better Than You
  • Fear That You Will Fail or Be Wrong
  • Fear That You Don’t Know Enough to Contribute
  • Fear that You Will Take the Blame if the Project Fails
  • Fear That Our Knowledge and efforts will be less valued than others.

Mindset

We can begin to welcome and empower collaboration by changing our mindset. 

Our ability to work coequally within a team can be disrupted when we are so set in our own perspective, that we cannot even recognize someone else’s viewpoint in its entirety.

As humans we can easily think that we are the best, and that we know best, when in reality we may not. Which can cause us to hoard our knowledge, ideas, and skills from others.

A common misconception about collaborating is “if I collaborate or discuss their ideas with someone, the other person will steal my ideas and run off into the sunset with them!”.

While this “could” happen, it probably won’t. Because, even if someone does run with your idea, they could never bring it to life in the special way that you can.

This is why we have brand loyalty and are able to enjoy brands like Nike, Adidas, Reebok, and more all within the same “ business sphere”. Each coexisting to provide the most value and best products for their customers in their own unique ways.

Yes, they are competitors, but they each have their own audience and loyal brand supporters. This seems to be working out just fine for each of them, so don’t worry too much.

Remember nobody can do you (or your ideas), like you can.

Don’t hide yourself and hoard your knowledge from the world because that really serves no one, not even yourself.


Team Culture

The culture and organizational structure in which your team operates can have great impacts on its collaborative success. When a company’s culture is rooted in fear, competition, or politics then the potential for effective collaboration will be limited. 

Fear based work cultures are most harmful to employees and their quality of work. This type of culture isn’t conducive to the sharing of ideas, and often leaves employees feeling alone and invaluable in many collaborative settings.

It’s been proven that when a team focuses on tackling a “common enemy” or shared challenge outside of the organization, it helps bring the team closer together and motivate them to work harder and more cohesively.

One of the biggest signs of fear based work culture is competition within the team itself.

Competition should only ever exist outside of a team. Competition within collaborative environments tears teams apart and makes accomplishing success more challenging.

Lastly and maybe most importantly, commit to recognizing contributions and celebrating successes within your team. This ensures that everyone feels valued and supported within the team, and those team members will be more likely to maintain or improve their contributions in the future with confidence.


Tips To Master Collaboration Without Hesitation

  1. Make a safe space for the wisdom and feedback of others.
  2. Embrace the uncertainty of collaboration by giving everyone permission to fail.
  3. There are actually no foolish Ideas. Many of the greatest ideas began as foolish ideas.
  4. Prioritize acceptance over agreement. Acceptance is always the best way to come to a fair and effective agreement.
  5. Collaboration thrives when every person involved can contribute with acceptance, clarity, and support.
  6. Collaborative ideas are collectively inspired, and they stem from something much greater than ourselves. Avoid becoming overly attached to your ideas when collaborating. They are not yours to keep so it’s okay to release them and see what happens.
  7. Recognize efforts regularly & celebrate success as often as possible.

Come work on your collaboration and networking with a community of likeminded business owners and entrepreneurs at our weekly BOSS Board Meet Ups! More Info Here.

If you would like to learn more about Project 3810, our community, and how we are equipped to serve you, click here.

Finding Balance In The Hustle and Grind

Finding Balance In The Hustle And Grind

It’s a common misconception that being more busy often equals more success. Humans have a natural inclination to compete. Which is partially how the modern hustle and grind culture was born. 

Hustle and grind have taken over the way in which we work, and it’s still a hot topic whether or not that’s a good or a bad thing.

Guilt for grinding too hard. Guilt for not grinding hard enough. These are opposite forces that pull us. That opposing pull is because these two sides are interconnected and interdependent.  

Balance isn’t getting rid of one extreme or the other. Balance as I see it, is letting these opposing forces guide us as we navigate our life and work so that the scales don’t tip too far in either direction. 

With that definition of balance in mind, I think we can all agree that it’s good to live the most balanced life that we can, in whatever way that means the most to you.

So how do we find a balance within the extremes of the hustle and grind culture that we have grown so accustomed to?


1. Find Your Own Grind

Everyone is different. We each vary greatly in things like personality, discipline, mental stamina, creative inspiration, passion, motivation, adaptability, etc. and each of these play a role in shaping the way that we “grind”.

A healthy and balanced grind for me, may leave you feeling drained, frustrated and burnt out by the end of the week. Or for example, let’s say that you are passionate about something and could easily hustle 14 hours a day for it, yet someone else may hustle for 4 hours a day towards their passion and be equally as satisfied and/or successful. 

One of the best ways to ensure you are following your own grind is to be internally driven, not externally motivated and you can do this by simply following your passions and intuition and staying true to your core values

Find Your Rhythm & Flow

Make the commitment to get familiar with your natural work and rest rhythms, and then find a flow with them rather than feeling pressure to grind all of the time even when it may not be in your best interest.

Once you are clear on why you hustle and what you want in this life, you can begin to fall into a natural rhythm that your grind can align to.

This rhythm is how we work, how we interact, how we prioritize, and make important decisions. This is how people will know if they can work well with us or not. It’s also how the universe aligns complimentary people and opportunities with you, and deters the wrong people and opportunities away from you.

If we disregard our natural rhythm, we run the risk of aligning ourselves with the wrong people, the wrong opportunities, and even the wrong grind. 

Hustle culture often puts us in a position where we grow accustomed to operating on autopilot, causing us to disregard what may actually be most healthy and practical for our own lives. 

This is why knowing your rhythm, priorities and values are super important. 

When those things are clear to you, they will be clear to others and the universe will be able to work for you, and it won’t always feel like it’s working against you.


2. Hustle For The Right Reasons

Avoid burnout, confusion, and resentment by being crystal clear on why you are hustling in the first place.

If you are just hustling for the sake of the hustle, then you probably  won’t reach success that’s fulfilling or sustainable long term.

Hustling for the wrong reasons is like hustling for a lottery ticket. You won’t even know that it’s going to work, and statistically it’s just more likely that you won’t win.

If you hustle for the right reasons though, you are not only more likely to come out on top but you’ll also more than likely be happy with the view.

When we grind for the good, we have our values, priorities, and goals clearly aligned and our hustle follows their lead. Which in turn let’s life put people and opportunities along our path that are a healthy match.

That’s really the key. Because the relationships that are built around our passions are what help us expand, reach new heights, and make a real difference.

It’s also why it’s so important that we grind for the right reasons and stay aware of ourselves and the impact that we want to make in the world before we go hustling our lives away working towards a thing we may not even want.


Effects Of An “Unbalanced” Grind

  • 1. Decreased Focus, Creativity, and Efficiency 
  • 2. Lack of Enjoyment or Fulfillment in Your work
  • 3. You Often Feel Insignificant When You Aren’t Working 
  • 4. Unclear Work & Life Boundaries
  • 5. Exhaustion and Inconsistent Sleep
  • 6. Inability to Prioritize Time For Yourself or Time With Others
  • 7. Can Lead to Chronic Health Conditions
  • 8. Can increase stress, anxiety, and depression

Advantages Of A “Balanced” Grind

  1. Welcoming to Healthier Relationships & Opportunities
  2. Evidence of Balanced Priorities and Time Management
  3. Improved Productivity, Innovation, and Creativity
  4. Less Frustrated, Stressed, and Irritable
  5. More Understanding and Patient
  6. Enhanced Mental & Physical Health
  7. More Comfortable Saying No or Taking Time Off
  8. Increased Priority to Self Care Activities 

Each person focuses, flows, and views success differently. So what is balanced to me may not feel balanced to you and that is okay.

Even though hustling is good and respectable, it’s even more important to learn how to develop a balanced and fulfilling hustle that enables you to work for your goals and even allows your goals to work for you too.

Achieving a work life balance doesn’t have to be so difficult to achieve. It just takes patience and time to understand yourself, in order to be confident to grind in accordance with your natural rhythms. 


5 Reminders for a Healthy Hustle

  • Always allow yourself time to rest and time to enjoy life as you hustle and grind. 
  • Ensure that you enjoy your time when you are grinding by grinding for the right reasons.
  • When we grind for the wrong reasons we risk burnout, unaligned choices, resentment, and regret.
  • Avoid burnout and confusion by being crystal clear and confident about why you are hustling in the first place.
  • Balance won’t look like a balanced scale all of the time and that’s okay. Follow your natural rhythm and find your own flow.

If we normalize and encourage a healthy hustle, we can continue to grow our capacity to do meaningful work, make stronger connections, and be more successful in our endeavors in the future.

How Our Values Shape our Business Relationships

When I think of business, I often think of the relationships that are built along the way.

Now, we all have had experiences with good and bad relationships and this absolutely applies to business too.

A+B= AB is like a relationship. 

You don’t get A+B=C, because two people are still two whole people, just paired together. We don’t morph and form one person, although that would be interesting.

Rather, we come together to form a union of two people that share things in common such as interests, passions, visions, aspirations, and values.

When things don’t add up correctly between two people, you will end up with an unbalanced relationship whether personal or professional. Sometimes when things really don’t align, and the difference is too different then the relationship becomes more effort than it may be worth.

So it’s helpful to understand that since we are each individuals that are whole and complete within our own selves that we each have the ability and freedom to change our minds and our lives. We should also remind ourselves that when someone changes that doesn’t make them a bad person, it just makes them a person.

As humans we evolve and grow continuously, and it’s healthy and natural for us to do so. We grow to have different interests, different opinions, and different beliefs as we move through life. Which makes it important to give each other the understanding and freedom to grow and change, and give ourselves approval to evolve as well.


So How Does This Apply to Business?

Business involves people.

Businesses are made by people, for people, and they are expanded through people.

So understanding how people operate within your business, and being intentional with the business relationships that you form can really impact your business and it’s future.

Our values say a lot about our character, and our character says everything about who we are. So if we are looking for a business partner for example, it’s important that their values are aligned with our own, because character counts especially in business.

If being prompt and on time is something that I value, then a potential partner should probably also value this, otherwise there may be conflict down the line. A simple core value misalignment could result in either individual becoming unsatisfied or frustrated, and even lead one individual to attempt to change the other individual which is nearly impossible and certainly not healthy.

If we want to ensure long term compatibility in our business relationships, we need to be clear on a few things first:

  1. Make sure your core values are in alignment
  2. Make sure there is a mutual understanding of each other’s individuality and individual power to evolve and change. While also keeping a safe environment for open communication and mutual respect.
  3. Create a Non-Formal (MOU) Memo of Understanding. This is a blueprint for your operating agreement. There is no real need to involve an attorney, this is simply a mutual understanding between you and your partner about intentions and expectations.

Determine Your Core Values

Core values are not a matter of convenience. They are a way of operating, and a compass to guide your decisions

Core values should be natural to you, and already exist within you. You just need to identify them.

Identify your core values by starting with:

  1. Things that irritate you
  2. Things that are pet peeves
  3. Things that you would never compromise on
  4. Things that are non-negotiables

We all have things that irritate us and get under our skin. We don’t often take the time to really analyze why that is though, or where it stems from. Oftentimes, these irritants are signaling that our core values are out of alignment. 

When we are experiencing irritation it could be a sign of some underlying things:

  1. We are avoiding our inner truth
  2. We are playing it safe, and staying within our zone of comfort
  3. We are relying too heavily on others 
  4. Our core values aren’t in alignment with someone or something in our life.
  5. Our core values are being challenged or conflicted  in some way.

When thinking about your core values, focus on what already exists within you. They should be natural to you and your experience. If they are not, then they are “aspirational values”, not core values.

There are also values that could be considered “foundational” values, like: trust, honesty, kindness, etc. They are more general and in some aspects, and should already be an integral part of everyone’s value system. 

These foundational values are also often referred to as “permission to play” values. They are still highly important and should always exist, but are more like bare minimum behavior standards as opposed to core values that would ideally be more challenging and expansive.

As we build more connections in life whether personal or professional, it is so important to already have your core values established. They tell a story of your existence, clarify your purpose, enhance your vision, and are an example of the kind of impact you want to make.

Don’t overlook the significance of investing even just a small amount of time on identifying your core values. Your life, business, and relationships will be so much better off because of it.


Do you have an established value system for your business or personal life? Share it with us, we would love to hear from you.

If you don’t have clear values for your business, reach out to us and we would be happy to connect with you and help you uncover them!


Sources:

Vicki Langford Director Project 3810

Concepts here are derived from this book.