WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: The Upside of Uncertainty by Nathan Furr and Susannah Harmon Furr

In my book Conflict Coaching Fundamentals: Working with conflict stories, I explain how one of the important shifts that people need to make in order to develop a constructive mindset towards conflict is the shift from certainty to uncertainty. The challenge is that uncertainty is an uncomfortable place to be, and certainty is comfortable, even when it’s unhelpful.

This book is all about the upside of uncertainty, and it contains many exercises and useful questions for reflection to help you find the benefits of uncertainty. The goal is to go beyond resilience to what the authors call “transilience” – where we learn and grow through the challenges of uncertainty.

These activities and questions are also great for coaches to add to their toolkits for clients who are facing the challenges of uncertainty (whether conflict related or in some other context).

The authors introduce four stages of working with uncertainty – reframe, prime, do and sustain. Reframe tools help you to shift your perspective to find the possibilities and upsides that you might not otherwise notice. Prime tools prepare you to be able to work though uncertainty when it inevitably arises. Do tools help you manage the uncertainty when it occurs and turn those possibilities into ways to promote your desired future. Sustain tools help you keep going and to pivot when things don’t go to plan.

Within each category the authors provide a range of tools. These include tools with names that immediately caught my attention, like “Adjacent possible”, “Reverse insurance” and Dumbo feathers”.

The authors acknowledge that uncertainty’s downsides can be intense, and that this can often obstruct our view of what’s possible. The book provides a comprehensive range of strategies to increase your changes of finding an upside in the uncertainties you are sure to face in your life.

The only criticism I have is that there is just so much in the book, it can be a bit overwhelming. My notes about the activities and suggested reflective questions go for pages and pages! I think this is a book I will return to again and again whenever I, or one of my clients, is facing uncertainty.

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