The Uncertainty of Exploration



True exploration is painful and difficult. What’s more, when it’s truly exploration you rarely know what’s going on because what you’re experiencing is new and uncharted.

We like the drawings of Lewis and Clark in their canoes, confidently forging toward the Rockies. We hear stories of celebration when explorers reach the destination they longed to find.

What we don’t often see in the famous drawings is their fear of the journey. We don’t often hear about the times they wondered if they were crazy, foolish or faithless.

During those times I feel alone. All I feel is that everything that I knew to be true seems to be not true anymore. The ground that I’m stepping on does not feel like it’s there. And if it is there, it is shaky.

You know you’re truly exploring when you look to the horizon and all you see is an abyss, because what you’re seeing doesn’t make sense....yet.

The last few months I’ve been walking into new spaces as I pursue new ideas. The ideas are good— or at least I think they are— but I am walking into spaces that I have not explored before.

There are times that I feel anxious, there are times that I feel ecstatic, there are times that as I look out, all I see is confusion and unknown. At the same time I have a confidence that what I am pursuing is correct, even though the picture and the steps forward are not clear yet.

This unknown is the realm of the explorer. Explorers take on situations that are beyond the status quo. In this pursuit, two important skills are needed. The first is the ability to see something that is not there yet. Some call that vision and others call it potential.

The second skill is being able to handle the reality of not knowing what your next step looks like, or even how to take it.

For explorers, the hunt to see beyond is exhilarating. However, the actual experience may not be as comforting. Embracing this uncertainty is very hard to sell others on. Just the sound of it sounds unsafe and uncontrolled. Why would anyone embrace that?

The takeaway is this. Exploring means moving beyond the status quo. The reality of a “beyond experience” creates discomfort. Those who create change are the ones willing to live in and excel with a discomfort that lasts for a short season yet holds the potential for a brighter tomorrow.


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