What's the Motivation?


How does one work through real uncertainty or emotional uncertainty?


To figure this out, I reflected on a recent project at work. I was working on a new proposal for a new test machine. I had done a preliminary proposal with the customer a year prior. My team and I developed a concept but realized that we just didn't have enough information to have certainty that it would produce the solution. Not having certainty made going forward on a prototype was just too high of risk for both parties.


However, the value proposition of the better system was enough reason to move forward so we determined that we needed to gather more information. There was one key piece of information that would give us insight into the magnitude of the challenge we were dealing with. We all agreed that we should seek after this information and the tasks were set.


A few months later we finished out test and found our answer. What did we find out? The data from the test showed our challenge going to be smaller than our mathematical model showed. One would think that the immediate emotional response would be positive. However, that wasn't the case. When I heard the news I had an uneasy feeling. I shared the news with my co-worker, who also shared the same feeling. But what was it? We had gotten information to move forward but something else was going on.


We both agreed that we needed to think about it. I did some reflexive thought and did a Risk -- Reward analysis (Not Pros and Cause). I found out through that analysis, that I was afraid of stepping forward into the project. I no longer had major uncertainty road blocks in the way. Now I had to change my actions, I had to go forward. It was going to be hard work and require lots of time, but now I knew it was achievable.


I found this to be so analogous to our walk in the philosophical and theological. So often we encounter some challenge, or some uncertainty and don't move forward to solve it. I think often times, we don't realize the value proposition or don't have the objective framework to step into the hard work of solving issues, like the framework of business. Even when we do and we find that there really wasn't a problem or we came to a solution, we don't step into our new beliefs out of fear of change or stepping into something difficult. Here is where we need the help of others who have made that journey - namely God who willingly stepped into a brutal death, by carrying his cross.


Instead of using uncertainty and risk as a crutch for our agnosticism, let's use it to dive into things we don't know and challenge our own assumptions. 

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
— Minnie Louise Haskins

Written by Matthew Slama

Matthew Slama