A way to embrace uncertainty

I spent the weekend at the annual Wisdom 2.0 Conference, which looks at the role of mindfulness in the digital age.

One of the most powerful sessions I attended was a breakout on discomfort as a path to innovation. Facilitator J. Miakoda Taylor had us each identify an issue at the edge of our comfort zone. Then, working in pairs, we asked questions of ourselves and each other using the following process:

  • Notice and name a physical sensation. (This gets us grounded, and out of our habitual mental grooves. Any sensation will work—mine was a chill in my back.)
  • Ask a question out loud about the challenging issue we’d selected, and resist the urge to answer it—just ask without the expectation of an answer.
  • Give the other person a turn to ask a question about the same issue, again without answering.
  • Feel the impact of the other person’s words.
  • Continue taking turns asking a question, each time tuning in to a physical sensation before speaking.

The issue I chose had to do with a complex project I’ve taken on that involves developing new skills. Some surprising and provocative questions bubbled up as I worked with my partner, such as “How does the team want to transform?”

Freed of the pressure to problem-solve, I could let those questions reverberate, inviting me to explore more deeply. I got the sense that continuing to ask questions, rather than provide answers, might be one of the most helpful contributions I can make in this new role.



  1. Janet, I also went to this workshop and found it completely refreshing. I appreciate your summary, as I hadn’t stopped to capture what the exercise was. I was just on line looking into Fierce Allies, when I cam across your blog. I plan on using this exercise in my coaching groups.

  2. Janet Bailey says:

    @Pat – I’m glad the session resonated with you too, and that the summary was helpful. Using the exercise in coaching groups sounds like a great idea.

  3. Andrea says:

    I just discovered your blog as I would like to manage my time more mindfully so great to have found you love your posts will keep reading more.

  4. Janet Bailey says:

    @Andrea – Thanks, glad you’re here!

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