Creative Strategy
March 2, 2021

Why is the unknown scary?

Open Reference

Asking why the unknown is scary feels a little like asking why snakes are scary.

For many, the unknown future outcomes of life bring with it the fear that things will be worse, that what's good will come to an end, and what we dream of will not be realized. And yet, in matters of time (us passing through it), we have no choice about whether we move into the unknown. Instead, we can choose to push back and try to hold on to what we have or embrace the process of not knowing.

At some point in my design career, I learned that it's always better to embrace change quickly so you can find what's good in it or be part of forming what's new.

In design, the unknown is the starting point.

The most exciting projects and products often start with a disclaimer, "I want to make this, but I don't know if it will work."  

The unknown is not a fear of what's not known; it's a fear that what we discover will harm us or let us down.

Creative leaders learn that part of the design process is moving into unknown spaces so that you can shape what it becomes.

To embrace the unknown is not to be passive and accepting of not having control;  it's an opportunity to inquire deeply, take on the beginners' mind, and explore what's possible.

We don't have to stop fearing the unknown, but it's helpful to see it as only the starting point. In projects, we shape it; and in life, the unknown is renewed daily.

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