How to be Successful in Life – Success Principle #9

Maximise your chances

I’ve covered a lot of ground in the last 8 articles covering the 10 Principles for Successful Living, so to maximise your chances of success I hope you have taken the time to read them so that you can create the life that you want and experience it the way you want.  To recap, click the links in the next section.

How to be Successful in Life – Success Principle #9 is all about Uncertainty.

Don’t let that scare you.  The most exhilarating things that I have done have been when I have been uncertain or fearful.  I did these things after 30 years (yes 30) of trying to convince myself that it wasn’t really a passion any more, or I didn’t need or want to do it now.  All fear and all generated by the mind.

Read on to learn about how letting go of control and embracing uncertainty can get you doing what you never thought possible.

The 10 Principles for Successful Living

What we’ve covered:

Principle Number 1:  Boundary Conditions

Principle Number 2:  Cause and Effect

Principle number 3:  What we focus on is what we get

Principle number 4:  The map is not the territory

Principle number 5:  There is No failure only feedback

Principle number 6:  Responsibility for change

Principle number 7:  Integrity and Intent

Principle number 8:  Curiosity is the key

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Principle number 9:  Embrace Uncertainty

Success principle number 9 is that we need to embrace uncertainty.

Now for most people this is difficult, if not impossible and the very idea evokes panic.

Many will never embrace uncertainty and won’t even entertain the idea.  Why?  Because most people like control, stability and certainty (all of which are illusions by the way) and uncertainty evokes fear.

But, to not embrace uncertainty means you will limit yourself and deny yourself what you can have and achieve and who you can be.  How many people stay in the same job that they hate for 20 + years through fear?

It’s important to know that we create fear in our minds and it’s important to know our minds so we can make whatever changes are necessary in how we think, what we do and who we are being.


Control isn’t where happiness is!

So far, we have spent a fair amount of time exploring how to be curiousThis will take courage on your part because you are going to need to be willing to go where you have never been before.

You are exploring your map and you are exploring the iceberg.

The more willing you are to experience uncertainty and embrace uncertainty and really enjoy it, the more willing you are going to be as a person to go beyond your comfort zone.

You will go outside your boundary conditions all of the time, because that will become your normal.

Now what an amazing place that is to play and you need to be willing to play. You need to be adventurous, to go where you don’t know the answers, to explore the unknown.  It is just being willing to ask the questions you have no idea about the answer of.

Be willing to embrace what you don’t know and sometimes that takes courage.

Sometimes that means if you want to move a boundary condition and move beyond the boundary condition, well guess what, you have got to be willing to go where you have not been before, you have got to be willing to stretch yourself.

The only thing that is certain in life, is that life is uncertain.

The only other thing to be certain of is yourself and what you are capable of and I would have to suggest that that is uncertain to, because to me it is an ever-expanding world of potential.

So really, the only thing you can really be certain of is uncertainty.  Now given that is a truth, why on earth would you spend all your time trying to control everything?

When peoples say “if I could just control everything then I will be ok”, they won’t be.  It just won’t happen that way.  There will never come a time when you can control everything around you until you are dead.  Life is in flux.  Life has a way of delivering surprises.  The surprises are a given, they are built into life.

Imagine my arm going out to the right and let’s just say that’s where control lies and I point straight ahead and say, that’s were happiness lies, which would you choose?

Now, people aren’t aware that there is a difference.  They think by control they will get happy.

It comes as a little bit of a shock when they discover that the two of them are mutually independent.

The fact is, the more that you focus on control and try and control everything around you, the less time you are spending on resourcefulness, on accepting, on learning, on growing.

If you are trying to control what you have, that means you can only deal with what you have.  Because the moment something new comes into the equation, you then have to try and control that.

So, the moment you have control, what you really have is total certainty.  Your boundary conditions are set and that is not the definition of happiness.

If you define happiness as learning, growing and exploring, then happiness and control are mutually exclusive.  You can’t have both, so which one are you going to choose?

If you are going to choose happiness, what do you need to release, what do you need to let go of?  It’s a question worth asking.

So, if you feel out of control, ask yourself how do I do that (refer to previous articles), or whatever the question is.

Get curious to know what it is about control that you think is so important and invariably it becomes that you feel safe.

Invariably when somebody wants to stay within their comfort zone, they want to feel safe because they think if they feel comfortable they will be happy.

But you can feel a sense of, ‘I wonder what will be next?’ and be incredibly happy.


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Stepping Up

The Buddhist have a saying that the definition of suffering is in expectation.

Now immediately you might be thinking, well hang on, that means I will never have any goals.

No, I’m not saying that.

Have goals, have outcomes that you want to achieve, get the feedback from the environment and change and be behaviourally flexible.

That is, apply everything we have been exploring till now, but then remember, every time you have an expectation that isn’t met, there is a possibility or the potential for suffering, for pain, for disappointment, for a feeling of let-down, whatever it is to you, however you choose to do it or there is an alternative.

Knowing that, break the negative pattern.  Know that by embracing uncertainty, by setting an outcome into your future and going for it, playing at 100% and then by being willing to say, but I am still willing to accept the outcomes that turn up and embrace them and ask myself ‘how can I improve on that’, that is to let go of suffering.

What you are doing is resetting your goals or your outcomes at higher and higher standards and you are stepping up constantly.

Now, along the way does that mean you are not going to be disappointed.  Of course not. It’s part of the human condition to experience as many emotional states as we choose to.

We can probably all remember going for a goal and really wanting it and having an expectation of getting it and not getting it and can remember the disappointment.  We had done the Buddhist definition of suffering – I had an expectation that hadn’t been met.

But what you can do is see it as an opportunity to learn and accept that life will turn up these surprises.

Are you the person that is going to be capable of dealing with them in a resourceful way?

If you choose yes, that is an empowering belief to have.

Out of the Cocoon

To move out of your comfort zone, to do things differently, to do what you never dared do before can create amazing experiences, opportunities, achievements and successes in ways that are meaningful to you.

Remember, there is no butterfly unless there is transformation and it breaks free of the cocoon.

Discover what beliefs you may have that are holding you back.

Any comments or feedback on this article are greatly appreciated.  We are on the home stretch.  Subscribe so you don’t miss Success Principle #10

Until next time!


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  • Shaun

    Hi Martine,

    Loved reading your post and I love how you can easily click on highlighted text and open another Success Principle article easily within your site.

    Also, great pics perfectly set out on the page.

    Love it


  • Prav

    Loving this series 🙂 Very nicely put. I wish I could implement the entire series in my life. Sometimes things look so simple yet we find it difficult to implement. I am no exception, but I am gonna try my best to implement these principles in my life from now on.

    • Martine Brooks

      Thanks for your comment Prav. To manage getting overwhelmed, start with one Success Principle and just focus on that for a week or so. When we find things difficult we need to start looking at our thoughts and language around it – what are we ‘doing’ to make it difficult i.e. how do we ‘do’ difficult. I’ve written how we do certain emotions across these articles. Hope it helps. Martine

  • Deb hilton

    Another great post. This one really got me thinking. I am at that stage of shall I go for a new job which feels very uncomfortable or stay in my current position of working nights. Although I love my job it compromises my health. After reading your post I feel that I should at least explore other opportunities, there may be something amazing out there just waiting for me. Thank you!

    • Martine Brooks

      Definitely do that. Explore beyond your current map of the world. See if you can put in to language how you want it to be. Use language like “I would like to work 3 days per week and earn an income of……(which could be what you might earn working 5 days a week but you do it in 3)” rather than “I don’t want x”. The subconscious doesn’t recognise the qualifiers i.e. the word ‘don’t. It’s actually also helpful to speak and think as if you have it now e.g. I have a great position in a supportive team that xxxx”. Be really specific. There is a saying that we have to be careful about what we ask for because we just might get it. That sounds a little fearful to me so I like to think we just need to be clear and specific. Good luck. Would love to hear how things unfold for you Deb.

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