The Uncertainty Mindset 2019-2020

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negative capability

Vaughn Tan4th January 2021 at 11:25am

Used by John Keats to describe how William Shakespeare was a great thinker because he was “capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason” [link]—though teams and organizations can have it too.

Negative capability is related to the uncertainty mindset, which requires the ability to acknowledge uncertainty and be able to take action nonetheless. It's useful in times of uncertainty because it confers resilience and makes productive discomfort easier. Unfortunately, most modern education is spectacularly bad at developing negative capability in students.

See also: ambient uncertainty, comfort, forcing function, freedom, knowability, not-knowing, open-endedness, risk vs. uncertainty, self-therapy, stacking the deck, strategy, surprise and delight, the work of uncertainty.