Uncertainty and personal development

Uncertainty and personal development

Jon Echanove (AoEC China)


Uncertainty has most frequently been associated with either the lack of complete information (or therefore lack of predictability) or as a driver for anxiety when referring to the individual experience of it. Meanwhile the former states that rational uncertainty is a consequence of our cognitive system and cannot be fully eliminated, the later has mainly focused on the human need to decrease uncertainty as a mean to well-being. Acknowledging that both capture part of the truth; on the one hand uncertainty is unavoidable and on the other hand that less uncertainty may offer more psychological comfort implies that human beings are thrown into a permanent struggle of wanting to be certain but not being able to guarantee that needed certainty.

However, the ability to embrace the unknown is a basic requirement for discovery and novelty. Uncertainty, from this perspective, is not only unavoidable but a source for learning and self-fulfilment. In this sense the hypothesis of this seminar is that anxiety is not the result of uncertainty. On the contrary it is anxiety which results in a negative experience of uncertainty; or curiosity which results in a positive experience of uncertainty. This individual appraisal is defined by three interrelated factors: the perceived level of uncertainty, the individual perceived competence and the novelty of the challenges faced.

Organisations are turning their eyes to coaching as the main tool for personal development. The identification and transformation of the individual appraisal to uncertainty is one of the sources to bring balance to managers in their leadership role.

Keywords: uncertainty, anxiety, curiosity, change, challenge, coaching


About the speaker:

Spanish by birth, settled in Belgium and married to a Chinese national, Jon Echanove has developed most of his professional management career under the umbrella of the European Commission, supporting and developing cooperation with non-European countries in the fields of industrial and trade policies. Over the years he has developed an outstanding record in building multicultural teams and implementing international cooperation and negotiation.

Jon is currently a member of ECCO, the Evolution, Complexity and Cognition group at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), conducting research on leadership and human experience in complex, uncertain environments.

As Managing Director of the AoEC China, Jon specialises in the development of executive coaches and in relational coaching in multicultural environments, supported by an ICF/EMCC accredited Advanced Executive Coaching Diploma from the Academy of Executive Coaching (AoEC).