Neuroscience research has shown our brains crave certainty. We want to know what lies ahead. When there is ambiguity or uncertainty, an error response alerts the brain to pay more attention, arouses our limbic system and lights up the amygdale.

Our need for certainty can lead to fixed, rigid thinking. We tighten our focus and narrow our field of vision, like looking through a straw. We can drive right by innovation, creativity, and change. We can try to look beyond the present and see too far down the road. We miss new ideas, seeing possibilities, exploring options, and discovering fresh new solutions. We can even miss new relationships, beauty all around us, amazing sunsets, and other miracles throughout the day.

Our desire for absolute certainty can become a need to be darn right with adamant opinions and inflexible stances. If we think we have it all figured out, we’re right. We close our minds to new learning. We close ourselves off to alternative points of view. We may limit ourselves to forced choices of absolute, polar opposite “either/or” positions when often there are “both/and” options. Faith and Reason are not natural “either/or” opponents, this is a false binary dichotomy because of our need for certainty.

Dr. Brené Brown shares some guidepost behaviors, actions, and choices we can make for wholehearted living in “The Gifts of Imperfection”. One of these guideposts is cultivating intuition and trusting faith and letting go of the need for certainty. Tapping into our intuition and trusting faith enables us to sense our big picture purpose and that we’re heading in the right direction, aiming for the light toward the emerging future without knowing the outcome.

The ability to sit and not know is a superpower. We need to slow down, even stop to turn off that striving, driving machine, and deeply listen. Deep listening requires creating mental and physical space to just be quiet. Intentionally pausing to disrupt the flow of the breakneck pace. It is being present and mindful despite a mountain of tasks awaiting your attention.

Absolute certainty is an oxymoron. No matter how carefully planned, reality never really conforms well to the plan. Deep listening opens us to receive fresh insights as we face new challenges, situations, and circumstances. We see possibilities, more innovative and creative responses, discover new solutions, tap into our intuition for input and decision making, and allow our inner knowing to emerge.

Silence and solitude time is important, non-negotiable space. Deep listening requires consistency. It is disciplined, daily work. A leader of a global, complex, multi-billion dollar company has a daily practice that enables her to stay connected with her intuition and manage her very full day, focused and fulfilled. The first thing she does each morning is spend quiet time centering on her four big picture objectives, and specific actions she will accomplish by the end of the day ahead. It is “against the law” for anyone to disturb her for the first half hour when she arrives in the office!

Deep listening leads to being authentic, present and more sensitive to our inner compass. It provides illuminating moments, deeper thinking from the heart rather than surface thinking, and direction that guides everything we do. We’re more resilient and aware of our triggers, enabling us to strengthen ourselves and not be thrown or give power away. Accepting that we don’t know what we don’t know, and acknowledging that’s OK, enables us to be more confident, bold and courageous in showing up, being seen, and living brave.

To learn more about the guideposts for wholehearted living, read Brené Brown’s books Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection, or come experience them applied in leadership in my Daring Leadership™ retreat May 15-17, 2015, a highly experiential methodology based on the research of Brené Brown to help leaders learn how to show up, be seen, and live braver lives. For more information visit