Ambiguity Anxiety (And How to Kill it)

Discomfort is a way of growth, and there’s one thing that makes me extremely uncomfortable: ambiguity.

School is easy. You go to class, take notes, do your homework, study your test reviews, and ace your tests. Progression is linear. You go from grade 1-12 and to college and beyond. It’s a system that conditions us to become used to clarity. You eat X calories, Y protein, and work out Z times a week for gains.

Many times in the real world, things are not as clear cut. When you put $10K of your own money into starting a business, it’ll sink, break even, or swim. There is no linear set of progression-based actions you can take to guarantee success. In a way it’s scary. It’s scary for me in particular because I’m not exactly working with alot of money here. One wrong move will set me back 2-3 years.

When you tell yourself you want to be an actor, painter, or a singer, there is no guarantee of success either (as is the case in many right-brained careers). I wonder at times how people in that position deal with uncertainty.

The other day, I read an article about the record-shattering movie Wonder Woman’s lead actress, Gal Gadot. Before she got the role, she was about to quit acting for good. But because she didn’t, she’ll now have a ticket to a lucrative 7-9 figure career. For every Gal Gadot, Kevin Hart, and Michael Jackson, there must be hundreds of thousands of rejects, people who weren’t good enough, and those who up and quit. The entertainment industry is brutal.

My theater coach used to tell me you’re going to hear one hundred no’s before you hear a yes.

Well I left the stage a while ago, so while I can’t say much about acting, I can relate a quote that I heard from a sales manager at my company.

“Out of 100 leads, maybe 2-3 will have pipeline potential, and maybe one will be closed.”

While anecdotal quotations don’t have much data-based backing, we see similar concepts in that creating luck by grinding out every opportunity could potentially be a common theme in success.

I looked at some online dice-rolling calculations to see what my odds of success at an audition or a sales call would be, assuming everything else was equal.


If I had competent salesmanship/acting ability, and I went to 50 auditions, then according to my mentors, I would have a 30% chance of landing a role or a sale, and 7% chance of landing two. (30% chance of winning is better odds than Conor Macgregor had against Floyd, in my opinion, so not bad at all!) If I tried 100 times, the odds of success would increase even more!

Repetition is key. Keep grinding and don’t think about it (too much).

Maybe I’m on to something! Maybe ambiguity of any subject gets worn down by hard work.

Ambiguous on cryptocurrencies? The more Googling/Research/Youtube explanations you look at, the clearer it will be.

Ambiguous on when your next sale will be? The more calls you make the higher chances you have.

Ambiguous on whether you’ll land a role/job? The more auditions/interviews you go to, the higher your chances become.

Well, this is assuming you’re competent.

(Vegas Tip: Most people aren’t.) 

Author: Wayne

Aspiring overachiever.

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