We as rational, logical adults tend to avoid confusion. It seem like the right thing to do but if your objective is to gain clarity, resolve a conflict, come up with an innovative solution or just to be able to think through something in a critical way you need to embrace confusion.
If you’re spending time thinking about something that’s important and you aren’t comfortable being confused you will often stay in your comfort zone and rely on your past experiences to help you gain the insight or clarity that you’re seeking. In many instances that’s perfectly reasonable. If you’ve got deep technical experience that’s relative to the issue or if it’s a recurring situation that you’ve resolved successfully in the past you may not need to allow yourself to learn from the confusion. That being said in today’s fast moving marketplace very few of us are able to continue to move forward effectively by only relying on our past experience. We need to be creative, we need to innovate and we are dealing with issues that are new, and unfamiliar.
Confusion is actually a powerful and effective tool yet one many of us avoid at all costs. Why? It’s can be scary, it makes you uncomfortable and it requires a significant amount of mental energy to allow yourself to remain confused long enough for it to have an impact. We are wired for “fight or flight”, to make split second decisions that can mean the difference between surviving or being eaten by a bear. If you can overpower your brains hard wired instinct to resolve the confusion quickly you will make more creative and innovative decisions.
When you allow yourself to be confused you become far more introspective; you gain the clarity you desire by questioning and reconciling a variety of ideas and alternatives that may feel overwhelming. Some of the ideas or options may appear to be contradictory at first blush. However by asking questions and being inquisitive even when you need to force yourself to do so you’ll be surprised at the innovative outcomes that are a result of embracing the confusion.
So here’s my suggestion, at some point in the next day or two take a step back when figuring out something and force yourself to allow the confusion that you are fighting to do what it is capable of. Once you overcome the urge to rush through it you’ll realize that it is an incredible way to achieve clarity.