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Embracing Uncertainty, Detecting Bias, & Balancing Vision/Work

Resource: Live the Questions: Rilke on Embracing Uncertainty and Doubt as a Stabilizing Force


Learn to live with questions. Uncertainty isn’t a bad thing and some of the best answers are the ones that take time. Rather than forcing yourself to have an answer, allow yourself to become the kind of person who is able to receive the answer when it eventually arrives.

Doubt is your ally. Instead of trying to make it go away, let it purify you from bad answers and let it protect you from bad logic.


On learning to live with your questions:

“I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

On the value of doubt:

“Your doubt may become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become critical. Ask it, whenever it wants to spoil something for you, why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find it perplexed and embarrassed perhaps, or perhaps rebellious. But don’t give in, insist on arguments and act this way, watchful and consistent, every single time, and the day will arrive when from a destroyer it will become one of your best workers — perhaps the cleverest of all that are building at your life.”

Resource: A Way to Detect Bias


Bias can be detected among application processes by examining certain trends in the performance of those who are selected.


“How does it work? Think about what it means to be biased. What it means for a selection process to be biased against applicants of type x is that it’s harder for them to make it through. Which means applicants of type x have to be better to get selected than applicants not of type x. [1] Which means applicants of type x who do make it through the selection process will outperform other successful applicants. And if the performance of all the successful applicants is measured, you’ll know if they do.”

“Of course, the test you use to measure performance must be a valid one. And in particular it must not be invalidated by the bias you’re trying to measure. But there are some domains where performance can be measured, and in those detecting bias is straightforward. Want to know if the selection process was biased against some type of applicant? Check whether they outperform the others. This is not just a heuristic for detecting bias. It’s what bias means.”

“For example, many suspect that venture capital firms are biased against female founders. This would be easy to detect: among their portfolio companies, do startups with female founders outperform those without? A couple months ago, one VC firm (almost certainly unintentionally) published a study showing bias of this type. First Round Capital found that among its portfolio companies, startups with female founders outperformed those without by 63%. [2]”

“I predict we’ll see this technique used more in the future. The information needed to conduct such studies is increasingly available. Data about who applies for things is usually closely guarded by the organizations selecting them, but nowadays data about who gets selected is often publicly available to anyone who takes the trouble to aggregate it. ”

Resource: Getting Things Done by David Allen


Without vision, we’re left with nothing but mundane and meaningless work. Without work, we’re left with nothing more than wishful thinking and unharnesses creative impulses.

When you manage your self well, your organization will follow.

GTD is not just a path for increased effectiveness, it’s a path for self-empowerment.


“A vision without a task is but a dream; a task without a vision is but drudgery; a vision and a task is the hope of the world.” —From a church in Sussex, England, ca. 1730

“Empowerment naturally ensues for individuals as they move from complaining and victim modalities into outcomes and actions defined for direction.”

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