Thoughts on How to Navigate Uncharted Waters and Uncertain Times.

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
4 min read
Photo by Matthieu Da Cruz on Unsplash

We, all of us collectively, are confronting a sea of difficulties and charged with navigating uncharted waters.

These are uncertain times. By nature, we are ill-suited to uncertainty.

Mark Twain said, “I have seen many worries in my life, most of which never happened.” We are prone to worry. It’s baked in as a survival mechanism.

We use our imagination to project into the future and analyze possible scenarios. Scenario planning helps us prepare for contingencies. Our imaginations can also paralyze us with panic.

Leadership is like sailing. It’s navigating your team through treacherous waters, around jagged rocks, to the desired destination, and making sure folks feel nourished and rested along the way.

Sometimes the team is you alone. Leadership skills still apply.

I am working to be mindful and not act out of fear. We need to control our minds and not let them run rampant into dark places that end up freaking us out.

The mind can be like a spider that, if we allow it, will spin webs and twist everything together into a confused mass. We then end up blaming the caught up things for the web we created and want to be free of.

We kill the things we love and then sing about our grief. The time for smug cynicism has passed.

The situation we find ourselves in may be novel, but ways of dealing with it are ancient.

Stoic philosophy is all about not worrying about the future or regretting the past. Stoicism is about living in the present and acting with grace and calm.

Hemingway called courage: grace under pressure.

I may wish to be free from illness, but if the time comes for me to suffer it, I want to bear it courageously and honorably. I don’t wish for a more comfortable life, but for the strength to nobly endure the experiences presented to me.

The burdens placed on our shoulders will help us fulfill our destiny. The only way to bear our charges is to live life in a way that meets our fate. I wish to embrace and love my fate, whatever the outcome.

I don’t seek suffering, but I won’t shy from it. If it arrives on my doorstep, the bringer will find me at home.

Life is neither suffering nor pleasure. Life is the business we must honestly confront and do. Focus on the tasks at hand. Be useful.

I’m striving to act with intention so as not to do anything rash or dishonorable. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. One thing done in peace is better than a dozen done in panic.

Meditation and mindfulness are also practices to help us be here now. I’m committed to meditating every day.

Keep calm and carry on is good advice. Work when there is work to do and rest when you tire. Feed your inner life and avoid noise. Read good books and listen to music. Write your thoughts.

Read poetry. Dream of love, professional success, and other pleasant reveries.

We move towards what we picture in our minds.

Think about that big task you always planned to undertake. Limitations aid creativity.

Blaise Pascal said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Find the peaceful and less busy retreat within yourself. Make the most of what is already at hand.

This unprecedented time is an opportunity, an invitation, to get to know ourselves. Revisit your life, examine your memories, and absorb your experiences. The juice will be worth the squeeze.

We will soon enough emerge from our confinement. We can treat this time as a chrysalis. We can emerge a more complete, courageous and imaginative version of the person we knew how to be before.

Every person’s condition is a solution in hieroglyphic to those inquiries they would put. We act it as life, before we apprehend it as truth.


Life is a process of confronting a fraught silence. We get the test before we apprehend the lesson.

We can sharpen our senses and appreciate what has always been right there before us.

Our liberty may be modestly curtailed, but not our pursuit of happiness. The world is full of magic awaiting our sense to become sharper so it can reveal itself.

Events will be good, or they will pass. Worrying will not help. Be yourself only better. From my heart, I wish you well.

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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