Certainty Eliminates It

“The future is uncertain — but its uncertainty is at the very heart of creativity.” 

~ Ilya Prigogine

To be creative is to have the ability to create, to cause something to exist; it is an art. To be uncertain is to not be sure, to be open to change. Therefore, it seems you need to be uncertain to be creative. Creativity requires change; change requires uncertainty. Uncertainty results in open-mindedness. I have been writing forever about change, creativity, uncertainty and open-mindedness.

James Adams, in his book, The Care and Feeding of Ideas: A Guide to Encouraging Creativity (1986), says creativity and change are two sides of the same coin.

“They are often linked, in that creativity is needed to respond successfully to change and creativity, in turn, results in change. Creativity and change both imply new directions. They are both associated with uncertainty.”

Decision making is, of course, about uncertainty, creativity, open-mindedness — and about change. When deciding what to do, you are deciding about your future. Your future doesn’t exist and it is unpredictable, so it is uncertain; it needs to be created. You have two choices: create it or let someone else create it. 

In 1991 I published my book, Creative Decision Making Using Positive Uncertainty. It was later revised in 2003, with my wife Carol Gelatt as coauthor.Since then, author Sheena Iyengar went one step further in describing creative decision making. “Science can assist us in becoming more skillful choosers, but at its core, choice remains an art,” The Art of Choosing, 2010. I would add, a “creative art.” 

This is why open-mindedness is an essential skill. An open mind is a beginner’s mind. “A beginner’s mind is a mind that is willing to see everything as if for the first time,” Zen saying. The beginner’s mind is what Zen practitioners use when describing the notion that learning requires an empty cup. When full of what you already know it is hard to acquire new knowledge. A beginner’s mind is trying to discover its ignorance, not to disguise it. This empty cup, beginner’s mind idea is like being child-like. Children don’t know a lot so they learn a lot. They have a beginner’s mind.

You might try thinking like a child. A child hasn’t yet learned rational, adult thinking. Almost all creative thinking techniques, brainstorming for example, involve the abandonment of rational, logical thinking. 

“An open, beginner’s mind allows us to be receptive to new intelligent thinking processes possibilities and prevents us from getting stuck in the rut of our own expertise, which often thinks it knows more than it does.”

~ Jon Kabat Zinn

This entry was posted in Beliefs and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Marianne Fontana says:

    Seems as if the older I get, the more like a beginner’s mind I have. I think I am going backward or times are changing so fast, one doesn’t know any of the new life truths.

  2. EUGENE UNGER says:

    Hi H !! Good to read your work! Enjoyed it. Hi to carol friend Gene.

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. hbgelatt says:

    Thanks Gene for the positive comment. Carol and I went to Filoli yesterday. Lots of people but
    masks and social distancing. Beautiful

    Hi to Rose, H B

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.