Creating Social Value Blog / Social Innovation

Becoming Comfortable with Ambiguity

By Lauren Mariano ‘19.

When I first began interning at The Lewis Institute, Emily Weiner, The Associate Director of The Lewis Institute and Babson Social Innovation Lab, said that part of the working culture is “being comfortable with ambiguity.” Upon hearing that, I was nervously excited. Before coming to Babson as a GAP student in the Spring of 2016, that was essentially my mantra. For nearly my entire life, I’ve had trouble relinquishing control, whether it be working in teams or trusting the college admissions process. Having a sense of control was comforting to me and it was something I craved. Obviously, that is an unsustainable way of thinking because nothing in life is certain. Over the past year, I’ve experienced a multitude of moments that have allowed me to become more comfortable with ambiguity. However, I can pinpoint one event that encouraged this mindset even further.

Thanks to The Lewis Institute and Sundial Brands, I had the incredible opportunity to represent Babson at Mack Elevation’s “Growth Summit: Ideas That Matter.” It was a day full of learning, as we heard from executives across the retail and healthcare industry speak on thought leadership and value creation, concepts I had recently become familiar with through Babson’s first-year course, Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME). Overall, the experience was extremely thought provoking, and stimulating, and allowed me to appreciate Babson in a different way.

Dan Mack, a specialist in business development and founder of The Mack Elevation Forum, moderated the event. As I sat in the audience eager to learn, he shared some insights on the topic of uncertainty that really resonated with me. During an engaging talk called “The New Rules of Value Creation,” Mr. Mack hooked the audience immediately after by stating, “I’m really uncomfortable right now…I’m really uncomfortable because I’m listening to all these things that I am not doing.” He referred to the social pressures of the day having to be good at everything, to know everything. Ultimately, that is an unrealistic expectation. He went on,“ As a society, we crave certainty, but I encourage you all to be uncomfortable today because that is when real learning can be done.” For someone who takes comfort in the plan and certainty, these insights reinforced the need to change. It allowed me to deconstruct the deep-seated notions I held for so long.

As my journey continues, I hope to not only be comfortable with ambiguity, but to embrace it. Especially at a place like Babson, teeming with opportunity, people and experiences will surprise you. I encourage you to take on this mindset, as it will foster a sense of growth for years to come.