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Universal Wisdom by Raavn

The Pandemic of “uncertain”

RantOpinion / 03.07.2020 / 6 min read

“We are living in uncertain times”

It’s 4 am, my bus is docking at the main station. After a week-long meditative/mindful/party bender I’m finally back in Prague. Everything is quiet while I’m walking home. I’m setting my alarm clock for 9:30 to make it to breakfast with my boss just in time. I only have a hunch what he wants to talk about. And I know for sure I want to tell him I want to quit.

It’s early March 2020. The world starts to wake up every day to check on the rising number of COVID-19 victims. And while I receive an opportunity to choose to do whatever project to benefit my company, I am choosing to leave. I have a dozen practical reasons to do so and I could eventually stay and fix every single one of them. But I cannot fix my gut feeling. While others start to panic and try to desperately hold on to every possible day of income, I’m choosing to work my ass off to be able to leave even sooner than my agreed notice period. I feel for everybody who got hurt by the pandemic. But for me, it is going to become an unexpected bliss.

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Challenging? Yes. Uncertain? Maybe in your head

I used to work in the insurance industry for a couple of months in the past. I worked on the “good” side of it (meaning, I worked in innovations that would make all the personal insurance agents obsolete - the ones that do it for profit, not for your well-being), yet I learned that this is a very fear-driven industry. An industry that turns the feeling of your uncertainty into money.

It’s only natural that I feel worried about ads containing “We are living in uncertain times”. And it’s about half of the ads I get served on Instagram nowadays that has this magic phrase. They are usually related to music and they are usually there to try to leverage the fear of people into taking the “magic pill” they are selling, now with a discounted rate of 90%. I feel like a kitten dies each time I see one of them. I don’t report them, because hey, each time I see that ad I am saving someone else into being baited. What is wrong with those ads, you ask? Having new ads like these crop up every day gives me the assumption they work. This would mean that at least musicians are heavily adopting uncertainty as a mindset. And this is scary.

As a musician, you have a set of very unique skills that will always be appreciated no matter what the circumstances. By giving in to your fears, you are possibly falling victim to someone who has no clue about that. And to someone who might have only one skill: manipulative marketing.

So the key question here: How would you define uncertain times nowadays? If you are like me 10 years ago, your biggest problems are financial. Thus, I feel I can safely assume that your uncertainty is mostly financial. Who was me 10 years ago? What I thought I am was a poor raver who makes barely enough money to get by from paycheck to paycheck. I was making just enough money to pay rent. Or at least that’s what I thought. In reality, I was heavily underpaid in my day to day job, was renting an apartment I wasn’t able to afford, and partying 5 days a week to escape the stress all of it brought. Most of the people I knew back in those days were in that same situation so I thought this is a default thing. I don’t want to go into details on how I discovered the power of creating a spreadsheet, listing all my expenses and income, and being surprised.

I rather want to tell you about me in early April 2020, when I woke up on day #1 of being unemployed. But first, a nasty question for you: what would you do? You wake up at noon without a bitchy alarm clock. You have an empty calendar. Your ex-boss wants to ask you that small question about that thing nobody knows how to do, even promises that it is for the last time, and you know you have no obligation to answer. What would you do? Pause here, and answer for yourself.

The first thing I wanted to do was to open job boards and start looking at what’s open. As an IT guy, there should still be very little worries, right? What I decided to do instead is to reflect, and it was by far the most useful thing I did during this pandemic. My past jobs were mostly short term things lasting between 9 months and 2 years. The reason for that was most probably the fact I could get a job offer within a week of leaving a company any time (and taking the first one that comes along, then being disappointed later). This was part one of my reflection. For part two, I asked myself: what do I want and why didn’t I get it so far? And the answer was “a place where I could have enough motivation and challenges to stay”. I also have listed things I felt I was good at. Music, programming, management. Utter bullshit. I read up on intellectual capital a little bit more, and attempted to compile a list for the second time. It was as much eye-opening as at the time when I started to look at my spending in a spreadsheet.

When I say that as a musician you have a set of very unique skills, I mean things like:

  • you are able to hear harmonies
  • you are able to direct emotion
  • you are able to see the big picture (not just one bar of music, but a whole song, a whole set...)
  • you are able to hear things none else can
  • ...

Suddenly, you can transform from an unemployed DJ into a possible psychologist, manager, thinker, and many more. This is a fun way to minimize your feeling of uncertainty. Try it!

Note: I had a buffer of 3-months of expenses in cash. You could call it cheating because you might not have one. I call it being responsible.

Let’s dive one bit deeper into the mindset of uncertainty. What opposes it? Certainty? Stability?

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Comfort. The most accurate antonym to “uncertainty” I can think of is comfort. The problem with it? There is no evolution with comfort. We are panicking because we lost comfort in a matter of days.

I can safely say, that the pandemic set an awesome bunch of things in motion. Once we lost our comfort, our feeling of safety, our feeling everything is ok, we started thinking again. Humanity started thinking as a whole in an unprecedented width. We might be living the revolution right now. Social, economic, and tech revolution. So I say, let’s stop using the U word religiously like it would be the top-ranking SEO keyword in your niche. Let’s embrace change, let’s embrace the opportunity, let’s embrace the unique position the world is in right now. Let’s show the finger to people who want to leverage our fear - let yourself see them and laugh at them trying to catch that train later. Assure yourself, that these people will be caught by karma for capitalizing on victims.

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Uncertainty becomes your problem as soon as you embrace it as a value

Uncertainty isn’t a problem of the world - it’s a problem in your head. It’s yours and only yours to solve.

I mean: it can be very tempting and convenient to assume the role of a victim. To let others help you lick your wounds (even if they don’t exist). You think the world is always against you, and it’s true. You are setting yourself up for it. Don’t be the victim. It will give you nothing but superficial benefits.

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Be the victor. You will take the spoils and help humanity in the process. (“Don’t be a victim, be the victor” was one of the messages outlined in a podcast by one of the amazing people I follow - Jay Abraham)

Uncertainty is a great filter for people. Today, I can safely refuse to work with anybody who uses the word “uncertainty” in almost any context. I can safely assume these people have a default mindset of being the victim. Why would You, or I, want to work with people who let themselves drag into a position of pessimism all the time? It’s always great to work with people who are passionate, motivated, and who . It’s exactly the people who are never uncertain. The people who don’t overthink stuff, for decisive people, for people who do.

We have all probably made it through the worst of this pandemic, and we are still alive. This is great news! Let’s take it as an opportunity to reset, not to revert to a state where we were just waiting for disasters to happen. Let’s remove the word “uncertain” from our dictionaries.

Peter “Raavn” Kisel
I started this blog to give musicians (but not just them) an outlet of information that is actionable, valuable, or funny at least. So that we can finally draw a fine line between bullshit advice from “business model influencer coaches”. To be very honest: I’m an attention whore - but with good intentions. My purpose in life is to save people from themselves. For all the “omg, credentials!” people: I am a music lead at Burning Man events, I run Dark Beauty, I mentored DJs who play Awakenings now, and I’m an involuntary comedian.
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