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The Certainty of Misery

build your brilliant business business dino tartaglia the workroom Apr 18, 2022

By Dino Tartaglia.

Often called the "mother of family therapy," Virginia Satir (1916-1988) started her professional life as an educator after graduating from what is now the University of Wisconsin in 1936.

While working as a public school teacher, Virginia developed an interest in meeting and working with her students' parents – recognising early on that engaging the support of parents yielded more successful outcomes for her students in the classroom and unlocked potential for healing within their families.

She began to see the family as a microcosm for the larger world, famously stating, "If we can heal the family, we can heal the world."

From early on in her career, Virginia recognised the significant role that families often play in contributing to an individual's problems and, by extension, their crucial role in contributing to the healing process.

Her unique approach and ability to help difficult clients quickly led to recognition and demand as a consultant, author, and world-renowned trainer – as well as countless awards that included being voted "Most Influential Therapist" in two national American surveys of Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists.

During her lifetime, she wrote several widely-acclaimed books on family therapy and helped establish organisations such as the Mental Research Institute, International Human Learning Resources Network (IHLRN), and The Avanta Network (now The Virginia Satir Global Network) for training and providing resources for therapists. She remained devoted to helping others and worked tirelessly until she died in 1988, writing and travelling the globe as a trainer and lecturer.

The Satir Model ultimately expanded beyond family therapy and became recognised as applying to all situations where improving human communication and growth is desired, proving useful in areas ranging from therapy and social work to education and information technology.

The principles embodied in Virginia Satir's unique combination of intelligence, insight, and compassion are universal in their applicability to the human condition, and there is little doubt that she deserves her status as one of the most significant figures in the history of modern therapy.

And yet, most people in the online coaching space have never heard of this phenomenal lady.

Reality Check

There are a whole raft of reasons why Virginia Satir is less well known or quoted outside of the world of family therapy. Still, IMHO it's down to the simple, stark and often uncomfortable observations she made about human behaviour. Like this gut-punch…

"People prefer the certainty of misery to the misery of uncertainty."


That's a toughie, right? But she's not wrong.

The reality - the plain, bald-faced truth - is that the vast majority of the planet seeks Certainty and will sacrifice a staggering amount to secure it, even if that means discomfort or even pain.

Or 'misery', as Virginia puts it. So, why is this, and what can we do about it?

Because, as Entrepreneurs or Business Owners, UNcertainty is our constant companion.

As is ALWAYS the case, the first step is to understand the situation and the drivers of our behaviours and attitudes.

And to understand that, to run a business that delivers the income, funds the lifestyle we want and brings us that much closer to What Actually Matters Most to us, we need to become the person capable of doing that.

Which, for the avoidance of doubt, is just a better version of YOU.

You are already 'enough', but that doesn't mean that your skills, business acumen and internal traits (characteristics) are yet up to the job of delivering your goals and dreams.

So, if you get my drift, the work ahead of you is to develop You into a 'Better You'.

The question then is 'How?'

Seeing Around Corners

In all of the Multiverse, humans have a unique ability to 'see' into the future, and we call this the Power of Foresight.

By harnessing the Science of Hindsight and combining it with this unique ability, we can, almost literally, see around corners and beyond horizons. Why is this useful?


Virginia gave us a humongous clue. Let me remind you of it, "People prefer the certainty of misery to the misery of uncertainty."


It unsettles all but the most confident of (well-adjusted) people, the strident and the foolhardy. That means it impacts thee and me.

So, doesn't it stand to reason that to combat UNCertainty, we simply have to make the uncertain certain? As ridiculously outlandish as this may sound if you're not used to this experience or line of thinking, that really is the simple answer.

The trouble is, as you'll know if you read a few of my previous articles, simple ain't easy, far from it.

The map is NOT the territory - nothing ahead of you is likely to pan out as the plan might have you believe. You have to experience to understand truly.

The path only begins to reveal itself once you step onto it, which means that a strategy, a grand plan that focuses on the what and the how of the mechanics of your business's development, isn't the whole picture, and in fact, it's only a fraction of it.

To convert the uncertain to certain, we need to deconstruct the problem, the real challenge. And contrary to what many 'gooroos' will tell you, there is no 'just' in doing this.


No 'all you need to do is…' It takes courage, resourcefulness, resilience and, above all, CLARITY.

This is where it all begins.

Creating Your Own Path

The way to ensure the kind of growth you'll need to get to where you want to go and, critically, to be happy ON the journey (as opposed to the "It'll all be worth it when I get there" approach), is to develop the right:

Skills, tools and mental game at each stage of your' voyage'.

Doing this will equip you to handle each of the challenges that will inevitably present themselves to you almost every day. To believe that you can avoid these problems and challenges wholesale would be naïve at best and downright foolhardy, even dangerous, at worst.

Coming face to face with:

The journey from WHERE you are to WHERE you wish to be
The growth from WHO you are to WHO you must become

That's a mix of mindset and mechanics, character and capability.

The path reveals itself as you step onto it, not before. Don't be fooled by some 'gooroo' telling you otherwise, no matter how appealing or magnetic that message might feel, because this is the raw and unadulterated truth. The way to turn uncertain into certain is to know - genuinely know - that you can absorb and tackle whatever presents at each step and phase of your journey.

You can't truly precut the future, but you can sure as heck be ready for whatever comes at you. You shift randomness in your favour by domesticating risk (more on this in the following article). Fewer things go wrong, and more seem to go right for you.

By learning what works and doesn't, you spend more of your time on things that positively impact your progress and far less on 'Busywork' and, like every successful business owner and entrepreneur before you, as you begin to gain confidence, you trade the 'certainty of misery' for the scary but thrilling experience of the uncertainty that lies ahead.

Because you know you can handle it.

At Success Engineers, our sole focus is to help you Build a Better Business. We do this together by showing you how to Grow Better, Build Better and BE Better and supporting you through that growth because ALL change for the better starts with behavioural and personal change, and no one does that successfully on their own, not if they're in business for the long game.

Something that I hope you've already figured out if you're a member of The Female CEO Facebook group and/or have been reading this magazine for any length of time is this…

You, alone, are responsible for your success but you should never BE alone on your journey.

Choose your guides and companions carefully, and ensure that they help & support you to embrace the uncertain.

This nicely brings us back to the focus of this article. Challenges are inevitable.

Trying to avoid them by importing someone else's idea of a solution to your problem, by buying someone else's 'business blueprint', by searching for the answer…instead of embracing the challenge and learning to solve the problem, keeps you stuck in the 'certainty of misery'.

Embracing challenge and relishing uncertainty, in the growing knowledge that you CAN and WILL figure your next step out, endure and thrive, is where your growth and fulfilment will come from. At which point, uncertainty becomes an exhilarating experience.

And about as far away from misery as you could get.

To your inevitable success.


Dino Tartaglia is a former Electronics Engineer, now a businessman, mentor, coach and troubleshooter working to help you, if you’re a coach, consultant, creative or service provider, to Build a Joyful, Dependable Business around Being Brilliant at What You Do. 

In his own coaching, and together with world-class coach Simon Hartley, the other half of Success Engineers (their joint business), he helps you to improve your thinking to ask better questions, so that you solve the right problems in your business at the right time, develop your own personal performance as a business owner and get closer to What Matters Most. 

You can find Dino in our FB Group , on his  website or on any of these other locations; Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram |PodCast - Back Bedroom to Big Business


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