To be a great innovator, learn to embrace and thrive in uncertainty

<span class="caption">Innovators are comfortable dealing with uncertainty. </span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/lost-and-confused-businessman-walking-in-meadow-royalty-free-image/1181272310?adppopup=true" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Gremlin/E+ via Getty Images">Gremlin/E+ via Getty Images</a></span>
Innovators are comfortable dealing with uncertainty. Gremlin/E+ via Getty Images

Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, was America’s first female self-made millionaire. She pioneered a line of hair care and beauty products for people of color early in the 20th century, and the recent Netflix series “Self Made” details the story of this talented innovator and the challenges she overcame on the way to her success.

To accomplish her goals, she had to face overwhelming uncertainties. How would she finance her business? Would her partnerships fail? Would her products sell? Would ruthless competition and racism get in her way? Madame Walker’s future was far from certain when she began her journey, but that did not dissuade her.

A historical photo of Madam C.J. Walker
A historical photo of Madam C.J. Walker

It is tempting to think that innovators are a breed apart or perhaps lucky to be in the right place and time. But research shows this

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As universities reopen, no one has more uncertainty than this year’s freshman class

There’s the adventure of going off to college for the first time, that big, nerve-wracking step toward adulthood that some students have been preparing for their entire high school careers. And then there’s going off to college for the first time in 2020.

That is, if this year’s freshman class of students are even going off somewhere at all.

As universities in the Chicago area and around the country scramble to resume classes during the COVID-19 pandemic — be that with online coursework, students in class or a hybrid of both — they acknowledge they must plan in particular for this year’s freshman class, and figure out how to welcome new students with orientations that in past years would have included weeklong receptions, dorm move-in shindigs and get-to-know-you social events with fellow students.

A number of universities have not yet announced their plans for resuming. Recently, about 24% of American

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