#196: To Be Certain Or Not To Be.
That is the question. Is it really?
One of the two circles represents certainty, the other one uncertainty. Which one is which and why?
Depending on what you want the world to look like and whether you actively seek or try to avoid uncertainty, you are likely to answer the question differently.
Just one thing is certain. We need both of them. Complete certainty is as much an illusion as a desire for nothing else other than uncertainty, 24/7, all the time.
So what is the right dose? What falls into the category of uncertainty in the first place?
Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his fabulous book Antifragile throws the following terms into The Extended Disorder Family:
Uncertainty; Variability; Imperfect, incomplete knowledge; Chance; Chaos; Volatility; Disorder; Entropy; Time; The unknown; Randomness; Turmoil; Stressor; Error; Dispersion of outcomes; Unknowledge
Does that help? If nothing else, it demonstrates the impact of uncertainty on our everyday life. We take chances, complete tasks imperfectly, make errors, there is a hell of a lot we don’t know and, most importantly, we are at the mercy of the passing of time. We can’t slow it down, stop it or turn time backwards. Time just happens.
Whatever gives us the impression of certainty naturally leads to the illusion of control. It emboldens us to aim for the direct path to success by setting goals, creating plans and executing on them. Easy.
That single narrow path leads to one possible positive outcome and an infinite number of negative outcomes.
Alternatively, by embracing uncertainty you are in a completely different mindset of antifragility («gaining from randomness») and serendipity («smart luck»), you aim for opportunities, create a space for those to emerge, get prepared for whatever comes your way and improvise as you go.
In addition to an infinite number of outcomes that go well, it feels like a great relief not having to be right anymore.
This is not about choosing between certainty or uncertainty. Neither one of those can be avoided, nor would that be desirable.
However, acknowleding that life is risky, why not make most out of it.