On Certainty

pushing through uncertainty
A lot can come at you, but you can push through the uncertainty strategically. From NMK Photography’s Flickr photostream.

Sure, I love the idea of certainty. I would like to come back to the same situation and know that everything will be the same. But it rarely works that way. The ground under our feet tends to move rather quickly. What works today is merely temporary.

The fact that the world around us is continually changing and that people get excited about new things then tire of them creates cycles that we all have to deal with in business. Just take a look at LinkedIn and see how long people are staying at a job these days. There’s constant movement because markets, industries and customers change faster than ever.

I think the best certainty you can bet on is what you are investing in yourself. Are you adaptive? Do you have highly valuable knowledge? Do you share it well?

You and I would be hard pressed to predict what next year will be like and what will work.

So what’s a person to do? How about avoiding the mentality of all or nothing risk. Instead test your ideas. Do it frequently and often.

The skill that works with so much uncertainty is to iterate quickly. Of course this means you have to be a good tester. You also have to be humble. What’s inside your head may not match reality. In fact, if you are open, you will allow reality to give you feedback to move forward on the next steps.

Testing your ideas in small, low-risk ways will allow you to arrive at some certainty without losing it all.

With so much uncertainty, it also means you better be constantly testing and innovating. Otherwise, you may get caught standing when the music stops in the game of musical chairs in your industry.

I’m uncertain about how things will work. It’s why I work hard to continually test my ideas.

What can you test to stay ahead of the game?