How Do You Know?

There is comfort in certainty. But how do we know what we think we know is certain?

The truth is we don’t know anything for certain. We can’t. When life throws us the proverbial curveball, the inherent uncertainty in which we operate on a daily basis is a kind of stomach tossing awareness becomes painfully apparent.

We live in an incredibly complex, ever evolving landscape. Have you been watching the news lately? One problem, however, is the news itself. Attention grabbing headlines can change sentiment in a hurry. And because humans are herd-seeking followers, the collective sentiment can have a profound influence on one’s individual outlook. If enough people start believing a new narrative, a self-fulfilling prophesy can sometimes result. Things overshoot both on optimism and pessimism spectrum.

Humans are incapable of processing or knowing all the relevant information pertinent to making a decision, that in itself creates uncertainty. We want certainty that we are making optimal choices, but we need to recognize and respect our blind spots.

So if our decisions are inherently uncertain, how does one make a decision at all given the risk of being wrong?

A decision maker needs to assess all the available data, and come up with a number of potential responses. It is OK to make a bad decision or be wrong, but the ability to course correct is much more important. After all, one can be right for all the wrong reasons, or get something wrong when the decision was based on a sound process.

Luck is an important variable.