You Can’t Take Risks If You’re Waiting For Certainty

You Can’t Take Risks If You’re Waiting For Certainty
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It’s natural to be nervous about doing something when you’re unsure of the consequences. Waiting to be sure feels safer. However, certainty and risk are also opposites. You can’t take a risk if you’re sure of the outcome.

Picture: Nicu Buculei

As productivity blogger Seth Godin explains, being 99 per cent sure of an outcome is still a risk. Being 100 per cent sure, on the other hand, isn’t a risk at all. It’s a guarantee. That may not seem like a big difference, but it’s huge psychologically. In fact, it’s so huge, it often keeps many of us from taking any chances at all.

Certainty is binary, yes or no. The question, “are you sure it will work” is not about the work, it’s about the sure. If you need to know that it’s going to work, then you’ve committed to a very clear path. Some people go to work or school and do nothing except the things that they are sure about.

The other path is to do things that might not work. Work, projects designed to land on the spectrum of not sure.

Sometimes, it’s OK to wait for certainty. If you’re crossing the street with a child, it’s good to wait for that extra hundredth per cent. However, if you’re considering taking a job, pursuing a relationship or moving to a new city, you can never be 100 per cent sure of the outcome. Those are all obviously risks. Risk and certainty run contradictory to each other, but that doesn’t make the end result bad by default.

“But how can you be sure?” [Seth Godin]