The Real Danger of Uncertainty

By Paul R. Scheele Ph.D. | Articles

Deciding when there is no certainty that your choice is correct—that’s a challenge. The bigger the stakes, the tougher the decision. But there is often a bigger risk to doing nothing. Failure to commit and take action can cost you time, energy, money, and lost opportunities.

You can get better at facing uncertainty. Develop the habit of continuously growing your expertise at what you do. Awareness of your present situation is essential to inform your decision-making. Give attention to your business metrics, your customer behavior, and your industry trends. Intelligence gathering is essential as it helps inform your brain’s natural pattern-making ability.

It’s okay to be uncertain. Let your confusion lead to curiosity. Curiosity will drive positive learning behaviors. Choose to learn voraciously about what matters to you and your future. To get better at anything we have to begin with “not knowing” how to get better.

Gary Klein, a researcher who developed the idea of recognition-primed decision-making (RPD), showed that people with expertise intuitively identify patterns in a situation and quickly determine a course of action. Such intuitive decisions are very often right, and though they aren’t “perfect,” they are “good enough” solutions.

Klein’s research team conducted studies with pilots, nurses, military leaders, chess master, firefighters, and other experts in numerous fields and found that they often did not deliberate when reacting to a situation. They just acted.

Intuitive decision-making is best done in the types of situations that are time constrained, high stakes, uncertain, and constantly changing. If that sounds like a typical day in your business, welcome to the club. There are reasons to mistrust your intuitive impulses too. Books like Thinking fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, and Hare Brain Tortoise Mind by Guy Claxton.

When you embrace uncertainty on the way to getting better, you’re on your way to greater success at any problem you must solve.

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