How Much Uncertainty Can You Handle?

July 5, 2021

How much uncertainty can you handle?

In your professional life you certainly want certainty, well, actually, as much of it as can be had. You want to be certain you’ve made the right diagnosis; you want to be certain a procedure you’re going to perform will be successful. You may not be able to get complete certainty but certainly you’re looking for a very high level of it.

But life in general isn’t like that at all.  

As I dictate this, I can’t be certain that I’m going to make it the few remaining blocks to work. I may have a heart attack at this corner, a bus could come flying down the street and kill me, but I can handle that level of uncertainty – you probably drive to work and can handle it as well.

But in terms of business deals, contracting, and negotiating, physicians often ask me, “are you certain it’s going to work? Can we know for sure? Has somebody already done this?”

From a business perspective, those are signs of an amateur, of someone who doesn’t comprehend that in order to succeed in business we have to be more and more comfortable with more and more uncertainty. Look, if it doesn’t work, you stop and try something else.

But if you need to have a guarantee that it’s going to work before you start, you’re never going to start.

Think about how much uncertainty you can handle. If the answer is none, then don’t get in the game. Get a job someplace and, well, hope you’re certain they’ll stay in business.

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