How often are you certain?

Today is January 25 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often are you certain?”


In your daily conversations with friends, family members and colleagues, do you find yourself speaking with a great deal of certainty or are you comfortable with ambiguity or saying ‘I don’t know?’


One discussion that seems to garner a great deal of certainty is when young adults talk to their parents and others about what major to declare in college. In higher education circles there is an adage that “every student has two majors: the one their parents want them to have and the one they want to declare.”


Being certain about the employability of a major provides a student with false hope and is terribly misleading. In today’s ever changing global marketplace “business executives care more about their new hires' thinking, communication and problem-solving skills than they do about their undergraduate majors.” New research also shows that the vast majority of employers are looking for a “cultural fit” over skills in their next hire.


When you are expressing any level of certainty about a college major it would behoove you to recall the conclusion Philip Tetlock reached in Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? “The average expert was found to be only slight more accurate than a dart-throwing chimpanzee. Many experts would have done better if they had made random guesses.”


American dancer and choreographer Agnes de Mille noted “Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.”


Can you take leap after leap in the dark or must you be certain before you move?


More importantly, do you teach your children that living is a form of not being sure?