I came across an blog post today that eviscerates the excuse of uncertainty. Uncertainty — the reason why companies are reluctant to hire or spend on R&D right now, why investors don’t want to buy stocks, why people aren’t buying houses.

It’s a stupid excuse because, as the article explains: “The future is by definition unknowable and therefore uncertain.” When people forget this fact and the consensus develops a false sense of certainty about the future, well, that’s when bubbles occur. Right now, the world is moribund because there’s no swelling bubble to ride.

Here’s more:

“Most of the time, Humans exist in a happy little bubble of self-created delusion. We lie to ourselves constantly. We rationalize everything we do, past and present. We engage in selective perception, seeing only the things that agree with us…
The Uncertainty trope arises during those moments when our delusions fade. In those instances where we recognize our own permanent ignorance of the future.”

And he’s primarily referring to financial markets in his post, but it struck me that this false uncertainty is exactly why I have been so miserable. Back when I was a grad student, I knew for a fact that a cushy executive position awaited me as soon as I finished my PhD. I spent 6 joyous years acting like an entitled little shit. Then I defended, graduated, and somehow no one was knocking on my door with a 7-figure offer.

I blamed the economy. I thought maybe I could go to Australia for a bit, ride out the downturn, and then come back for my corner office. It took a few years, but I slowly realized that no one was going to hand me an upper-level management role (apparently even PhDs have to work their way up); nor was the next Googlebook going to appear and offer me a pile of stock options (unless I create it myself).

I keep whining that I don’t know what I want to do, when the truth is, I am simply unhappy about the fact that I have to do my own work to get there.

Reality may suck, but there is a positive: It’s when the world holds the most uncertainty that the greatest opportunities are sitting out there unclaimed.

Revisiting the Uncertainty Trope — The Big Picture


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