“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.” Voltaire
As is so often the case when I review my collection of quotes, many seem so prescient as they relate to circumstances hundreds of years in the future. This quote is a stunning example. As a writer of the 18th century French Enlightenment, Voltaire’s words describe two situations that are most challenging for leaders in the 21st century. Let’s look at the first part, dealing with the unpleasantness of doubt. Events—sources of competition; marketplace changes; disruption, in general– are happening at such speed today that leaders—successful ones—must learn how to feel comfortable being uncomfortable. The second part of the quote is especially relevant, because today it is impossible for a leader to know everything—to be absolutely certain. This is where judgement enters the equation. This is an age when good judgement, based on critical thinking and incomplete data, is a key differentiator in leaders. This is the new gold standard for success in an age of volatility and ambiguity.
Good luck on your journey!