As I write this blog, I am seriously contemplating my summer vacation plans. The dramatic spread of COVID across continents along with the scintillating news and media coverage has worked wonders on my nerves. What sets us apart from others is how we choose to react to this uncertainty.
Unlike the past, today, anyone who claims to have a clear picture of the past and current state and thinks they can predict the future is wrong.
Uncertainty — it’s the one thing in our future that is certain. I do believe that the only positive out of this alarming virus fear would be innovation. Innovation is the darling of our current contemporary world. Now change is accelerating.
Don’t we often discuss how entire industries are being wiped out in less than a decade. It’s interesting to note that in the 20th century, most assets were built by hand. Creation of things required additional skills. The resulting creations often took years to complete and have been designed to last decades. We could see, touch and feel what is built. All this made for a more certain world.
In the 21st century, these builders have been replaced by software engineers and programmers. It increases uncertainty when we cannot actually see, touch or feel what they are building. The assets are literally all around us, yet invisible. The results are both invisible and uncertain.
There is also a change in what we learn and how we learn it. Earlier we went to a library, took a course or attended a conference. Today, we Google it or YouTube it. The frightening aspect is that we do not check the credentials of the presenter online, unlike the teacher who taught us.
There are also some positive aspects about uncertainty. Uncertainty is more powerful than certainty in boosting motivation towards a goal, making us work harder, spend more and enjoy more in the process.
Uncertainty has been bullied by the more established Certainty. As average human beings, we are risk averse preferring a certain smaller reward. But that was the older generation. Recent research shows that the millennial are far more motivated to reach goals when the reward is uncertain than when it’s certain.
There’s this famous ‘water drinking experiment’ doing the social media rounds. A group of participants were asked to drink large amounts of water within two minutes. They were split into two groups A and B. Group A was told that they would receive two dollars, guaranteed, if they completed the challenge. Group B was told that they would receive either one or two dollars, with outcome dictated by a coin toss.
And the results were staggering, 70% of group B completed the task, while only 43% of group A completed the task. It’s clear from this study that uncertainty increases motivation. Also group B felt the experience to be more exciting and outcome positive when chasing an uncertain reward.
It’s evident that uncertainty motivates us when we’re drawn to the process rather than the reward. We then invest more into uncertain rewards and care more about this experience.
An important disclaimer here, as reward gets bigger, the motivation-uncertainty effect will lessen because our attention shifts to the outcome rather than the process of attaining it. Why do you think loyalty programs are such a rage among the youth today and an opportunity for new business models?
Isn’t the better to be an ‘uncertainty sensation seeker’ having a craving for the positive experience journey rather than the goal?
About the author:
Neeraj is the Owner and Director at Silver Bright. Silver Bright manufactures high precision ERW Steel Tubes. They cater to four industry verticals namely Automotive, Furniture, Food Processing and Pharma.
Economic Times ranked Silver Bright in the Top 5 innovative companies from a pool of 270,000 SME’s across India. He has also featured on prime-time national television business shows representing Silver Bright. Silver Bright was also awarded as the Top 3 most innovative companies in India by United Kingdom Trade and Investment body. Neeraj was presented this award by the British High Commissioner to India at the Queen’s birthday celebrations.
Prior to joining Silver Bright, Neeraj was the Managing Director of a software technology firm based in United States and worked very closely with the fashion and lifestyle industry. He raised a million dollars as seed capital and created an online display platform for the fashion industry.
An ardent movie buff, Neeraj played a key role in promoting Hollywood motion picture “Paradise” starring Two Time Academy Award Winner and Golden Globe Award Winner Mickey Rooney.
A TEDx speaker, Neeraj has served as a Founder Charter Member at The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE). Currently he serves as a Mentor at Atal Incubation Centre a flagship mission by Niti Aayog, Government of India. He is also a Mentor on the Founder Institute Board and has chaired the strategy committee on the CII Young Indians board. Also, firmly believes that ‘The best use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.’