Are You Guessing or Anticipating?
When we’re evaluating options that involve other people’s decisions, for example, a competitor’s next move or an employee’s decision to stay or leave, we can either guess the move, or we can anticipate it.
There’s a big difference between the two.
When we guess, we’re rolling the dice. We’re saying we have no information by which to process the decision and so we’ll simply pick on a random basis.
When we anticipate, though, we’re actively evaluating. We’re factoring in whatever we do know, assessing (at one level or another) the alternative options and then making a best estimate as to the potential outcome.
Our decisions from either approach could be spot on, or they could be completely wrong. That’s, of course, part of the uncertainty of the process.
But that’s also not really the point.
The point is in the assessment, the evaluation of options, the thoughtful consideration of the possibilities.
When we anticipate, we’re taking into account the best information we have. We are being, to the extent possible, proactive in our deliberations. We’re being active in our mindset.
Anticipation is proactive, that we must maintain some semblance of control over proceedings. Guessing is reactive, an acceptance that things are beyond our control.
Yes, there are situations where we have no data, no precedent, and we simply throw the dice and see where things land. But that isn’t the norm. There usually is some precedent. There usually is some pattern we can draw from. Or at least some leading set of behaviors that tell us if someone might stay or leave, act or react, innovate or maintain the status quo.
The point is, we almost always have more data than we think we do to make our choices. We just need to look not only at the situation at hand but at prior similar situations, any related data around historical behaviors, and our personal judgement of this situation (which is often a composite assessment of our prior knowledge, experiences, etc.).
We just need to adjust our mental mindset. And then we have to do the work.