Here's the problem with predicting the future: We are always lousy at it.

Sure, it is usually folly to look at current conditions--rising employment and low interest rates--and say it will be this way forever.

Things usually evolve slowly.

Usually.

But history is filled with countless dramatic shifts. (Buy an afternoon paper recently or even a daily one in a small city? When was the last time you made a phone call from your hotel room using the hotel's phone?)

So, if we can't predict the future should you do?

Create it.

Specifically, you accept that the uncertainty that is all around us is:

a) Constant and

b) Only going to increase.

To cope, you carve out your own path. You create the future you want.

How?

My suggestion is to copy the approach the pros use when they are dealing with the unknown.

If you spend a second thinking about it, you realize that entrepreneurs--especially serial entrepreneurs, i.e., people who have started two or more businesses successfully--are the perfect people to look to when it comes to dealing with uncertainty. There is nothing more uncertain than trying to create something that has never existed before, which is what entrepreneurs do.

And while the actions of every entrepreneur are idiosyncratic--how could it be otherwise--their underlying thinking is remarkably consistent. (I will use Michael Dell of Dell Computer as the example of how their thinking works, but you can substitute the entrepreneur of your choice.)

1. They come up with an idea. ("Hmm. I wonder if I could build a PC identical to one made by IBM, but one that would sell for less money.")

2. They take a small step toward their goal. ("I know--I will buy all the component parts and put them together myself in my dorm room.")

3. They evaluate where that small step led them. ("Hey, the darn thing works.")

4. They take another small step toward their goal. ("I wonder if one of the guys down the hall will buy my PC if I price it at 75 percent of what IBM charges?")

Notice what is going on. Instead of spending a lot of time thinking about what might happen in the face of uncertainty, entrepreneurs plunge in and see. In other words, instead of trying to predict the future, they create it.

Maybe their idea succeeds. Maybe it doesn't. But if it doesn't:

1. They know what does not work. That in itself is valuable. It allows you to move faster.

2. They aren't out much. Contrary to one of the most popular myths about entrepreneurs, they rarely bet it all. They are incredibly risk averse when it comes to spending money, primarily because they know just how unlikely success is going to be.

So, here we have a game plan for dealing with ever increasing level of uncertainty: Act your way into a new way of thinking, instead of thinking your way into action.

Yes, it's a different way of thinking. But that is exactly what is called for today.

Published on: Apr 2, 2015