Arjun Badola


Since school/college one of my attempts has been to bring in as much certainty as possible into my life and act accordingly.

Academically, looking for certainty in school/college is fairly easy as one knows well in advance what the next 1-3 months are going to look like. But coming to the other side of the coin, most events in life come with a variable factor where uncertainty is the dominant factor.

Let’s assume the following is the expression of life: 2x + 50 (x = variable, 50 = constant, 2 = coefficient)

My focus has always been on the constant figures and avoiding variables to the maximum extent. But in reality a slight change in the variable figure throws your whole expression under the bus.

It is nice to have certainty in things, because one knows what comes next and there are less unknown known events. But looking for certainty in everything and getting to a conclusive decision is not a viable option every time, rather most of the time.

Letting things go with the flow seems the option to most things. As the variable factor is so strong that the pre-planning or thought process put into it seems a waste of time.

Only thing we can do is let go of the outcome, but hold the tail of the expression. Similar to flying a kite. Even though the kite is flying and being controlled with the flow of air, the end of the string is in your hands. This gives you some certainty about the maximum extent where it can go but you are also clueless about the pattern of how it goes.

If one is busy worrying about the pattern of flow and tries to control it or even anaylze it, it will be a recipe to burn out your mental space.

Investors face this problem a lot. There is a constant pursuit of rationalizing and quantifying actions of Mr.Market which eventually leads to random conclusion.

The variable “x” with the stock market is the human sentiment.

You try to control the constants - you read annual reports, attend conference calls, do plant visits, the company does a good quarter, etc. But if the human sentiment is bad in the market, the stock would struggle to perform [in the short term].

Now if someone gets too busy in trying to understand the reason behind the sentiments, eventually one would not find a rational answer and burn out their mental space.

Being open to uncertainty opens you up to explore unknown unknowns. As when you look for certainty, there are high chances that the assumptions you have made for forming a decision/opinion could be based without experience or prior knowledge of how things generally pan out. When such events happen in reality, one goes through character development.

Fighting uncertainty is a losing game. The only good tool to use against it is risk management as trying to reduce the downside can let you control the events which might occur if the primary event doesn’t go as per plan. But such planning should not be to micro level at the cost of burning out oneself.

Thanks to Pramit Dev Pandey for reading drafts of this.