“May you live in interesting times”

11 November 2016

First Brexit. Then Trump. 2016 has been a year of unexpected events.

This is the last snapshot I could source of the major prediction sites regarding the US presidential election before polling started:

 Source:  The Upshot  website,  New York Times
Source:  The Upshot website,  New York Times

Of course, none of these sites say a Hilary Clinton win was 100% certain. And even events with a 1% or 2% likelihood have to happen 1 or 2 times out of 100. But like many, I was blindsided and completely astounded by the outcome.

In my eyes, and the eyes of many, the prospect of a Donald Presidency a year or two ago would have been laughable. It may even have been laughable a month or a week ago or three days ago.

What events like this really telegraph is that we live in an uncertain world.

We have to make predictions, and we have to put our money where our mouth is. When we decide to embark on a career, or start a role in a new organisation, or begin a business, we’re trying to predict what will work out best for us. We do the same when we enter into relationships, buy houses, and have children. 

It’s valuable to try to try to think of scenarios – possible, plausible, probable, preferable, and wild card futures. But to forecast with certainty what the world (or our personal lives or the lives of our loved ones) will look like in one or 10 or 100 years is in some ways an exercise in folly. 

What I’m really saying is that uncertainty is a core part of the human experience. And if it hadn’t been clear to my generation before, it should be now.

Acknowledging uncertainty, and developing personal and professional strategies for dealing with it, as important as ever.

We need to manage risk. And we also need to throw our hat in the ring and be exposed to good fortune. Donald Trump wouldn’t be president-elect if he hadn’t given it a go.


risk, uncertainty

About the author 

Sonnie Bailey

In his spare time, Sonnie likes telling people that he’s a former Olympic power walker, a lion tamer, or that he is an orthodontist. He is none of those things. In reality, Sonnie is a financial planner based in Christchurch. Through his business, Fairhaven Wealth (www.fairhavenwealth.co.nz), he provides independent, advice-only, fixed-fee financial planning services. Sonnie is a “recovering lawyer”: he has specialised in trusts and personal client work. He has also worked as a financial services lawyer for many years.

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