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December 9th, 2019
Looking back, we all have things that we’d do differently. As they say
Hindsight is 20/20.
Like many aphorisms, this is said so often and it’s so widely accepted, and the explanation feels so intuitive that it seems like a no-brainer. Our confidence in this apparent truth is similar to the over confidence we have when we make a plan for the future.
When we design the path to a goal, people generally shy away from discussing contingencies that imply that the plan might not work. It’s hard not to imagine that this is because there is some kind of insecurity that’s being touched regarding how good the original plan is. Doubt creeps in and then suddenly everyone involved wonders why go through with it at all if we don’t think it’s going to work?
In an environment where a single commercial can make the value of a company tank by millions it seems as though this binary emotional coin seems to spin at the heart of many financial markets.
We are emotional creatures and having confidence about what our next step forward is very important for the vast majority who have forgotten how to relax and have fun with the possibilities.
Our ramped up emotional environment turns our perspective into an either/or machine. We cease to see the gray space between the staggeringly few options we imagine. This inability to dance with the present into the future blocks a sense of what’s possible.
With the concept of hindsight we apply the same binary thinking to the past as we erroneously do with the future.
Looking back it seems so clear what would go different if we’d made this or that different action.
But we are again making the mistake that we do with the future.
The fact is we can’t be sure what would happen if we’d made a different choice or action. In all probability there exist other variables that would react to our other set of actions and choices leading to an entirely unknown set of outcomes.
Is this the 20/20 hindsight that is so often referred to?
While it might feel like the past is far more determined than the future, what we are in fact talking about when we think about making different choices in the past is a different future.
Any future is uncertain, no matter which point in the past we try to branch off from.