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1 min readWhat Is CERTAIN May Not Be

by Guy Gage | October 20, 2019 | Business, Leadership, Performance, Personal Management

Uncertainty affects people differently. When you are uncertain about something, are you driven to explore the potential opportunities or to protect what you have? One activates your curiosity, the other guards where you are. One draws you out to pursue at the risk of the unknown while the other draws you inward to what is safe because it is known. In fact, this is a known human experience that is referred to as the Uncertainty Effect.

The Uncertainty Effect

We know that the more certain you are, the more you draw on the part of the brain (striatum) that stimulates confidence and expectancy; while the more uncertain you are, the more your fear response (amygdala) is activated. One causes you to move forward, the other to hold back. This is interesting, but so what?

The Relevance To You

Regarding your career, what are you betting on for your future success? Are you betting your future heavily weighted on your technical competence or you are betting that your personal and interpersonal competence is the priority? It may appear that your technical competence is the certain bet, but the success is actually in the professional skills.

Most firms today attempt to increase your professional skills along with your technical skills, but maybe not as equally. There may be an expectation by your firm leaders that you should gain professional skills on your own. The firm just provides the setting for you to figure it out.

For instance, many firms use “ride-alongs” to expose young professionals to client, prospect and marketing situations to see how a more senior person handles it. While this practice is common, there is no evidence that exposure builds skills. The only learning that occurs is for one to observe how someone else does it (exposure), not how to do it yourself (skill). Multiply this approach over many different situations and it’s no wonder that staff, managers and partners struggle with some aspect of professional skill competence.


It is CERTAIN that your career success will require you to gain experience and effectiveness to manage yourself, earn the confidence of your prospects, deepen your relationships with your clients and effectively develop your staff. While they may have been optional in the past, they will be required going forward. This is CERTAIN.

Sidebar: This is the essence of the Partner-Pipeline®. It is a robust, skills-based training program to develop situation-specific competence. It equips you to handle yourself and the situations that you encounter with professionalism and effectiveness, from entry staff through senior manager. You can read about it here.

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