"It is so difficult to predict the future; Anybody can predict anything; A rational prediction has an explanation based on theory." - Edward Deming
The billboard that is being passed on facebook pages and from one to another in emails sums up the great prediction of the worlds demise this past Saturday basically says, "Well that was embarrassing!" The world didn't end! A snicker was heard in church pews. A sigh of relief was on the lips of some. Life was not evaporated from the face of the earth! The Rapture ruptured!
I have heard and read of people who sold everything, diverted life savings, and totally rearranging their lives in preparation. I've heard of stories of children not wanting to go to birthday parties for fear of not being with their parents at the end. Children trying to wrap their minds around the fear that adults were passing along in their conversations or in the lack of taking time to sit and spend quality time quelling the little one's fears or questions.
Leaders corrupt their influence when predictions are made without any deep understanding or ability to influence the outcomes. It's hard for leaders to predict the fickle events of moments in time, machinery settings, variation in systems, people responses to news or events, and we still have ones that feel they can predict the end of all time?! Jesus even had the knowledge and wisdom to defer the questions that came to him by saying that He didn't even have that depth of knowledge, insight or influence and that it was a God timing issue.
When it came to questions of definitive prediction that were asked of Dr. Deming at his seminars he would calmly say, " There is one thing for sure if you are looking to predict the stock market-tomorrow it will either be up or down from what it is today." The great oracle at Delphi in early Greek Culture knew the skill set of the artful dodge. If asked will my pregnant wife give birth to a son or daughter? The perceived wise oracle would answer, "Boy-yes, no girl!" and when the son was born, all was truthful; however when the daughter arrived, what happened?! To which the oracle would clarify, first inclination- boy yes, no-wait-a girl!"
It's all in what we hear, but also how we want to hear it! Prediction is possible for anyone, but will they be articulating the truth, based on reliable theory, wisdom and knowledge as able to understand. Long tracks of figures and stats may pile up to one thought, yet as Deming also reminds us, "It only takes one failure to rebut a theory!" We get comfortable in known paradigms, we get stuck in our thinking, or we become so fearful, we are not able to think clearly. We seize up!
Even Jesus had his moment of questioning His leap of turning His fate in God's hands, but it was trust and a deepened faith that came from repeated testings and trials that forged a confidence in God's ability to totally change all of the rules and paradigms and enable a resurrection from what many thought was a final and total end in death. He lives!
Hacks can predict all sorts of things. Knowledgeable people can statistically run the numbers to point in hoped for directions, but it is the trust levels that come with a wisdom that allows us to allow faith to intervene when we so desperately want a final answer, and know that God will provide and act to enable what is best.
The only prediction that I would ever dare to utter with humble confidence is: God is Good All of the Time, All the Time God is Good, Because That is HIS Nature! All of the rest of predictions are guesses at best. We need and try to do it in our lives and businesses to the best of our knowledgeable theoretical ability to aid in planning for success, but at the baseline, it's still a guess. As leaders, we need to know the difference and our prediction limits!