As I lie here watching the morning coverage of the US Election results it seems that, once again, the forecasts of experts – pundits, pollsters, the media – are wrong.
Even if Biden wins it’s certainly looking much closer than the comfortable Democrat majority most experts predicted.
At the moment so much of our lives is guided by so-called experts in epidemiology and human behaviour. Thanks to their predictions tomorrow in the UK we’ll be locking down our country for the second time.
Yet just days after shocking graphs showed scenarios of overwhelmed intensive care units and deaths at 4,000 a day, we’re now looking at graphs that show infections have plateaued and the R rate – the infection reproduction number – is falling below 1.
Truth is, whenever we look to the future we just don’t know what’s going to happen, the whole betting industry exists, flourishes because of this. And yet governments rely on the economists to predict the future state of the economy which they, so often, get spectacularly wrong.
Individuals pay financial advisors and retirement planners to decide where best to invest their money and yet none can reliably predict the movements of the markets.
Did any economic nor financial experts, for example, predict this pandemic? Of course they didn’t.
We even struggle forecasting what the weather will be this time next week.
It makes me think of my early days of running a busines. I spent many days particularly in the early years of my business drafting business plans. It’s the sort of thing I like doing and helps create a sense of order and direction. It also feels like what you should be doing as a boss and, if you want to borrow, banks demand it.
Almost all of my plans were a complete waste of time. Usually within days something major happened that threw it completely off course. You win a customer or lose one, a major project needs focusing on or a key person resigns. All these events, often totally unexpected, force you as a small business owner into firefighting mode and solving that immediate issue has to becomes the primary focus.
So, my key learning point not just of 2020 but of life is that we just don’t know. It’s the height of human hubris to think anything else.