How certain do you need to be to take a risk? Do you need absolute certainty, say 95% chance that it will succeed? Do you need minimal certainty, say 25% chance that it will succeed? Or, do you need something in the middle?

This is a question that has fascinated me for years and helped me make some big decisions. I think the idea was originally something Andy Stanley said or some other teacher, I can’t recall. But, this premise that absolute certainty is impossible, so we must make decisions based on the risk we are willing to tolerate is interesting.

I find that I need about 50% to 70% certainty depending on what decision I’m making. For big decisions like, “should I take this job?” 70% lets me take the leap. For smaller decisions like, “should we hire someone now?” 50% lets me move forward.

I’m not very risk averse. Sometimes 30% will even do if the failure won’t be too large. Knowing this about myself has let me step out into the unknown many times. It has also allowed me to fail and to bounce back with optimism that the next time will work out better.

How sure do you need to be of something before you step off the cliff? Knowing the answer to that question is surprisingly freeing and helpful when making big decisions. There is no sure thing, it’s just a question of how much risk you are willing to tolerate. I suggest you decide ahead of time.