Give your best and don’t dwell on the outcome.
My four-year-old can’t lift a table or push a heavy chair. Yet she wants to be admired as a strong, independent “big girl.” We often help out—as she pushes the chair, we add our force, while making sure she doesn’t see that we are doing so. With the mission accomplished, we all celebrate her success. I know when her innocence fades she will figure out this ruse. Hopefully by that time her biceps will have the strength to open the car doors and push heavier chairs.
I am increasingly realizing that my accomplishments aren’t too dissimilar. I can influence my effort and intention. My effort and intention, however, are only a small part of the equation. Countless external forces, known and unknown, and the play of probability collude with each other and my efforts to determine the outcome. In my hand are my diligence and good intentions. The rest is a large unknown that I can only imagine and observe.
Internalizing this reality helps me stop obsessing about the outcomes. I realize that I shouldn’t peg my self-esteem on the results, unpredictable as they are. Instead, I should focus on effort and intentions. I hope to keep striving without tiring and to fulfill a meaning without experiencing burnout.
I should also recognize that I only fail when I don’t try. If I give a good try, no matter the outcome, I can’t fail.
A good attempt entails a tension among choices. Choosing one equals letting go of another. Choosing isn’t easy because letting go isn’t easy. My mind wants the benefit of both choices while committing effort to only one (sometimes none!). I am amused by my mind’s irrational greed.
Once I choose, I should chase my choice and give it my best—I should focus, sweat, persevere, and go the extra mile, with patience and creativity. However, once the dice are cast, I should leave them to chance. My effort is a small wave in the ocean of events that influence an outcome. I believe if my intentions are pure, my wave will be in sync with the tide. Chance might choose to favor me.
So I should choose (not drift), chase (not be lax), keep good intentions, and then leave the outcome to chance.
May the tide favor your little wave of good intention; may your goodness create a new wave if the tide changes its direction.
@AmitSoodMD (on Twitter)