Wisdom of the ages – outcomes or processes

Here is a Ted talk that delivers an excellent though well known insight which is the basis of rational decision making – “You can not control outcomes. You can only control processes.”  https://go.ted.com/CtRj

Another way of saying this would be “Its of no use focusing on goals. It makes sense only to focus on the best set of actions that will get us to our goals”

This is the wisdom of the ages. We hear this not only from many of the gurus of today but is also baked into the folklore and cultural/religious heritage in almost all civilisations.

In the Bhagwad Gita, this is one of the most popular verses “Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kada Chana”. People interpret it in many ways. For me it is simple and clear – It says, “focus on the best process or set of actions that will get you to your goal. Focusing on the goal will actually hinder your chances of getting there.”

You hear the exact same thing from the Greeks. The stoics and others. In Seneca’s words – “The wise man regards the reason for all his actions, but not the results.”

You hear it said in a different way by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius “Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”

The Buddhist interpretation of Karma is almost the same.

I am willing to bet that this simple piece of knowledge exists in every major philosophy and culture.

It’s good to have goals. So you know what you want to accomplish. After that it makes sense to figure out what needs to be done to get there and then focus only on the actions while course correcting along the way.

You can not control the outcome. Only your actions.