In my last blog (link here) I spoke about the ‘illusion of control’ that leads us to believe that we, too, can achieve great things like our aspirational heroes.
We can become rich like Steve Jobs or famous like the Kardashians or best-selling authors like Dan Brown. All we have to do is figure out how they did it and do the same. If it does not work out, it’s because we messed up. And we have to find out where we went astray and fix it.
But what if we are wrong? What if there is an X-factor that our role models have that we do not? And, therefore we can never attain the success they did?
For more than four hundred years after it was painted the Mona Lisa was relatively unknown. And then it was stolen, recovered and targeted by vandals. It made headlines the world over and is today, arguably, the world’s most famous and valuable painting.
A perfect example of the X-factor at work.
So, if you try to become a business titan and fail, is it because you did not try hard enough or smart enough? Or is it because you just don’t have the X-factor?
The answer is: You will never know!
Because we labor under the illusion of control, we tend to beat ourselves up. It was all, somehow, our fault. Our miscalculation.
This is why the great Indian sage, Vidyaranya, gave us a different model. He said:
That which is not to happen will not happen.
If it has to happen, it will not be otherwise.
So the X-factor — call it God, destiny, luck, kismet or whatever — rules the roost. It determines that X will become CEO and Y will be forced out. It ordains that Player A will win the championship and Player B will be the runner up.
Can you prove that this is so? No, you cannot.
Can you prove that this is not true? No, you cannot.
So Vidyaranya gives you the tool you need. Try your level best, your absolute level best, to attain the goal you have set for yourself. If you don’t succeed, then know that you do not have that X-factor.
Don’t beat yourself up. Just know that, for this time, you came up short because that is the way it is.
Should you try again?
Absolutely. Sometimes the X-factor kicks in after multiple attempts. Sometimes it does not. You never know till after you have tried.
When you truly accept that you have no control over the results of your vast effort, you find a welcome peace come over you.
So why should you make any effort at all?
Because you do not know, till you try, whether the X-factor is with you or not. And, because it is the trying that enables you to grow.
The mistake we all make is thinking that the benefit of trying to reach a goal is reaching the goal.
The benefit of trying our best to reach a goal is the learning and growth that happen in us, and to us, as we make that attempt.
If we do reach the goal, that is a bonus, and we should be immensely grateful. If we do not, the learning and growth have occurred, so we are ahead of the game.
You cannot lose if you adopt this model.
Invest in the process. Do not invest in the outcome. The outcome is beyond your control.
The funny thing is that when you implement Sage Vidyaranya’s model, and detach from the outcome, you find joy creeping into your life. The effort you put in becomes pleasurable because you do not mix it with the expectation that events unfold in the way you would like them to.