There is some degree of art to it.
First, there are few laws that govern the universe:
1. There is no such thing as golden formula which will not fail. IOW, only formula that works all the time is that there is no formula.
2. The law of cause and effect. Whatever you and others put in will never fail to bring the appropriate effect. It is inescapable unless you do something about it in the meantime before the effect happens.
3. Anything is possible. Anything can happen, it’s just a matter of probabilities. So, you can forecast the future but not tell for sure.
4. Because of the 3rd law, every moment is going to be unique. Things may be similar but not exactly the same most of the time unless every participating variables stay exactly the same as before.
So, based on these laws, we create the following diagram:
The 1st law says that for every different result we intend, there needs to be different variables and formulas. The 2nd law says that if we can input the correct variables, then the intended result will eventually happen after some time. The 3rd law says that due to the interaction between the varying variables, the result will be more of a probability rather than a sure thing; thus, every result is possible but differs in their probability of happening. Lastly, the 4th law says that every new result is going to be unique unless every participating variable stays the same.
The above diagram is the whole picture. If you can see beforehand which variables cause which results, then you can always make the right decision and the right actions which would result into your desired outcomes. However, that is not always the case. There are few problems with this statement:
Problems with the Result block
Unless you know exactly what your intended results looks like, there should be no problem with it. However, in some cases, we keep looking for a result that is not the actual intended result but we think that is what we want. This bias blinds us by looking for something else when we already have got the actual wanted result.
Problems with the Time/Process/Interaction block
Unless we are experimenting in a lab where every variable is under our control in a vacuum, most processes and situations are mostly outside of our control. And, there is nothing we can do about it. We can’t stop time from going. We may be able to stop some variables from interacting with each other but mostly, we can’t.
For example, we can’t stop the spread of the Coronavirus only by ourselves, but what we can do is we can try not to catch it by taking the necessary measures. We can’t control the behaviors of the other people but we can only influence them. But, if two people interact with each other and the virus spreads and you are far away from them, nothing you can do will prevent that from happening.
-So, if you are dealing with a situation where the process is mostly outside of your control, you then fuck-up, and it is too late, you are going to fail. Then, the next most logical thing left to do is to minimize the damage. When, it becomes apparent that you will fail, the next important things to do will be to lessen the damage as much as you can.
Or in dota2 video game, you play 5v5, meaning your team composed of 4 other players and you in the same team against a team of 5 players as well, and the objective is to destroy the enemy team’s throne in the game. From the beginning until the end, as a team, each team is trying to gain an edge over the enemy by killing the enemy characters in the game while staying alive. As a result, many teamfights happen throughout the game. Let’s say, you get involved in a teamfight and it becomes apparent that your character will die, so then the next best course of action becomes, instead of running around and waiting for them to kill your hero, to do the most damage to the enemy heroes before your hero dies to increase the odds of your team winning that particular teamfight.
Problems with the Variables Block
Now, this one has a lot of problems that are both in and out of our control.
Let’s start with the variables out of our control. The main problem with this is that you just don’t know what the variables would be. For example, in the military or any kind of competitive sport, you just don’t know what your opponent will do; you may know what they may do but you just don’t know for sure because human beings are unpredictable. This factor alone imposes a greater challenge to make a right decision, to perform a correct course of action when you just don’t know what your counterpart will do for sure.
Let’s go even deeper. In any kind of field such as weather that involves massive amounts of inputs from various numbers of sources, the number of unknown variables that are out of our control is daunting. A smallest difference such as a butterfly’s swing in South America causes a hurricane in Japan is what the chaos theory states because that small difference such as the butterfly’s swing was big a enough influential initial condition to cause the hurricane. As much as technology has advanced, we can’t still forecast the exact temperatures beyond three days because the involved variables in this field are too chaotic and random to make an exact forecast in the long term. If you want to learn more about this and the unpredictability of natural variables that are out of our control, study chaos theory. We just kind of assume that the world is in one big order where Newton’s laws mainly govern but the reality begs to differ and the best explanation to this phenomena we got is the chaos theory so far.
Let’s take it one notch higher. Because these unknown variables are out of our control, we also do not know how these variables would affect, how they would interact with each other and what effect they would cause. It’s one thing to know all of the variables involved and not knowing what they will do but it is a completely different field when you don’t know the variables and don’t know what their actions and effects would be: in other words, which causes which. In this case, just forget about making the right decision, trust your intuition and go for the trial-and-error method unless you are as gifted as Nikola Tesla. When there is nothing written or known about the field that you are about to enter, all there is left to do for you is to just do it. Then, you might learn something about it and can come back sharper. Do this process however many times required to be acquainted with all the variables and go for the intended result. How many iterations? I don’t know.
Next, let’s talk about variables that are actually in our control.
The good thing is that we are in control. But the bad thing is we suck at judging ourselves than judging the external world. Because of our ego, we are blind to the truth but don’t realize our blindness. Everything we see are always unconsciously being filtered through our ego from which we derive our perceptions of the actual reality. This perception distorts the actual reality and creates false reality. We usually follow the false reality since this is what the ego produces and makes to believe in; hence, the saying “Perception is reality.” But, those who have transcended their ego perception, know that perception is not the reality. Sooner or later, reality always wins in the long run. For example, the 2009 U.S real state collapse. At the moment, the perception was that the real-state industry was to keep booming. But Dr. Burry who is played by Christian Bale in the movie Big Short, realizes the reality of the situation they were in after doing some research and study. He knew that the ongoing rise of the retail industry value cannot be sustained and every variable involved was suggesting the immediate collapse. However, the perception, widely accepted and shared among the public, kept increasing the value. People were so optimistic that they kept buying and buying, further creating a bigger bubble that was soon to pop. That is how powerful the perception is. So, it seems we are actually in control but we are not actually in control as long as we are a slave to our perceptions. There are many of my articles explaining why the case is if you are interested for further read on this topic of being dominated by our perceptions.
This inability to correctly judge our controlled variables is where the most fail at in cases where the result is mostly due to the controlled variables. I would say 90–95% of the whole population fail at it. We learn and study so much about the variables that are outside of our control, we get so good at identifying them correctly but when it comes to being an honest judge for ourselves, we simply suck. In other words, we become the obstacle in our own way to success but we then also fail to see that and keep trying to see the obstacle from something other than ourselves so that we don’t have to take the responsibility and the blame on ourselves so that our precious egos won’t be hurt. As a result of this inability to honestly judge ourselves, we are biased towards the variables that we think and believe to be the right. Again, the perception is controlling the judgement. Unfortunately, perception is not always the reality; usually, it isn’t. When we base our decisions on our perception, we are already making mistakes from the get-go because the perception is already faulty. Instead, if we make inferences solely based on the naked reality, we are much closer to make the right decision. Instead of trying to set your perception as close as to the reality, just let go of your perception and all there is left would be the naked reality.
However, just because now you can see the naked reality without any paint, it doesn’t mean you will make the right call right off the bat but you will be much closer. In the past, we were connecting the wrong dots together, but now, we don’t know, we have given up on our perception that told us which one is which. So, we have to start all over again and experiment with the dots and see which variable exactly causes the which effect while keeping the naked reality our closest friend. Luckily, once these connections are re-established correctly based on the not the perception but the reality, it doesn’t need to be re-done again if the system you are dealing with is a stable system that doesn’t change overtime. If it is a system that changes like for example, an organism, then establishment of connections need to be re-evaluated from time to time. Basing your decisions on the naked reality doesn’t necessarily guarantee the success but it has the highest probability of success in the long run because now, you are working with the truth not the lie.
So, as you can see, it is almost impossible to make the right call depending on the degree and number of variables involved and such. Based on the above paragraphs, it seems that the more complex, unknown, and chaotic the system is the harder to make the right decisions. Then, add the probability of events happening and chaotic nature of the nature on top of the complexity we have discussed so far and you can see what the hell we deal with. Simply, we just don’t know what is to happen in the future for sure unless we are some kind of Oracles. And, this is why the CEO’s are a few hand-selected individuals who get paid top notch salary than others because they are the ones who are dealing with this unpredictable aspect of the nature while trying to make the right decisions. It is a scary scene on one hand and on the other hand, this complex diversity of the world is what makes it wonderful and full of adventuress.
You may be wondering, if this is the reality we are dealing with then what are we supposed to do then? Should we just give up and do nothing or should we keep doing, keep trying even though we are uncertain of the outcome? Not only the outcome but also we must consider the safety of ourselves and the psychological aspect of doing things that are out of our current capabilities. If we fail at bringing the desired outcome, our psychology takes a hit. We feel all sorts of miseries, emotional pain, and suffering. The schools don’t teach us how to deal with it and we are left to our own devices. If you have felt intense emotional pain before, you know how much it sucks and the questions you ask yourself such as why did I even bother to come here when I could have not tried and stayed where I was comfortable and chill without inflicting any of these emotional hindrances upon myself. The emotional well-being takes an ugly hit and some don’t ever recover from that. However, on the other hand, if you don’t get out of your shell of comfort and dare to take further steps you feel stuck, you feel meaningless, life loses its fragrance and you are dying to get some action and adventure. Those who dared seem to be leading the race if you would look at the people who are winning at life doing whatever the hell they want, pursuing their dreams and stuff like that. They all felt the same failures, pain, discouragement and so on except the rare anomalies. In fact, this is the question the book Alchemist deals with in a greater detail. I am going to end the article here and the further development of this article will be discussed in the part 2.