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Behold the mighty Random



Do you think all your achievements are the result of your conscious efforts?
If your answer is a confident yes - I congratulate you, you're godlike.

For those of us who allow a reasonable doubt...

What do you think might affect your results? 

Your peers? Competitors? The invisible hand of the market? World's government?

How about Random. Blind Random.
Some successes you had are due to Random. So as some failures.

It's a somehow liberating thought, don't you think? Just don't use it all the time as an excuse.

In psychology, there is a term: locus of control.
is the degree to which people believe that they have control over the outcome of events in their lives, as opposed to external forces beyond their control.
At one extreme, a locus of control could manifest in fatalism.
- All is predefined. I can't control anything.
On the other - hyper-responsibility.
- All depends only on me. I can stop time.

Extremes are never good so psychologists say adult's locus of control should be:
  1. Internal
  2. Strong
Which effectively means that an adult person should focus first and foremost on her own actions. But at the same time be aware of where own's abilities end and what forces are greater than oneself. Therefore being out of her control.

Take modern marketing for example. When I want people to visit my webpage - I can't just order them to do it. Others people will is out of my control. I could only start with myself. Craft a webpage that is interesting and valuable for people. Then to increase my chances I could inform people that the page exists. I might even prepare some additional incentive, like cookies, for people to come. All I can do is to create a context in which people might choose to visit my page. The choice is still theirs.

What about Random?

Consider two startups who got a bright idea at the same time. They have comparable resources and therefore come up with version one of their product at the same time. Both companies target the same market segment, and their marketing is pretty much alike. Yet one startup succeeds and the other fails. A clever analyst studies both enterprises. Carefully crafting a list of differences in strategy and execution between the two. In summary, the analyst concludes that all the differences between two companies couldn't produce such significant impact. Still, one company is history, and the other is future. And what might have been the key difference is Random. Luck. Or the absence of fortune.

Back to our work. And our brains. We don't like random, do we? Random is terrible. Even if we do everything perfectly - it still might not work? And we would not even know why? Nightmare!

Who likes ambiguity? Almost no one. And no wonder. Ambiguity costs us a lot of energy. A lot of thinking time. While settling on one explanation liberates the mind to move to other things. Most likely Netflix.

Why then thinking about the random might be helpful? 

It's a time-saver. Say you failed at something. You spent some time analysing why you failed. You've gotten your learnings, and you moved on.

If you couldn't get the learnings or the process takes too long - assign some blame to random and move on. Because the key is moving on!
Dwelling on the past over and over again is not helpful. You cannot change the past. And chances are in the future the context would be so different that "what I would have done better" will not apply.

Summary of this random post

  • Do your best
  • If you succeed or fail
    • Spend some time to get learnings from the experience
  • Assign the rest to Random
  • Move on! 
Good luck to you! 

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