Power of human destiny and decision

One of the people who I admire most is Steve Jobs. He characterizes everything that a leader should have – vision, dedication and tough management.
He gave a commencement address at Stanford University and some of the things he said were very relevant to me:

1) He talks about how you cannot connect the dots going forward, you can only connect going back. The future is entirely unknown but you should always give things a shot. His attending of a calligraphy course changed PC history.

2) Love what you do and don’t mind the failures. Life has alot of great ironies, and he talked about how getting fired was the best thing to happen to him.
Sometimes a bad thing can lead to a good thing. But you always have to have the faith to keep going, the failures that you make cannot set you back.
Always look to the future and not to the past. I have regrets in life but I don’t think about ‘what ifs’ because they are irrelevant. History has put
you on this path and you can’t rewind back time to redo things. The only way to go is forward.

3) Death overrides everything. Death is the thing that no one can escape and he talks about how the prospect of dying drives him to do all that he could.
It’s true. In life, there’s lots of risks, but what does it matter? If you are going to die, you have nothing to lose. Taking risks is what makes great companies
and great fortune. It’s a shame people often fear it because they fear the unknown.

One of my great mantras is that life is 50% your decision and 50% fate. The ‘fate’ can be substituted with any external force beyond our control.
Call it karma, or destiny, or God’s will, but there’s a certain part of your life that is uncontrollable. However I believe a great majority of your life is controllable. Our decisions make alot of impact. If you put your hand on a hot stove, then you can’t say it was ‘fate’ that caused your hand to be burned. There is direct causal relationship between putting your hand on the stove and your hand burning. In short, X->Y implies that it was entirely your decision.

An example of something that’s entirely fate would be your friend dying in a car accident. You have absolutely no control over how/when your friend dies, therefore your decision, X, has no relationship to the outcome, Y.
In this case, it’s entirely ‘God’s will’ that let it happen. You could also make an argument that it was your friend’s decision to drive a car or get drunk, but that also depends on whether you believe that everyone else on earth is the same as you. What if other people on earth are not like you, they are merely illusions or machinations and the only causal factor on your life is you? But I’ll leave that for another story.

In any case, our career, finances, relationships, health, all have a degree of control that is attributable to us. Some of these decisions can lead to fate controlling and others up to us entirely.
Example: I don’t write my SATs and I don’t apply to Princeton University => Princeton University doesn’t accept me. This is directly a cause of your decision not to apply. What if I reworded it?
I don’t write my SATs and I apply to Princeton University => Princeton University doesn’t accept me. Now it’s still causal but now the cause is I didn’t write my SATs. What if I do this?
I write my SATs and I apply to Princeton University => Princeton University doesn’t accept me. Now we bring fate into the picture. You did what is required to apply. The things you have control over is your SAT mark, GPA, references, Extracurricular, Essay, etc. But now there is a bit of the uncontrollable factor => The admissions board at Princeton. You have no control over their decisions. So merely by our decisions, we can cause fate to be brought into the picture. Interesting isn’t it?

In conclusion, I highly value Steve Job’s advice and I think that more things are actually under our control than we think. Our decisions might account for more than 50% of our life if we believe that fate can also be influenced by our decision. Those things which are PURELY fate are actually quite rare.


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