Deterministic models imply outcomes are precisely determined through known relationships among states and events.
In math, that means you can attribute the output of the model fully to the parameter values and initial conditions. In life, it means that the choices you make have consequences. And, for better or worse, those consequences drive you.
While life is much more likely parallel to some sort of stochastic view, which accounts for randomness and a variety of other factors, we can really only focus on what we can control. Spending time worrying about things completely out of our reach is truly wasted energy.
The deterministic approach to thinking about life is both naively empowering and, to many, terrifying.
Is it foolish to think that we can determine our own fates? I do not think so. I recognize I come from a place of some privilege, and have had luck play a tremendous role in my own life, but I have seen success stem from sheer hard work alone on countless occasions.
If we work hard enough, we have to believe we can get whatever we want.
Even if that paradigm is not entirely true, I think the "best bet" is to think like that. What is our alternative? To think that no matter what we will not be able to accomplish things that we want? Where will that get us?
The best, and only, mindset we can adopt as we approach the world's biggest problems is to believe that we can get whatever we want, so long as we are prepared to work for it. And when I say work for it, I mean prepare and manage expectations to work indefinitely for it. Success, per this definition, is the direct byproduct of hard work. Time is this universal equalizer.
This sense of curious optimism is the only chance we have. Of course, it is important to balance that frame of mind with contrarian viewpoints - but merely believing in yourself, and empowering your actions to get what you want - that is an incredible feeling.
At the same time, however, this deterministic model can be "scary." How? Well in the same light that implies that your actions can help you get what you want, it also shows that if you fail or mess up, it is on you. All on you. That "pressure" can be tough to internalize.
Did I not work hard enough? Was I not good enough?
It is important to separate success of our output from how we judge personal worth - but evenso, how do we consider these decisions? This mindset means that each and every decision we make has a raised importance.
Our career is a direct product of the choices that we make. And the output is the affect to which we were correct in our choices.
There are really hard questions to answer. Everyone has their own perception on the "best" path to take in life. And while you can get advice from anyone and everyone who is willing to share it with you, at the end of the day it is up to you to make and take the decision. You own it.
And with every decision, there is a trade-off. An opportunity cost that you incur for choosing one thing over the other. Should you take x job? What city? What position? With who? Etc.
That is life.
Life is a sequence of bets. We win on some of them. Lose on most. That is how the cards flop.
The only thing we can do is go all in at the right times. Knowing when to do that can be really challenging.
There is a ton that goes into how we make decisions. An infinite number of factors. I really like this model of thinking when it comes to decision making, particularly "professional decisions":
Let's think of us all as investors. I do not have millions of dollars (yet) to invest, so rather, I'll use time as my resource. Just like an investor, I get to choose how I should allocate my time. Most people invest their money the same way. They spend it on mutual funds or other common stocks. Most teenagers "spend their time" focusing on school. That is a solid option. Just like the S&P 500, school tends to have strong positive returns. But if you want to truly beat the market, and 10x outside of the curve, you have to find ways to diversify your portfolio and spend your time elsewhere.
You have to take bets. You have to take risks. You have to know when to fold, but more importantly when to go all in.
Marc Andreessen, from a16z, says it well:
Over the course of a career, you’re going to make a sequence of bets, Andreessen says: “You’re going to make those bets of the places you choose to go and the people you choose to work with. You’re going to screw some of those up.” And just like in the VC business, it’s wise to understand the difference between two types of errors. Mistakes of commission — losing everything you invest in a company — can be tough, but you’ll get over them in time. Errors of omission — not investing in the first place — will scar you for life. “Every highly successful VC has made mistakes of omission, really big ones, of companies that they had the chance to invest in, they should’ve invested in, they didn’t invest in,” Andreessen says. “Take the bet, lose 1X. Don’t take the bet and possibly miss on 1,000X.”
Far too often, we fold. We stop right before we need to take the leap of faith. Why? A number of reasons.
But, at least once in our life, it makes sense to go all in. The question I pose...for what? What will it take for you to dive head first? What opportunity are you waiting for? What do you need to happen before you really commit?
Is it financial security? A bucket list? Approval from someone?
Find out what that answer is. Most likely, you'll find you do not have one. And instead, the reason you keep folding over and over is simply because you do not want "it" bad enough. What is it? That is up for you to decide.
For me - it has evolved. In elementary school, I wanted to be a college basketball player. Now I watch those guys on TV.
I want to make things better. That is my it. I want to collect a number of unique, unreplicable experiences that leave a positive impact on the way the world spins.
What is stopping me?
In case you have not noticed, this is my new blog (yes I will still be daily blogging) and it is called All In.