28 January, 2011

Chance doesn't exist - and then it does again

When planning my own projects, thinking about the future, or just generally trying to picture the results of my actions in some future state, I've found it generally useful to think that chance doesn't exist. For sure, this is not true, and borders on the fallacious logic that I so hate - but it still helps. Convincing myself that success is not dependent on chance, but only on my own performance, widens the horizon of possibilities that seem achievable. I quote here Anders Ericsson, professor of psychology at Florida State Univeristy:
On one hand it's encouraging: it makes me think that even the most ordinary among us should be careful about saying we can't do great things, because people have proven again and again that most people can do something extraordinary if they're willing to put in the exercise. On the other hand, it's a bit overwhelming to look at what these people have to do. They generally invest about five times as much time and effort to become great as an accomplished amateur does to become competent. It's not something everyone's up for."
I guess this is the key note I'm looking for, that basically the world is open to everyone. With practice and dedication, great things can be achieved. This is also the key reason why I'm always saying that people should do what they like best. Sure, it's no easy task focusing on something, but I feel confident it'll pay off sooner or later. (Looking at the text behind the link, I'm not sure if I can call the belief for no chance a very rationalist belief...)

After having done something, however, the concept of chance is quite important. It would be psychologically too much to try to find the fault always in oneself, so it's useful to have a concept to explain not-so-wanted results. In some discussions I've experienced, that some people claim the concept of chance gives us a chance to escape bad result and not improve ourselves. Well, in a way, it does. 

But there is still a fundamental difference between analyzing what you could have done better, and then saying you found nothing, or on the other hand blaming chance right from the start. It is after the self-reflection when chance can be brought into the picture, not before. If you've honestly done your best, there's no way to make it better that time. The point here is that chance will help you psychologically to accept that nobody's a Superman. Development is incremental, and there's no point in trying to see all the deficits in one go, it'd just make one feel terrible. Better to improve all the time in small steps. That's what the concept of chance helps me to do.

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