Outcomes: Perceived vs Actual

What happens when your actual outcome doesn’t match your perceived outcome?

You can choose one of two options:

  • Fight to work towards the perceived outcome
  • Live in harmony with the current outcome

Whichever choice you make, there’s no good or bad, right or wrong, positive or negative.

Here’s the thing.

When you keep fighting to work towards the perceived outcome but fail to achieve it, you can get exhausted, disappointed, or even give up entirely.

When you try to be content with the current outcome, you can become unsettled and wondered what if.


The way I’ve learned to respond is deeply rooted in Stoicism.

The Stoics taught us to recognize:

  1. What we can control
  2. What we cannot control

What we can control. The first habit in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is Be Proactive. The central idea is choose your response wisely. For instance, when faced with adversity, you can choose to have empowering or disempowering thoughts and emotions. Someone who is proactive will choose to think empowering thoughts and emotions. On the other hand, a reactive person gives up control by allowing the adversity to affect him adversely.

What we cannot control. There are things we simply have no control over. You probably know it: weather, wives, etc. I’ve used to be a people pleaser. Which means, I will do things so as to win the approval of others. It was not until I met my wife that I come to realize that I cannot control how other people want to think of it.

Third-level of control

I’ve come to realize that in between two ends of the extreme, there is a middle path. That is where there are situations where we have some level of control. For instance, I have no control over whether people will buy what I have to offer. I certainly have control over what I can do to shift their inclination towards my offerings.

With that new level of recognition, it has allowed me to take measured steps towards the perceived outcome, without getting exhausted, disappointed, or eventually to give up.

When faced with your learners, what aspects do you have some level of control?