We often conflate and confuse effort and outcomes – to our detriment.
An outcome is something we can work towards, but ultimately it’s not completely within our control. It’s at least partially determined by external factors: the market, the weather, the thoughts and opinions of others.
Our own effort – including it’s magnitude and direction – is within our control. And it’s only through the application of our own effort that we can pursue preferable outcomes.
Effort is the hammer, outcomes are the nail.
When we reflect on our actions at the end of the day, it’s tempting to review our performance based on outcomes. Did we achieve what we wanted? Did we get the preferred outcome? While these are helpful to be aware of, they should not be the measures of our success.
Effort is a much better yardstick for evaluation. Did we apply our effort in the wisest, most just and courageous manner? This is a much more constructive question, because it focuses on what we can control.
If we didn’t apply our effort correctly, it may have compromised the outcome, but it will rarely, if ever, have been the sole determining factor.
If we optimise our application of effort, the outcomes will take care of themselves.