Our lives and the organizations we belong to depend on two factors: the decisions we make and the external environment. The external environment is made up of all the circumstances that surround us, which we have no control over, or any way to influence.
A person may be smart or foolish, tall or short, French, American or Ethiopian, born in the second half of the 20th century or in the 16th century. These are circumstances that affect us but they are completely out of our hands.
We have to live with them whether we like it or not. Since there is nothing we can do, the best thing is to accept them as the building blocks of our lives.
Wanting to be something you are not and knowing it is out of your control can only be a source of frustration. The best thing is to accept the reality that we are destined to live instead of longing for what might have been. By accepting our environment and realizing that we cannot always solve all of our problems, we can make more logical decisions .
It’s a different story with the other circumstances we encounter in life in which we have the ability to influence. Some things we have total control over and others we merely influence to some extent. We control or influence all of those circumstances through the decisions we make. This is why the outcome of our lives depends on decisions that we make over the years.
Miguel A. Ariño is professor in the Department of Managerial Decision Sciences. He holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Barcelona.
Prof. Ariño is the author of a successful Spanish-language blog on decision making called “Toma de decisiones.”