Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Life's Feedback Control System

Life's Feedback Control System

"The only target is to improve. I will look at the match video after we have played and if I see 10 mistakes, I will try to correct one. The next time I will try to correct another. And in three months maybe there will be only two mistakes in a game. That would be good enough."
- my favourite quote from Rafael Benitez, the new Liverpool FC manager.

Often when we are asked to state what we want to achieve out of life, we cannot or dare not articulate them clearly for various reasons: fear of failure is one of them; lack of confidence could be another. We even try not to think too much about it because it feels very discouraging to set huge targets only to see them slip further away from us everyday.

Well, I think the task of achieving success in life shouldn't be such a daunting affair. If for some reason we feel that we are not worthy of our innermost dreams, let's change the paradigm a little bit and just set the "easier" goal of making ourselves a slightly better person everyday. The only target is to improve. That shouldn't be too difficult.

Improvement can come in many ways; even seemingly trivial things do help to contribute to our overall cause of achieving our dreams. We can for example learn to be less easily agitated over small things; if we cultivate such a habit, we learn to be calmer in our handling of our everyday affairs, thus making less mistakes in the long run and achieving better results more consistently.

A pilot does not set the direction of his plane just once before take-off and expect his aircraft to land at its intended destination. Instead he (or the onboard computer) makes many tiny little adjustments throughout the entire duration of the flight to correct deviations due to changes in wind speed and air turbulence.

Having grandiose targets alone is not enough; we also need to put in place what engineers call a feedback control system. Every seemingly insignificant experience in life is an opportunity to produce data that could help us realign our course.

Every encounter with the external world exposes certain weaknesses within us. The feedback control system must kick in immediately to correct these tiny little deviations, which if left unchecked can set us off-target.

Like what motivational guru Anthony Robbins likes to say: "There are no failures, only results". And results are the data for life's feedback control system to make the necessary corrections. The key to success is ensuring that this feedback control mechanism continues working incessantly.

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