Case I: You have an exam in a week and you study hard. You go through all the relevant chapters thoroughly, do all the exercises properly, and remember all the relevant sections that are going to appear. The day before the exam, you revise once again so that you make sure there are no loose ends and to be absolutely sure of whatever you have studied thus far.
Case II: You have a job interview in a week. It’s a technical interview with questions pertaining to your area of expertise. You think a week’s too much time and that the preparation for the interview can be delayed to day 5. On day 5, something urgent comes up and you’re unable to work on anything related to the interview. Finally on day 6, with one day on hand, you mug up whatever best you can, surf the internet for theories and exercises, quickly brush through the concepts, and on the last moment, rush to get a printout of the resume and haphazardly appear for the interview.
What do you think the result is going to be in both the cases? Case I obviously seems to be more favorable scenario to get the desired outcome, i.e. success.
The X and Y Factors
If you have read my previous post on the Equation of Life, you would have come across the concept of the X and the Y factors of a person’s life.
Simply put, the X factor is the self factor, that part of a person’s life which is completely in his/her control. The Y factor or the divinity factor is that part of a person’s life which is in the hands of, say, the Divine (Universe, God etc.).
Thus, while sitting on the front seat and driving the car to office in the morning on a normal day is your X factor, coming up with an unexpected traffic jam on the way due to a damaged truck in the middle of the road is your Y factor in that particular situation.
All our lives are a constant interplay of the X and the Y factors. All the things that happen and the people we meet ‘accidentally’ (aka without any control or desire of our selves) is best ascribed to the Y factor while everything we can control is our X.
The Constant Sum Game
The part where it gets interesting is when we look at the combination of the X and the Y factors as they affect the events of our lives.
For example, in the above two cases, it is quite clear that the likelihood of success is much more in Case I, where you prepare your best, as compared to Case II, where you’re going haphazardly without much preparation on your part.
For the interview for which you’re not much prepared, there is a higher chance of the interviewer asking a question you don’t know the answer to. Thus there is a higher likelihood of screwing up the interview.
Of course there is no guarantee that because you prepared well for the exam you will score well. There may be a natural calamity on the same day, the papers might have been leaked already leading to cancellation of the exam completely, or you may get sick a day before the exam leaving it impossible for you to appear. A thousand other things may happen which could ensure you don’t do well in the exam… Y factor at its play.
Thus, the outcome of all our actions is dependent on the self, the X, and on the divine, the Y. Further, if our X is strong, there’s little room for Y to interfere.
As shown in the graph below:
So what’s this graph all about?
With everything that we do, be it preparing for the exam or the interview, or any other endeavor in life, we begin at 0. This is the state of the clean slate.
In every endeavor of our life, we want a desired outcome. While preparing for the exam or the interview for example, success, qualitative or quantitative, is the desired outcome. This is the maximum possible result depicted by number 1, the outcome that we want.
We begin from 0 and the more effort we make by ourselves, the higher on the graph upwards towards 1 we reach through our effort and the less scope we leave for the Y to play its role.
Simply put, X + Y = 1
Thus, the closer you get to 1, the desired result through X, i.e. your own effort and planning, the little room Y will get to play along, and hence the better will be your chances of achieving the outcome.
The far from the desired result of 1 you will be through X, the more scope you are leaving for the Y to play its role. Then it would be up to Y to decide what to do with you.
And when things are in Y’s hands, you may be lucky or unlucky. 50-50.
For safeguarding purpose, let us assume that Y will give us shit at all times, that Y will only mess things up.
If such is the case, why leave anything to Y at all?
Do we already know this? Probably Yes.
Do we still not put our best effort every time and leave things to Y? Probably Yes.
Examples of where you and I end up leaving the outcome to Y:
- Speaking on phone or worse, texting while driving. This leaves a huge scope for Y to bring some irresponsible idiot on the road right in front of you and screw your life along with theirs. Same goes with too much drinking or thinking while driving.
- Going unprepared for exams. Particularly in college (we are relatively more obedient in school). This also leaves a great scope for Y to come up with a question paper which blows you up completely, and not in a healthy manner.
- Not working hard and hoping that money and fame will come to you on their own. Why? Because You are special. Well. What was our assumption? That Y will give us shit at all times. Neither money nor fame is happening without X giving in sweat and blood.
- Not thinking through before organizing an event or conducting a performance and hoping that the things will go well on the stage. Well, things go well when they are planned and organized.
The more we leave on the table for the Y to play with, the less are the chances of us getting what we desire.
Think-it-over: Are you waiting for something to happen in your life? Something which will take all your worries away? Waiting for the Y to give you luck and happiness? Please allow me to remind you that the Y only fills the gap that X leaves.
The question is not what the Y is doing for you. The question is what you are doing with your X to get what you want.
As a side note, is it possible to get to 1 using X at all times, leaving nothing for Y at all? Well, there wouldn’t be much of a different between you and God if you could do that.