Outcome Dependency and Leadership

(My new posting schedule is Tuesdays, Thursdays, and the occasional Saturdays. If any guest posts are in the queue, they will be posted on Saturdays.)

[This is a guest post from Mans who runs Pure Nootropics. He is an avid biohacker and self-tracker interested in optimizing the mind for the best decision making. You can find him on Twitter discussing meditation, smart drugs, and variety of other health principles.]

In a recent Vipassana meditation retreat, I was educated in the philosophy of freedom from attachment. Conceptually, it is hard to understand without first experiencing the grueling 10-day silent retreat that I endured. However, applied to leadership and personal growth, there are a wealth of examples that can improve your life and success.

Decision Making with Tunnel Vision

Having a burning desire to succeed is not wrong, but when hinging your existence on the failure or success in any endeavor is unhealthy and can undermine your efforts. Even though western culture and philosophies often praise hard work and dedication (rightfully so), they often forget to address how to accept failure with a balanced mind.

Any leader that is forced to make decisions needs to maintain the most balanced mind possible. If a leader is fearful of a certain outcome, for example going bankrupt with the business, then decisions will be made with that fear in mind. Suddenly the decision making process becomes altered and the leader’s love for his own company impairs his ability to maintain success in the long-term.

Depending on an outcome can be detrimental for leaders in any industry or walk of life. A mountain climber that is too attached to reaching the top may end up in dangerous or life threatening situations, while a balanced mind can help them to evaluate the terrain, take precautions, and find a different route to success.

Steps to Avoid Outcome Dependency

Step 1 – What’s the worst that can happen? No matter what you are doing, the “worse case” scenario isn’t all that bad. You can rebuild and remake whatever was lost and you typically have a larger pool of experiences (aka: lessons!) to learn from.

Step 2 – Notice your emotions. If you are feeling sad, scared, or angry about a certain outcome, notice the emotions. Do not try to suppress them, but just acknowledge their existence. Then avoid making decisions until they are cleared.

Devotion to a goal is a great way to achieve, but leaders must see attachment for what it is. Attachment is ego cleverly disguised. By taking clear steps to avoid becoming dependent on an outcome, you will feel more liberated and at peace with the world. This liberation and clear head is exactly what successful leaders need in order to make decisions.

There is no “right” decision to make in life or your business, only decisions made “rightly”. With a clear and balanced mind, you can make the best decision with the given facts and understanding of the world. If emotions and attachment enter the process, leaders are bound for failure.

Question: How do you maintain a balanced life and  mind?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Mans, I have seen leaders make bad decisions more than once because of outcome dependency. It seems to me that it’s sort of a vicious circle that people get trapped into. For me it’s important to get the help of someone outside of my context who is not dependent upon the outcome. This can help me clear my tunnel vision and detach myself from the outcomes.

    • Great point about getting help from someone outside of the situation. Thank you for adding to the post.

    • Mansal

      Absolutely. Leaders have plenty of strong suits, but often their flaws deal with this outcome dependency.

  • I like the advice. I’ve learned along life’s merry way and through Biblical principles that what we have on the outside doesn’t define who we are. I’ve also learned that the victory and gratification is in process of the striving and even struggle. It’s good to ponder this subject and it’s an enjoyable one to boot! Nice job and thoughts.

    • I totally agree, it’s about who we are on the inside that really counts. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • I definitely feel its by making mistakes that you are able to correct the errors of the past and make new decisions to move forward.

    • Great point, failure and mistakes are only stepping stones toward success. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • Mansal

      Sometimes I embrace hard times / mistakes. It’s the only way to grow!

  • I think is really well put :There is no “right” decision to make in life or your business, only decisions made “rightly”. It’s just that little distinction that makes a huge difference.

    I’ve always found outcome dependency to be a difficult issue. We should all set goals for ourselves – ones that we really want to accomplish. But we’re not always going to achieve them and we have to be careful about that. If you’re too dependent on it you might be setting yourself up for a big fall. There’s got to be a way to balance those sides to maintain a healthy mindset.

    • WOW, I totally missed this comment until now. So sorry, Steve.

      Yes, decisions made “rightly” is key. We can’t let our goals define us, or if we achieve them or not. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.