Sun Tzu, the famous mind behind the Art of War, studied war throughout his life. As a general, victory wasn’t something he could afford to be glib about. It was literally a matter of life and death. Tzu observed that all victories had one thing in common: they were never won on the battlefield. They were won in royal courts, military tents, and training camps where strategizing and preparation took place. And the best victory was the one in which no blood needed to be shed.
Life has many parallels with war, even in peacetime. Life is a struggle between good and evil. Life is a struggle between love and hate. Life is a struggle between selfishness and nobility. Life is a struggle between success and failure. And wisdom must be brought to bear if outcomes are to be favorable.
An exam isn’t passed or failed when the teacher hands out the paper. An athletic competition isn’t won or lost when the referee blows the whistle. An interview isn’t aced or bombed when the hiring manager asks the first question. A business doesn’t prosper or go bankrupt when the doors are open. A marriage doesn’t succeed or fail when the vows are recited. Health isn’t had or lost when an individual turns 40. Anger isn’t controlled or given free reign when someone utters an insulting word. And temptation isn’t overcome or indulged when the impulse to do evil appears.
If outcomes are predestined, they are predestined in the mind, well in advance of their materialization.