"No matter what you set out to accomplish, if you engage the project determined to control the outcome you will be confused and confounded throughout. Some things will go well for you, and when you think you have the key to understanding other things will go badly. It may be that you do something well twice before it goes badly once. If you are happy that it went well twice, you will think you are onto something, but then it will go badly again. This is because you are trying to force the outcome by applying the same tactics to every situation instead of letting every situation flow of its own accord." - Yagyu Munenori
I wonder how many times I have tried to control the outcome and failed - that I went to something with a predetermined cast of mind of how things would be resolved in the end. Just sitting here thinking aloud, I can name several: The Firm, Da Derga, all the plans I held dear before we came to New Home.
Can one predetermine an outcome? A tricky slope at best. There is, I believe, something to the idea that thinking through and practicing something with a desired outcome in mind adds value, and that mental visualization of the end gives one a goal to shoot for. At the same time, as Otis would tell me, outcomes (at least in business) are as random and fickle as the wind: on one hand, endless effort will product nothing while on the other a chance comment will generate a success.
Can an outcome truly be predetermined? It would seem no - there is so much that we are not in control of, both outside events and people as well as internal (let's face it - we can't even control much of our bodies, let alone the world around us).
But there are things that we can control, things that we can use to influence events in our favor. Be ready, of course. Set our goaks and plan. Polish our skills and our words. Train ourselves to think in a way that we do what we set out to do.
And the outcome? If we are ready, if we have practiced, if we have skill, then we are ready. The situation, whatever it is, will flow and can be directed because we have not already determined how it should come out.