Jan Bosch is a research center director, professor, consultant and angel investor in start-ups. You can contact him at jan@janbosch.com.

Opinion

You don’t control anything

Leestijd: 4 minuten

One realization that I had recently (only to show that I’m not too bright) is how much energy we all spend on controlling our environment and trying to keep everything the same. The trigger was a car trip from Gothenburg to Stockholm during one of the warmest days in Sweden this summer. Unfortunately, the air conditioning in the car had broken down right before the trip and the inability to keep the temperature in the car within a narrow band led to a significant amount of complaining during the ride.

We’re always looking to control our environment, including the temperature inside our homes, the safety of the area we live in and the selection in the supermarket we shop in. Even the climate change activists who constantly lament about the climate changing seem to forget that the climate has been changing continuously for eons. Companies plan and budget for the coming quarters and years and managers get rewarded for their accuracy in predicting the future. In the same way our bodies use homeostasis to create a stable system, we’re constantly looking to address the deviations from an anchoring point we consider ideal.

In many ways, our desire to control our environment is a great asset. As George Bernard Shaw so eloquently said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” And over the last century or so, humankind has seen more progress than during its entire history combined. Based on all metrics that we use to measure quality of life for everyone on the planet, life has never been better. And it’s driven by our constant desire to control our environment and avoid bad outcomes.

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