Why You Kant Always Win.

“In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

No matter what you do, someone will consider or bring up something that is not the intended result of your action.

  • Write a blog post: did you see that typo in the 2nd paragraph?
  • Bring cinnamon bread to toast: Is it gluten free?
  • Bring donuts: are they vegan?
  • Bring cake: I’m on a diet.
  • Bring pie: thanks, I wish we had some cake too.

I know deep down inside me that those comments were not made to upset me, or disparage what I did, but these moments still deflate me. My intention did not become a perfectly winning result. After a lifetime of watching this happen you might resolve to stay in bed, pull the covers over your head, and give up trying… anything.

The trouble really starts with one word.


Did you WIN? Winning is a weird word. It relies so much on context. A win for one person can be a loss for another. Even winning the lottery can ultimately end up being the worst thing that ever happened to you. After a while it feels like you can’t win for trying. Or maybe you Kant win for trying. As always the ancients have stolen our best ideas.

Trust the process

Act in such a way that each person is an ends themselves rather than a means to an end.

What Immanuel Kant is talking about is that we can’t rely on the ends to justify the means. As long as we are doing our best, as long as we are guided by love and empathy and earnest hard work, we can’t worry about what will happen as a result of our activity. That doesn’t mean to forget about goals, it means that the one of your primary goals needs to be how you carry out your daily decisions and then just trust others in THEIR process to handle the results of your activity in the best light possible.

Some people will do this better than others, but you can’t let the fear of a bigger fish ruin the fact that you are a beautiful fish swimming the the ocean of life. Just keep swimming. Trust the process. Bake that pie and share it as often as you can.


Note 1: The featured image was created by me, David Theriault, as a part of a classroom activity where we used the art created by Javier Perez aka Cintascotch as inspiration for creating re/mixing our own art in class. Here is the image I created.

Note 2: The quote was found during an activity where students were invited to our school library to share books they loved and books they wanted to read. Then they were asked to write down a line they loved from the book. Then we did a gallery walk of the quotes. I wrote down the quote from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy on our gallery walk.

Note 3: I wrote this post as part of a “you do, I do challenge.” I asked my students to use their Cintascotch drawing and ONE of the quotes they liked from their school library gallery walk to create a short piece of writing for their online student blogs. We just did this today and I wanted to see how long it would take me. I wrote this post in 40 minutes, in class, while writing alongside my students. I think it’s super important that teachers do what they ask their students to do so that we stay in their zone of proximal development. I will share some of my students posts after the weekend once I have read them and asked their permission to share.

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