Have you ever felt out of control? I know I have and I bet you have too. There are some critical areas of our life that, if we’ll take them back, we will regain the control we need and want.
One of the greatest and most often attributed qualities of great leaders is that they control the controllables. It is waste of time to worry about things that are outside of your control. So, if you spent your time focusing on controlling what you can and increasing your effectiveness in those areas, don’t you think you’d be radically more successful than you are now?
I used to work for a commercial cleaning company as a supervisor and sales rep. The woman who was my supervisor drove me up the walls with her anxiety and our personalities clashed in a major way. Granted, I was 22, a new father, straight out of college and generally believed I knew everything about anything. But I felt completely out of control in my job and that spread to my life at home.
While my supervisor had her own shortcomings (as we all do), she wasn’t the problem. I was! I was trying to control something that was outside of my control. I can’t control another human (neither can you, in case you were wondering). I can influence them, but not control them.
Once I realized that I didn’t have to fight for control of something that I would never be able to control, I discovered that I felt more peace in my job and life. I’m sure my wife and son were thrilled. Now, I enjoy a friendly relationship with my former supervisor and speak well of her.
During an episode of The EntreLeadership Podcast, the host, Chris Hogan, identified three key things that we should never give up control of. Looking back, these were the things that I released control of that caused me so much frustration. Here they are:
1. My attitude. While I won’t minimize others’ influence on your attitude, at the end of the day, your attitude falls squarely on you. Your attitude functions like a set of glasses and can color how you see, hear, or interpret the world and people around you.
2. My outlook. Your outlook should be how you choose to see life. Not how someone else tells you to view life. This is easy to fall into. Supervisors, friends, and even celebrities can influence your outlook. It is fine to allow some influence, but make sure the final decision is yours.
3. My responses. Have you ever heard the expression, “don’t let them get your goat”? (personally, I don’t have a goat so I feel I’m safe from the goat thieves out there). My Dad would tell me this repeatedly as a teenager, and while it sounds like an odd expression he was teaching me something very important. There are people around us that want to provoke us and know how to push our “buttons”, but if we give in to their prodding then we have surrendered control of ourselves to these people. And, most of the time, these are the last people you would ever want to give control to.
These 3 things have to be proactively protected. It is never enough to intellectually acknowledge these areas and then go on auto-pilot and drift through life. If you want to take control of your life, then you are going to have to be intentional.
Control of these areas isn’t a destination you reach. It is a continual process and discipline. There will always be someone who wants control of your life in one way or another. Will you let them?
[reminder]If you’ve ever felt out of control in your life, how did you get it back?[/reminder]