Archives for posts with tag: Control

When I look back on individual short-term events in my life, or over long-term things like career, health and so on, I find that I have allowed external factors to shape and evolve me. I have on occasion rolled with the punches, got caught up in the forward momentum and gone with the flow.

I’ve not been in control. I have allowed the focus of control to be external of me, rather than internal to me.

I think it’s important to level-set every so often and endeavour to take back control. Take back control in everything from individual decisions to relationships with other people or entities and to strategy for companies and organisations. Not at the expense of others, that’s not what I mean here. I mean to be active, positive, current, engaged and decisive.

Yes, an important part of assessing our strengths and weaknesses is also assessing the opportunities and threats that are outside our control. Yes, sometimes we have to play the hand we are dealt.

But, if that hand is not what we like, or has developing into something that we don’t like, do we have the option to walk away, and play another game? A game that gives us back control?

It’s about options, isn’t it? If it is, then it’s about taking back control, because without it our options are poorer and more limited.

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It’s easy to be self-absorbed, and to think that everything revolves around us, and is geared to us. After all, the human race has been doing it for centuries, believing that the earth was the centre of the solar system. We still do it.

Aren’t we lucky that the earth is revolving at thousands of miles an hour and we don’t fall off, or over?

Aren’t we lucky that we can eat so much that naturally grows around us?

Aren’t we lucky that the composition of the air around us is OK for breathing?

Isn’t it great that we’re naturally suited to a planet with nice ambient temperatures in the -50 to +50 range?

Er, no to all of that…

We have it the wrong way round of course. We forget that we are the product of millions of years of evolution, that we have gradually chiselled ourselves to fit the environment, not the other way round.

The man-made world is geared around our bodies, the position of the sensory organs within our frame, our dimensions, and what makes us exist. As Mark Twain once said – and I’m paraphrasing here – isn’t it great that my glasses fit perfectly round my ears? You can make the same argument for bikes, cars, keyboards, everything.

I’m sure we wouldn’t devote as much priority to bedrooms in our houses if we didn’t spend a third of our lives in them. We sleep on average 8 hours a night. Aren’t we lucky we have comfy beds and nice bedrooms with calming, tranquil decor?

Looking at things the right way round – not the wrong way round – and putting what’s important at the centre of our thinking, rather than ourselves, helps us be better people, better marketers, better business people, better politicians.

Life would be much better without stress, without those mini- or major panic attacks that I have to assume consume us all from time to time.

Whether it’s our work commitments or other aspects, they can prompt some fairly unhealthy moods. After all, it’s hard to stay positive all the time.

Sometimes I feel myself getting pulled into the eddy of such a situation, and it’s easy to forget that there are tricks to get yourself out of them. Well, they work for this writer at any rate. I find that the best way to confront a panic attack is to rationalise it, put it in context with something else.

‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ is the question I ask myself. Really, when you think about it this way, the worst that could happen – unless it’s one of those few-in-a-life-time occurrences where you you need help and a much more profound approach – is generally not much at all. You might miss a deadline, or a bus, or a plane. So what? You still have your health, your family, your friends. When you look back at this situation, it’s going to barely register as a blip, if you’re even concerned about it now.

Stepping outside of your own thoughts for a moment and comparing your current lot to potentially the worst version of it – which will almost never happen – is the reality shift you need to get out of neutral, shake off the paralysing inertia and get moving again.

You can’t change the past. You can only affect the future and enjoy the present. Is there any other way to work and live than to remember that every day of your life is not a dress rehearsal?

‘What if?’ looks forward. You have freedom, flexibility, options. Above all you have control.

‘If only’ looks back. If only I’d done that, we’d tried that, and so on. It’s in the past tense. It’s done. You can’t change it. You can’t control it. Sure, you can learn from it, but it’s unhealthy to dwell on it. Otherwise, you become bitter with the failures, and complacent with the successes.

In business, as in life, we should be make sure we’re dealing with the ‘what ifs’ and not the ‘if onlys’.