If you’re like many of my clients you’ve probably found yourself in career situations where you are trying to control things that are entirely out of your control. You find yourself trying to do things in just the right way and are overly concerned with how your work compares with others. At times, you perceive a feeling of impending doom if just the slightest thing goes wrong with a project. Talk about pressure! It is in that moment that you have reached a level of control that is actually sabotaging your success, not adding to it.
There are three main reasons why control doesn’t work:
1) It consumes way too much time. When you are being hyper-vigilant in every aspect of a project you are essentially wasting precious time that could be used in developing other aspects: such as creating a stronger concept or idea. When you spend a lot of time trying to perfect something to a degree that is far beyond what is necessary, you are fixating on external factors. This constant focus on external factors may actually cause you to make more mistakes because you are fatigued by worry about things out of your control.
2) It drains your energy. When you think and re-think every action in an effort to control a potentially bad outcome, it drains your energy and focus. Trying to control external factors puts you in a place of defense, not in a place of power. By owning your identity and natural strengths you can navigate how to approach situation with more confidence and less fear.
3) It thwarts your goals. The undeniable truth is that you can’t control things that are not “controllable”. When you waste time focusing on things that are completely out of your control, it makes it difficult to achieve your goals because it takes your focus off of the things that you can improve upon.
I received an e-mail that contains some great advice about how to “control the controllables” Here is an excerpt from a woman named Erin who wrote me to share some wonderful advice from her basketball coach and mentor Dyrick:
“In university, I played basketball for the women’s team. I had, in my opinion, the greatest coach/mentor who taught me everything I needed to know to reach my goals in life. What started as team philosophies, ended up applying to all aspects of my life. Amongst many of his inspiring quotes, one line that has really helped me believe that I ultimately determine my fate in life was, “control the controllables.” When he first said it, it was before we won our Championship game – the first of many times he’s made me feel like a champion. He said, “If you want to win this game, you have to focus on each individual task, one at a time, eventually these seized opportunities will add up… and at the buzzer, you’ll be champions. How are you going to do that? “Control the controllables.” He said, “You can not control the ref’s calls, so don’t dwell on them. You cannot control that your opponent may be bigger and better than you, so don’t think about it. You cannot control the fans screaming things at you, so don’t listen to it. But what you can control is “you.” “Control each shot you make, each defensive move you take on your opponent, each box out, each loose ball, and if you succeed at winning each one of these, you will win this game”.
And she did. This advice led her team to become Champions. Try to focus on the “controllables” in your own life and see how this new focus creates a difference in your career.