What You Control, and What You Do Not

Most things are outside of your control. Many of these things are also outside of your sphere of influence.

  • You have no control over your government and, unless you have a lot of money and political clout, you have very little influence. This is also true of world affairs.
  • The overall economy, despite the way things are reported in the news, is far beyond anyone’s control. Presidents and Federal Reserve Bankers take credit for a good economy and take the blame for a poor economy, but they have limited influence.
  • You have no control over your clients. If you do exceptionally good work and build your influence, you may have some sway, some share of mind that allows you to nudge them in a particular direction. But you have no real control.
  • Your competitors do things that you don’t believe are possible. They agree to things that you can’t agree to. They price their offerings so low that it would be impossible for you to follow them and make any money. They are way outside of your control and your influence.
  • You don’t control your employees, peers, or the people you lead. At best, you have influence.

There are, however, a lot of things that you do control.

  • You control whether you are a positive, optimistic person who inspires others, helping them to grow and making a contribution beyond yourself.
  • You control whether or not you believe producing results requires force or persuasion.
  • You control whether you believe that the world is a dangerous place where people have mostly bad intentions or whether it is a place of abundance and opportunity.
  • You control the values you choose to adopt, and how you live those values.
  • You choose the people with whom you decide to surround yourself. You also control how you treat other people.
  • You choose whether to view problems as opportunities or as obstacles. You control whether you believe that failure defines a person or that it is simply an event from which to learn.
  • You control your life’s work and the contribution you decide to make or withhold.

The time and energy you devote to things that are outside of your control is better spent in areas where you have control. We don’t get to choose what happens in the areas where we have no control; we only get to choose our response. The quality of your results is determined by how well you do in the areas you do control, not the areas you don’t.

How much of your focus goes to things you cannot control and things over which you have very limited influence?

How much control do you exercise over the things that are—or should be—completely in your control?

What do you need to do to shift your focus to areas where you should be exercising control? How do you give up focusing in areas that don’t serve you and your goals?

Filed under: Accountability

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