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OUT OF CONTROL

February 25, 2014

We've all known control freaks. You know them as the folks who have to know everything, be sure everything is and will be perfect, who obsess over even the smallest issues to the detriment of the bigger ones, who must be in charge, who are unable to delegate effectively, who dominate conversations and who worry their life away. You may even be one of them.

I certainly have a bit of this within me. It has dissipated over the years, but even today, I still have to guard against it. At some point along my career path I discovered that letting go worked better than holding on. The natural order of things is closer to chaos than control. In fact, we only control a small part of what happens. The good news for all of us, including the control freaks, is that we do have 100% control over how we deal with it.

The world is out of control. The sooner we accept this, the happier and more effective we are. So many of us go through life and never understand this. They bemoan when unexpected things happen — which is most of the time. A healthier approach is to accept whatever happens. Take what happens and influence it, shape it and mold it into something better.

View unexpected changes as simply new paths to learning and growing. We are all stronger and better than our mind allows us to think we are. It takes these unexpected events to show us the way to a deeper existence.

What does this have to do with leading? Everything. Leading is about embracing these changes and becoming better because of them. It is about encouraging others to navigate these changes with you. It is about rising above the randomness of life and directing it in a way that adds value. This is not about trying to control the outcome. This leads to worry, stress and unnecessary anxiety. It is about doing your best and letting what happens, happen — and then controlling your reaction to the result.

Accepting that you are not in control of what happens to you, and never will be, is a big step. A bigger step is to make sure you clearly understand what you do control — your response. Make it positive, supportive, creative, caring, thoughtful, healthful, competent, humble and respectful. Use the change to validate why you are leading. Use the change to help others. Use the change to become better. Use the change to continue your commitment to always do your best.

The world is out of control, but you don't have to be. Let the world work its magic. Then you work yours.