Monday, April 18, 2011

When You Lose Control

There are some things about which you can do nothing.

For some of us they are far more numerous than we believe.

However, for most of us, the opposite is true.

The number of things over which we have influence is beyond measure.

And yet, we tend not to see it.


My guess is that we've adopted the binary (either or) system of influence, i.e., control.

When considering whether or not we can do something (in response to challenging situations, other people's issues, the global economy, etc.), we typically consider the question, "over what do I have control?"

The problem is that there is in fact very little if anything over which any of us has actual control.

Strike that.

There's absolutely nothing
over which any of us
has actual control.

Control is at best an illusion and at worst a scam.

Whenever we honestly estimate our power to control something we come up empty. All the myths, scams and lies fade to black leaving a dark void.

And we feel powerless.

The problem is not that we can't control things (we never could); the problem is that we believed we could control things (and we never could).

Often times the illusion of control is so strong that when confronted with the recognition of the obvious (that things are out of control), we're stunned.



Of course, there would be no dismay were we to have recognized that we were never in control in the first place.

All any of us ever has is influence.

The problem with influence is that we completely undervalue it and we're typically no good at it. Given the choice, we'll always opt for control rather than influence.

Put me in charge…

Make me the boss…

If I were running things…

But even when made the boss, even when elected to office, even when put in charge, we still have no control.

Given a position of authority, others will often be compliant with our direction. Yet their compliance is not attributable to control, it results from aligned goals and expectations. Knock them out of alignment and control evaporates.

All this is of course great news!

Great news for anyone who feels that life is out of control.

You my friend have taken the first steps towards recovery: recognition and perhaps even acceptance.

Your kid just bounded through the door and defiantly showed you the new stud piercing his left nostril, the one that you'd vehemently prohibited.

Your best employee just resigned because she's taking a new job with a competing firm.

Your mom's boyfriend called to tell you she's in the ICU and he's not sure what's happening.

The toilet that had been leaking a bit is now leaking a lot and you can't get any plumbers to return your phone calls.

The doctor just told you it's cancer.

Do things seem out of control? They are! And nothing's changed, except you.

It's time to learn influence.

Time to...

...better understand the motivations of the people whom you can't control.

...figure out how to align goals and expectations.

...get people to do what you want because they want to.

...understand what's in it for them.

Time to let loose the reigns of control and learn influence.

Happy Monday,

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