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Control or influence

What can you control?  What can you only influence?

 

Knowing what we can control, knowing what we can only influence, and knowing when we probably can do neither brings both peace, power, and empowerment into our life.

 

Most of us have not clarified these distinctions, often acting as if we can control what we cannot and pretending we don’t have control when we do.

Here are examples of situations most of us can control:

  • brushing our teeth

  • making a request of our child to pick up his or her room

  • saying “no” to a request from a friend

  • dialing a telephone number to make an offer

  • walking around the block for exercise

 

Here are examples of situations most of us can only influence:

  • whether or not we ever have cavities

  • whether or not our child picks up his or her room

  • whether or not our friend is upset with us for saying “no”

  • whether or not the person answering the telephone will accept our offer

  • whether or not we will meet someone to talk with on our walk

 

Here are examples of situations none of us can control or influence:

   

  • having inherited the kind of teeth we inherited

  • having a child who has the power to disobey

  • having a friend who will never become upset no matter what we do

  • whether or not the external telephone lines are working

  • whether or not the sun will shine while we are walking

 

As a life coach, I have witnessed countless incidents of frustration, stress, and ineffectiveness as a result of people trying to control what they could not and not choosing to control what they could.

 

Here are some examples:

 

A salesperson is frustrated with being rejected and not making enough sales

    

  • Is she or he consistently taking action to control those conditions over which they do have control, for example, making so many calls per day, keeping statistics, studying rapport techniques, and so on? The answer is usually “no.”

  • Is she or he doing enough to influence those conditions over which they have no control, for example, making so many sales per day, having prospects answer the telephone, and so on, while choosing courage, embracing the fear, and accepting the outcome of any particular condition? The answer is usually “no.”

A mother or father is frustrated with their teenage son’s rebellious and insolent attitude

 

  • Is she or he consistently taking action to control those conditions over which they do have control, for example, establishing doable and effective consequences and rewards, requesting a Partnership Conversation, as well as showing respectful and admiring appreciation to her son? The answer is usually “no.”

  • Are they doing enough to influence those conditions over which they have no control, for example, the tone of voice that their son uses, whether or not he agrees to a particular request, and so on, while choosing courage, embracing the fear, and accepting the outcome of any particular condition? The answer is usually “no.”

A student is stressed out by some upcoming exams

  • Is she or he consistently taking action to control those conditions over which they do have control, for example, establishing regular study times in a good study environment, while allowing some time for leisure and recuperation? Are they taking themselves through the Undoing stress process when needed? The answer is usually “no.”

  • Is she or he doing enough to influence those conditions over which they have no control, for example, exactly what score they will achieve, how the teachers may evaluate their answers, and so on, while choosing courage, embracing the fear, and accepting the outcome of any particular condition? The answer is usually “no.”

 

Distinguishing control, influence, and having neither

  • When we act consistently to affect those conditions over which we have control, then we are choosing power.

  • When we act consistently to affect those conditions over which we have only influence, then we are choosing empowerment.

  • When we fully accept and let be those conditions where we have neither control nor influence, then we are choosing peace and tranquility.

 

A successful life results from consistently exercising both power, empowerment, and letting things be.

 

This requires that we continually make distinctions between what we can control, what we can influence, recognizing that we have varying degrees of influence, and what we can neither control nor influence.

 

Making these distinctions and acting appropriately on them is often a choice of courage.

 

Breathe into the fear and honor yourself for that courage.

       

 

"Most of us will trade anything we have for a good false sense of control."

 –Brad Blanton in Radical Honesty

 

"There is a time to let things happen and a time to make things happen."

–Hugh Prather

 

"If we are not responsible for the thoughts that pass our doors, we are at least responsible for those we admit and entertain."

–Charles Newcomb (Screenwriter and Director)

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