(#354) What Can You Really Control?

Perhaps understanding and accepting the uncertainty
will allow you to see additional choices and paths to success.

Last week seven words focused my attention.

Are you afraid to ad-lib your life?

Do you have to script each moment as you attempt to control each outcome (professional or personal) of your day? Unfortunately, too often I attempt to do that. And I exhaust myself!  The good news: I am aware.  I am a work in progress.

Scripting allows me the illusion of control. More so, it feeds my need to control. I create an urgency that commands (and commends!) me to orchestrate every step of the journey with the intent to control all outcomes.  And it drives me to distraction.

We have to recognize that we do have control over our thoughts, words, and actions. Think of a goal you reached.  It originated with a thought, you put it to words, and you took action. To a certain degree, you maintained control over the goal process. But you really could not control the outcome.  So many other factors came into play.


Before any presentation, I take responsibility for the preparation process:  my words, visuals, mode of presentation, research, my handouts, speech patterns, and mannerisms.  I hope that my rehearsal and attention to detail will produce a certain outcome for the audience.

The reality remains that I cannot control the audience outcome.  Sure, I can say with a bit of certitude that certain demonstrations will invariably produce this result or that.  But I have no control over who walks into the room that day. Or what they have just experienced in their personal lives.

At times, I torture myself with whether or not a flight will be on time or a connection through Atlanta gives me enough time to dash to the next concourse.  No matter how meticulously I plan the itinerary, I have zero control over delays.  Yes, I can attempt to minimize the chances for delays. But I have zip for influence.  On days that I accept that certainty, I feel more relaxed.

When my wife went through chemotherapy, initially and naively I attempted to control the situation. I quickly discovered (what my wife already knew) that I could not control the dropping of her blood counts. In fact, those blood counts became a certainty throughout treatment that neither of us could do much to control. I had to learn how to handle that and the entire process. Once I did, I became a better partner for that journey.


There will always be uncertainty. For my own wellbeing, I have to accept (embrace?) that ambivalence. Whether it is an audience reaction, the success of a podcast, the on-time arrival of a connecting flight, or the sales of a book, there is only so much Stevie can do.  When I lose that perspective, I go into a downward spiral of stress. And I am not much good to anyone, least of all myself.

You may have worked for a boss who attempted to control everything—every little step and process—of your day.  How did you feel? Maybe you are that dominating boss. How’s that working for your health and those you lead? (Do you really think your employees awaken each morning, stretch their arms over their heads, and say, “Gee, I can’t wait to get to work so my supervisor can attempt to control every step of my day, belittle me, and browbeat me. I am so motivated!”)

When it comes to the need to control, consider addressing the underlying issues at hand. What is it you really need? Can you get beyond answers like, “I need to meet my quarterly numbers”?  What are the underlying motivations for a control obsession?

Understanding and accepting the uncertainty may allow you to see additional choices and paths to success. And, by chance, you may be able to ad-lib a bit of your day.

Video recommendation for the week:

Times of change can lead us to control what semblance of an old order we can lasso. That is not change management. That resembles someone attempting to manage disappointment.  An older video of mine reminds us that when it comes to change we have a four-step process. You will notice that control does not factor into the equation.


Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my new book, Stories About Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here.

You can subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here.

Check out my latest podcasts at The Growth and Resilience Network™

Check out my website  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).

(c) 2017. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

About stevepiscitelli

Community Advocate-Author-Pet Therapy Team Member
This entry was posted in Anxiety, awareness, change, change management, creating your future, Critical Thinking, decision making, Discipline, empathy and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to (#354) What Can You Really Control?

  1. Pingback: (#355) Go-Go or No-Go? | Steve Piscitelli

  2. Pingback: (#397) A Blogger’s Retrospective: 2017 in Review | The Growth and Resilience Network®

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