The closest to being in control we will ever have is in that moment that we realize we are not. – Brian Kessler*
The human desire to be in control is causing untold frustration in relationships today.
Recently, my coaching conversation with one of my clients focused on the classic concept of “circle of control” vs. “circle of concern” … think, cracked egg poured into a skillet for a visual.
The yellow yolk represents that part of life we “control”. The egg white symbolizes the people or situations of “concern”.
I am not using “control” in the broader meaning represented by synonyms manage or management. That raises another question: Does management really control?
What do you really control?
Think about your world. Where do you exercise power or authority? Where are you in position to limit or restrict someone or something?
Look at your relationships; where are you really in control? Where are you trying to be in control?
There are a few people with a high level of self-control. There are some people working on greater self-control. While the majority need to work on self-control.
In fact, human nature presents quite a challenge to this goal of self-control. Have you noticed the inclination of Self to be selfish and actually prefers NOT to be controlled. (Need evidence? Watch childish behavior … no matter the age.)
Although, self-control is a key assignment, how much time and energy are wasted trying to control others, even “situations”.
May I ask … How much time and energy do you waste focused on situations and people in your “circle of concern” but outside your “circle of control”?
Follow the Frustration
If you are not sure how to answer that last question, answer this: How frustrated are you these days?
Frustration is that feeling of disappointment, exasperation, or weariness caused by goals being thwarted or desires unsatisfied. (Encarta Dictionary)
Frustration is an emotiinal indicator of the desire to control. When do you experience frustration? With who? Why? How are your expectations involved?
Where to Focus
Here is the paradox: as we focus on our own growth and responsibilities our “circle of influence” is expanded.
The big question: What do you want – control or influence?
Leadership happens when we quit trying to control and pursue influence.
What’s the cost?
My client’s experience is instructive about the price of an out-of-control desire to be in control; she writes …
If my focus is on these concerns, outside my actual area of control, what happens?
1. I get anxious about those uncontrollable things
2. Overload from trying to control too much
3. I experience failure because I am not really in control
4. Failure saps my strength and will to continue working
The demand plus lack of control leads to FRUSTRATION because the situation does not allow me to succeed. (emphasis added)
There you have it. The “reward” of focusing on situations outside our primary circle of control is frustration. The solution is to narrow your focus.
How do you control that unproductive need to control?
What situation are you trying to control? Who? Why do you think you are?
How will you let go?
What will happen if you don’t?
Please comment below.
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*Brian Kessler, Source: thinkexist.com
Photo Credits Flickr by John Jordon