I’ve noticed that many of the times when I’m feeling most stressed are ones when I think life is out of control. Something inside me wants everything to be in order, just so – well perfect, if I’m honest.
But I’m coming to realise that I’m setting myself up for a fall if I think this way. The truth is, we can’t control everything.
If we think about conscious business, leaders and managers who act with both the belief that they can and the desire to create a culture of control will produce an organisation that has a tendency towards fear, rigidity, narrowness, and stagnation. Those they lead will not be encouraged to think, innovate, and express their concerns and hopes.
On the other hand, if everyone understands that there are limits to how much life can be under control, we shall see a more flexible, agile, and organic atmosphere pervading the entire organisation.
Now as an accountant, I’m not giving up on the place for appropriate controls. Good systems have their place but I’ve yet to see perfect ones. An awareness of their limitations will mean we are mentally better prepared to deal with the problems that inevitably arise from time to time.
Here are some thoughts I have had on how to cope with the impossibility and undesirability of control:
1. Think humbly – if we don’t chose to be humble, we may end up humiliated.
2. Accept uncertainty.
3. Concentrate on ‘right inputs’ if you can’t control ‘guaranteed outputs.’
When I deal with issues, particularly people ones, I’m learning to make the comments I feel appropriate (which may need to gestate for a while) rather than thinking I have to resolve everything immediately.
4. Have the mentality, “I’m trying to help people, rather than be perfect.” (My thanks to Paul Hopwood for that one.)
5. Be open – to input from others, to new ideas.
And I know I can’t control what you think about this. But perhaps as long as we are thinking a bit more, that’s better than living under an illusion of control.