“Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Here’s an obvious statement: there are a lot of things in our lives and careers that we have absolutely no control over. Weather, people, governments – the list goes on and on. And a lot of these uncontrollable things are pretty significant. In other words, we will all repeatedly have to deal with situations that are extremely impactful that we have no control over.
That doesn’t sound too good. The idea that some crazy stuff could happen and we wouldn’t have any control over it – and it could be really serious – is a little terrifying. Maybe a lot terrifying. So many leaders obsess & stress about those kinds of things and it wears them out. They like to feel that they’re in control, and eventually they have to admit that they aren’t.
Admitting that we aren’t in control of uncontrollable events isn’t the problem. The problem is the belief that we aren’t in control of any events. Too many leaders believe that since they can’t control a few things, it’s pointless to try & do anything at all. The organization they lead has a bad year and their response is something like “Well, there’s nothing we really could have done about any of it.”
Perhaps they couldn’t have done anything about those events. But they could have done something to be prepared for those events when they happen. And they could have done something to deal with those events after they happened.
Think about your business. Remember that I said some of these things are uncontrollable; I didn’t say they were all entirely unpredictable. What are the big, uncontrollable things that you can see on the horizon? What might a competitor do that would cause big problems? What might the government do that would revolutionize your industry? Most importantly, what can you do to prepare for all of that?
The point is to make sure that you as a leader don’t allow yourself to fall into the We-can’t-do-anything-about-anything crowd. You can’t let yourself give in to the belief that you aren’t able to impact your business, your environment, your people, etc. As soon as you give in to that belief, you’ll stop attempting to make an impact because, why bother? It will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It’s OK to acknowledge that you can’t control everything. In fact, it’s necessary. Make sure though, that you are controlling the things you can control. You have the ability to make a difference. Believe it.