“I Surrender” – Why Taking Control Means Letting Go

“Control what you can control. Don’t lose sleep worrying about things that you don’t have control over because, at the end of the day, you still won’t have any control over them.” ~ Cam Newton

The bigger the job, the more complex the problem, the more crowded the market, the more things seem to be spiralling out of control.

There have been moments in my career where every day feels like a frenetic game of whack-a-mole. Every time you move one task forward, another slips behind or falls over. There’s a reason they liken it to spinning plates!

Control Cam Newton

As a leader – as somebody who a team of people are looking towards in the hope that there is a calm, stable, confident captain at the helm – it can be tempting to think you need to wrestle all of the moving parts and put on a brave face. To move faster to spin the slowing plates in the hope that you can keep everything together.

Your body starts to respond with a stress response. Your breathing speeds up and becomes more shallow. Your ability to sleep well declines, your ability to think rationally reduces, and your emotions take over… the exact opposite of what you want to happen.

Trying harder to take charge is the exact opposite of what you should do…

The more you try, the more precarious the situation becomes, and the less capable you become to handle the situation. The harder you grasp at the potential solutions, the more options seem to close down and the more trapped you start to feel.

So what should you do instead?

Overcome overwhelm

The first step to regaining composure is to manage the stress response.

The simplest, quickest and easiest thing to do is to breathe. Slowly and deeply. As odd as it sounds, this actually tricks your body into believing the stress trigger has passed. Neat eh!

Get some exercise, take a walk around the block. Get a massage.

Regain perspective

“The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don’t have control over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it.” ~ Chris Pine

Ask this simple question: what’s the worst that could happen?

Watch Tim Ferris’ TED talk.

Control Chris Pine

Is anyone likely to die? No? Then relax a bit. Yes the stakes are still high, but they’re not that high.

Clarify your span of control

“At the end of the day, you’re responsible for yourself and your actions and that’s all you can control. So rather than be frustrated with what you can’t control, try to fix the things you can.” ~ Kevin Garnett

Take a piece of paper and right down a complete list of all the things that are causing you stress. Big, small, medium. It doesn’t matter. Then draw a circle in the middle of a piece of paper. Move all the things from your list either inside the circle if you have control over it, or outside the circle if you don’t.

Control Kevin Garnett

You don’t control other people’s decisions or behaviour. You control how you react to it.

You don’t control other people’s speed and capability. You control how you respond to it.

You don’t control what your competitors do. You control what you do for your customers.

Stop focusing on the stuff that’s outside the circle.

Spend your time doing the very best you can with the things inside the circle.

Do what you can… Don’t worry about the rest

“You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.” ~ Brian Tracy

Control Brian Tracy

Yes the perfect, neat, elegant solution you hoped for might slip from your grasp, but another better one may come along instead.

You simply can’t do everything. And if you can’t do it, it’ll work out. Don’t worry.


Let things unfold. Feel the flow.

Trust your ingenuity

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” ~ Nelson Mandela

So what if you’ve never done this thing before? You’ve done lots of other things. Often you’ve done things for the first time. Some of them are downright miraculous.

Control Nelson Mandela

The statistics are misleading you… just because you have no track record in this exact thing doesn’t have any bearing at all on whether you can actually do it.

You will figure something out. You always do.

Relax. Lean in. Let it unfold.

And let go.

Leadership Possibilities

I want to help you to lead.  Not from a position of power, but from exactly where you are now.

So I’m writing a book specifically for you.  It’ll be out early next year (28 February 2018 to be precise).

If you’d like to know more, please sign up for my newsletter (I don’t spam, just a weekly newsletter) where I’ll keep you up to date on progress, test some ideas, and even share a preview or two as we get closer to launch-day.

Let’s do this!

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