Celebrating (and taming) My Inner Control Freak
contributed by Kristine Forster
I have a bit of really exciting news to share – along with a personal revelation.
Ok … first, the revelation. Although I'm a fun-loving, happy person, I am also a ‘type A’ personality. To be completely transparent, the phrase “control freak” was once used to describe my approach to work. Ouch. That's the kind of phrase that can make anyone think twice, yet I’m getting more comfortable with the label as time goes on, especially when it comes to evaluating my performance and results. Why? Because, at the end of the day I’m the one responsible for the
quality of my work … so I have a personal stake in the services I provide.
Other performance-driven types know the kind of pressure that drives us, the energizing, heart palpitating, blood-drumming-in-ears-so-I-can’t-hear-a-thing caffeine rush that’s our response to everyday challenges like change, hidden agendas, financial struggles, physical stresses, personal dramas, etc. Couple that with all the ridiculous performance demands we place on ourselves: the expectations, constant scrutiny and life-altering consequences that are so intensely associated with our work performance ... we need to exert an inordinate amount of control just to manage it all from day to day (hour to hour, minute to minute). It even sounds exhausting!
Here’s what I recently discovered: the ability for people like me to adroitly manage this pressure determines how effective (successful) we are with daily tasks. Regardless of where we are operating (work, home, community, etc.), by better handling the stress of little things we can succeed with larger goals. When viewed in a larger context, those smaller pressures almost seem to evaporate.
More important, our ability to perform under multiple, concurrent stressors is not inherent at birth. It’s not the ability of a chosen few. It’s actually a skill. (Yeah! Are you jumping up and down with me?). This means it can be both taught and developed and nurtured and shared. This is good news, and although controlling our actions to the benefit of others is one of the fundamentals taught in any communications class, the ability to successfully transfer this knowledge into practice is the difference between a life well-spent or just spent stressing over small things.
What is the difference? By re-framing (or taming) this desire for control, we can begin to use that impulse for something more constructive, actions that are more positive for everyone around us.
Let's identify the things we can't control. For instance, I can’t control the economy. I can't control international politics or the distribution/redistribution of wealth. I can’t control the weather, or my mom and dad’s moods or whether you like me or not ... However, I can control the choices I make to improve myself, better my community and share my passion for life with my colleagues and friends.
Instead, let's be BOLD get fired-up, passionate, excited...about the things that matter. Whatever cause or goal that makes you want to stand up, grab the reins and take control. Then, try to do something good with that energy, something that may seem small or ordinary, but that can make a bigger difference later on.
Choose to open a door for another employee as you talk to him/her about their recent experience.
Choose to ask questions that lead to better understanding.
Choose to challenge assumptions.
Choose to let go of the small things to achieve the larger ones.
Make better choices, daily.
By developing the key mental and emotional skills that allow us to conquer and control those small challenges we can concentrate on delivering to the best of our ability, each and every day. We take control in a positive direction…to achieve large goals.
Let's take this journey together, one happy control freak with another!