Lesson #1: The Illusion of Control

The 11 Important Lessons I Learned This Year post was so popular that it spurned a great deal of conversation on Twitter and in real life. So, I thought I'd unpack the lessons a bit more. Since I think in circles, swirls and stars this may not be a completely linear process so we'll start with #1 and see how it goes.

Here we go.

1. The more control you try to assert the less you actually have.

Control is just an illusion. We can have some control over some mutable things. But there are plenty of things that are immutable and some that are purely out of our control. It's true wisdom to learn when you can enforce some measure of control over a part of your life. Pay attention to the part about "your" life. You can't control anyone else. No matter how much you think you might be like a hypnotist who can make anyone do anything you wish. You may get a small measure of control for a bit but it will always be fleeting. The reason? Free will baby.

The other way that people try to exert control is in getting the job done. You seen or done this right? In this case, a person gets so focused on getting. the. job. done. that they all end up trying to control everything--including you. Oh, they would tell you that the job just needs to get done. It seems like in their head it's life or death. They take over your job--and everyone else's. They yell, scream, demean, manipulate and generally engage in all sorts of other unbecoming behavior--all as a means to gain control in order to get the job done. You know what happens when a person is faced with something this acute. Yep. Frantic efforts for some measure of control.  It's also just as useless. Oh, you might get the job done but you'll piss off so many people in the process that you'll lose relationships like water from a leaky bucket.

Control is a tool often employed to make up for insecurity. It's a lack of trust. When we say we don't trust others it's actually more often true that we don't trust ourselves. Or we don't trust that things will turn out exactly as they need to without our intervention. I know it may be hard to hear that your attempts to control are misguided, insecurity-driven and ineffective. I'm open to other reasons people try to control--I just haven't found a legitimate alternative yet.  And I don't want to pretend as if this is a method that will ever give you true happiness, success or peace of mind.

The more you try to control another person or a situation the more it will slip out of your hands like a loose knot that easily unravels with one good pull. Worse? It just makes you feel worse and makes you feel even less secure. And that's not helpful.

True strength comes from trusting yourself. Trusting yourself is actually something you have a measure of control over. That's a really good place to put your efforts to control someone or something.