business and principiis obsta

 

control confront what you can

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“Any attempt to make heaven on earth invariably produces hell.”

 

—-

 

Karl Popper

 

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principiis obsta

 

Latin meaning “resist the beginnings” to avoid an unpleasant end.

 

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Well.

 

This is about control and lack of control. This is about doing and not doing. This is about ignorance and confidence. This is maybe also about our quest to control going to hellthings with the intent to create perfection … or maybe our attempt to create heaven within our purview.

 

And, ultimately, this is about the wretched in-between all of that in which businesses thrive, survive … or die. Let’s call it the inevitable hell of reality if you pursue things believing you can control what will be.

 

 

One of the hardest things to learn as you gain more and more responsibility in your career is that while you gain more responsibility you lose more and more control.

This is a really hard lesson because … well … face it. You most likely were initially anointed for promotions and more responsibility because you had show you could control. in fact. your incredibly unattractive anal perfectionist attitude & skills were most likely what made you professionally attractive <and successful>. Your continued success actually encourages you to believe everything will be better <at least for you and to you> if you maintain control.

Some business people never learn to loosen the control attitude and … well … either flame out or become one of those horrendous managers no one wants to work for.

 

Some get it … that you lose control … and that is when you learn to “manage.”

 

But.

Let me be clear.

 

What makes this really hard is that control is insidious. The more we pursue it the less we seem to have of it.

 

The more we pursue it the more it seems to poison our attitudes and behavior.

What I mean by that is our personal attitude with control affects our attitude with regard to those around us. Inevitably it can create an overall sense of paranoia not only with tangible doings but in the intangible, and even more insidious, lack of trust in those around us.

 

Think about it.

The Roman emperors killed advisor after advisor and even close relatives to prevent them from taking their power … from taking away their ability to control.

 

The sacrificing of other’s is fruitless because … well … the pursuit of control as the end goal is futile. Having control of anything is an illusion or at best a coincidence. You can never quite get there.

 

To be clear, I am making a distinction between control and influence. Control, especially of people, is not possible. You can exert influence, but there is no guarantee that your influence will actually produce the results you intend.

That is the distinction … you can exert influence … but you cannot control actual results.

bad influence on self

Anyway.

 

To let go of an unhealthy grasp of control you in turn need to embrace the maddening ambiguity of life and business. This mean embracing change, adapting and the inevitably aggravations that come with unintended consequences and foreseen activity.

 

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to influence the outcomes of actions but it does mean you may have to accept that demanding that things always go the way you believe they should go will not happen.

 

Bottom line.

If we are too focused on trying to control everything with the intent to create heaven … we will create hell.

 

And the hell is internal and external.

 

Based on our lack of control … internally we can become cynical as our attitude becomes dominated by the “futility of it all.” Externally people are frustrated and micromanaged and so much time gets wasted on attempting to ‘control’ that actual ‘doing type stuff’ becomes less than efficient and runs the overall risk of being ineffective.

 

<note: we all know managers like this …>

 

From this point forward most of our actions fall into one of two places:

 

  • Do nothing <most of the time … just be reactive>

asshole bad manager

  • Do something <most of the time … act upon any and all beginnings we recognize>

 

 

Both are bad but the second is most typical of those who seek to control and are frustrated by lack of control.

 

They just cannot resist beginning something. They almost do not care what … just something.

 

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“When it is not necessary to make a decision, it is necessary not to make a decision.”

 

 

Lord Falkland

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Now.

 

The flip side of control is usually about doing … like ‘controlling actions with a goal in mind’ type stuff.

 

The quote above speaks that what we know often protects us from trying things needlessly.

And, yet, the quote also points out that not making a decision is difficult. Many of us … our natural instinct is to make a decision or to do something.

 

In fact, sometimes we seem to have some absurd confidence that if we try hard enough … success can be achieved. This same confidence makes us ignore the beginnings and step forward confident we can do something if we just keep searching for answers.

 

Inevitably, by not resisting the beginnings, we cannot avoid unpleasant ends.

 

<Sigh>

 

And this is all done under the auspices of a desire for control.

 

Look.

 

Ignoring your control instincts is difficult.

 

But, if you do, you learn and grow … sometimes by rebuilding that which was either built wrong or just should be rebuilt to meet a new environment.

And answers appear less in pursuit but in awareness of the changing situation <giving ‘answers’ space to appear>.

 

 

It is natural to try and control mostly because the alternative seems to be lack of control.

 

The reality is somewhere in between.

And that in between can be an uncomfortable place to reside.

 

But that uncomfortable place is called Life. It is not heaven nor is it hell. It is just Life.

 

I don’t have advice but I can say what I do.

 

First.

I don’t believe in “control what you can.” That suggests simply because you can that you should. Similar to when a situation dictates you make no decision and it then becomes necessary to actually NOT make a decision … when you can control a moment or a situation it becomes necessary to decide if you SHOULD control it or not.

This makes Life infinitely more difficult in the choice & control aspect but most often infinitely more enjoyable, efficient & effective.

 

Second.

 

I accept most control is situational and within a very specific defined time frame. This makes my version of control infinitely easier for me. I know I have the power to control for a window of time and then let it go when the window closes.

 

By the way … I am not suggesting recognizing the window is easy. I have had my fingers smashed many times when the window closed and I was still trying to control.

management what growing-global-executive-talent

Both of these thoughts suggest control is both an art & a science.

 

Far too often in business people do not think of control as either an art or a science but rather either a responsibility or a right.

 

Yes.

 

Ultimately someone needs to be in control or there is just sheer chaos.

 

But.

Control, implemented improperly, may create something worse than chaos … it creates hell.

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Written by Bruce