Dismissing What You Can’t Control

Many of you are experts at strategizing, scenario planning, thinking about and peering into the future. All of this talent and work is to help prepare your organization for what may come and to equip your organization for success.

What if I told you that this strength, when over-exercised and carried over to many aspects of your life, is actually not helpful? That what you are rewarded for and what is reinforced in you, is taking you away from the most important – and only – time available to you: current reality?

Like you, I need to carry out forecasting and strategizing to keep my business viable. And, I find that when I’m under stress, I do this in many aspects of my life and in overdrive. It’s my attempt to feel a sense of control when control is unattainable.

“What the mind can’t control, it tends to discount. Brush over…past.” (reference)

As I work with my clients (and myself!) I am watchful for this condition of ‘mind churning’ over the future. We focus ‘out there’ and discount the ‘here and now’ because…why? It’s boring? Not what we signed up for? Can’t figure out? What are we brushing over because we’re fearful, anxious of having no control? Revenue streams, market conditions, human feelings, needs, wants. Are we brushing over conditions within ourselves that we don’t like? Don’t know how to handle?

How many times have I listened as executives tell me that the people side of things just frustrates them? It’s a huge distraction? I have heard CEO’s and CFO’s discount the true value and human function of Human Resources. Perhaps it’s because people functions can’t be plugged into a spreadsheet to explain their full value. And that leaves some people uncomfortable. So, it’s dismissed.

When I explain that the bulk of a senior leaders’ time should be spent in developing people as well as creating strategy for revenue, they politely listen, then gently tell me, ‘Yes, of course. And, my job is to keep the company running’. And. When we look at keeping the whole organization running, we are, in fact, talking about people. People are unpredictable and hard to figure out. Forecast people?! Good luck with that.

“What the mind can’t control, it tends to discount. Brush over…past.”

True control is the ability and the courage to be with what is. In present time. Present being. To truly SEE current reality. When we look ‘out there’, not HERE, we’re looking out from false grounding to something that doesn’t even exist.

When I work with groups on strategy, they often want to start ‘over there’. Absolutely, vision is a very important aspect. And after vision, let’s get really clear on current reality. Only then can we properly map the way between ‘here and there’.

Work together to establish a vision for your people. Then, get clear on all aspects of the current reality; the measurable and the gray. Become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Listen deeply. Allow the information to settle in. Especially when it makes you uncomfortable. Then, and only then, will the best course of action reveal itself.

Don’t worry; you’re still a genius with all this listening, waiting, and seeing. There’s a place for your strategic capabilities. But know, the nuggets that you’ll see in the here and now will guide you to where you need to go.