Control, Influence or Let It Be?

14164066871I once heard a story of an Emperor of Persia who ordered to have the waves of the ocean beaten because they would not obey him. We laugh at the ridiculousness of that scenario, but how often do we ourselves get caught up into trying to manipulate situations that are out of our jurisdiction. Knowing the difference between the things we control, influence or must let go of can save us time and energy.

Control: The only things that we have control over are the things relating to ourselves. I can control what time I get up in the morning. I can control my level of patience. I can control how I relate to others. I can control my emotions. I take the things that I can control and I take control of them. I’m careful not to confuse them with the things that I can only influence.

Influence: While there are things in life that we can’t control, we sometimes have means of influencing them. For example: I may be able to control what time I get out of bed in the morning, but I can’t fully control what time I arrive at work. The reason I can’t control it is because there are existing factors outside of myself. The weather could play a part in difficulty. There could be a traffic accident or other incidents that may prevent my timely arrival. While I can’t control those factors, I can influence whether or not I arrive on time by leaving earlier. I can wake up 30 minutes earlier and be out of the door 30 minutes earlier giving myself more driving time, because those are the things that I can control. I can use the things that I can control to influence the things that I cannot. When things are out of control, explore how you may influence them.

Let It Be: This is one of the hardest things to accept sometimes, especially when it comes to those we love and care about. We so much want to see the best for them, that we’ll pull, press and try anything within our power to get them on what we believe to be the right path. Yet, no matter how hard we try, they don’t comply. We get frustrated and sometimes even angry at them. We know we can’t control them and it seems that we can’t even influence them. All we can do is love them, even if it’s from a distance and just let them be. There’s nothing wrong with trying to influence someone towards the right direction, but we have to know when to let go.

The key is accepting what is and knowing how or if we can affect it. I close with thoughts of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer, “O God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, Courage to change the things we can and Wisdom to know the difference.”

Eric L. Lipsey
Phoenix Business Development