Control The Controllables

I used to work with a guy who was always so calm, measured and good at his job it was absurd. He would take everything in his stride, never get flustered, and his teams always performed so well. He had a phrase he would use which was the foundation of his approach – “Control the controllables.”

That was it. This, I believe is the approach to success in anything. In sport it is important to focus on the controllables. You can’t control a result of a game, there are so many variables. However, you can control how you practice, prepare, get mentally ready, and improve your own performance. That’s the one controllable you have – your own behaviour.

Knowing this helps you get equipped to create a better world, one in which the school run isn’t soul-destroying, and you are able to think down that little ball of rage. Easier said than done, I know. But like anything else in life that you want to achieve it takes a little time and practice, and it will be worth it. When we spoke about losing strategic battles in the last article, this is why it works. You are in control. Instead of being frustrated by someone cutting you up, as they do every day, today you are able to be in charge, let it go, and change your day.

How much stress and energy goes into winning every single battle, even the pointless ones? Does your heart beat just a little faster when someone is trying to overtake as you get closer to two lanes becoming one? Why? Let it go. If it means that much to them that they are prepared to use more gas, burn through brakes quicker, and have chest pains to be 3 feet ahead of you, let them. You may lose a battle, but you will have a less stressful day.

Here are today’s three takeaways:

1 – Determine which of the battles you will face today are the ones that help you win the wars, and which will just wear you down.

2 – Learn how to disengage. It will be difficult at first but you will get used to it, and you’ll get better at it.

3 – Weigh up the cost. What is the cost of victory in every situation, and does the cost outweigh being able to claim victory?

I was recently talking to a friend (who is proud of his Finnish heritage) about the folly of fighting the Russians in winter. He said “We did it, and we won.” I checked the facts on this, and sure enough, the Russians had maybe 4-5 times the casualties as the Finns. Finland however gave up some land with high economic value and had to pay Russia for reparations. Who really won, if anyone? Sometimes the cost of winning doesn’t actually look much like a win at all. So which battles will you win today?

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