JKWhitehead & Associates

What do you Control?

What do you Control?

waiting roomI’m sitting in the waiting room at the car dealership while my vehicle is being serviced. It’s going to be a few hours and since I live outside their catchment area for a courtesy drop off /pick up, I’m held captive. As I sit here I can’t help think of the topics of my past two blog posts – patience and humour – and how appropriate they are. There is nothing to do other than laugh when you find yourself in a situation like this. Laugh, and make sure you have lots of patience.

Of course I have come prepared, and one of the items on my to-do list while I’m here is to write this post. I also have a phone call scheduled with a client (text received as I write: she’s been delayed and will try and reconnect later), and have arranged a meeting with someone else at a nearby coffee shop. So the three to four hours I spend here will not be totally wasted. That being said, it’s not an ideal way to work and I know that by the end of my time here I’ll be getting antsy to get back to the comfort and convenience of my home office.

“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.” ― Epictetus

There are going to be lots of times when you will be doing nothing but sitting around and waiting. What we decide to do with that time is the important thing. We can complain, get frustrated, or we can take advantage of the time that has been given to us. It comes back to one of the central things that I have not only learned, but made a central part of my being. That is the principal that there are things we can control, and things we can’t control. Far from being a vague platitude or a toss-away concept, it is a real and focused part of being. Focusing on what we can control means that our actions in the present have meaning and provide a potential for something great to happen. Focusing on that which we can’t control becomes a distraction and more than often or not, leads to failure. When faced with any type of situation, the fundamental question should be: “What, in this situation, can I control and what can I not?” Then focus on what you can control.

“The reason many people in our society are miserable, sick, and highly stressed is because of an unhealthy attachment to things they have no control over.” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

time mgmtIn my coaching practice I frequently work with clients who, for whatever reason, are chasing their time, schedule, employees or staff, events, projects, you name it… Whatever “IT” may be, it is a distraction and almost every time we drill down on the “challenge”, there is a big component that is out of our control. The client, however, believes they must control it either to be successful, or seen to be successful. The obvious question here is, Why? The next question is, What would happen if you stopped focusing on “IT”? If the world would not collapse and instead you were allowed to focus on something over which you had positive control, what would that do for your business/life? I think that is pretty liberating isn’t it?

What is going on in your life right now that is controllable and what isn’t and what are you doing about it?



John Whitehead, coaches individuals and organizations in becoming more effective by helping them improve their interpersonal communications, emotional intelligence and resiliency.


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