/ Leadership

Job Search After Action Review - Part 4

Control Quote

Control What You Can Control

We've all heard this one before, eh? It's a tired-ass trope that induces wholesale eyerolling, to be sure. But, like most sayings that are "a thing," they are a thing for a reason. So, let's review this one, in some level of detail, because if we're being honest, there is a lot to unpack in that simple statement: control what you can control.

Main Tenets

  • Know that there are things you have the ability to control. You can, without question, determine the outcome all by yourself.
    • This group, for most of us, is WAY smaller than we think it is.
  • Acknowlege that there are things that you cannot control. As the saying goes, you should pretty much accept these as - the world is bigger than yourself, and you should just let the chips fall where they may, instead of wasting your time tilting at windmills. Dust. Wind. Dude.
    • This group, for almost all of us, is WAY bigger than we think it is.
  • Recognize that there is a middle ground as well, where there are things that are not totally in your control and not totally out of your control. For the purposes of this discussion, let's use the word "influence" to describe your interaction with these things.
    • Influence means that you can, through selective actions, or inactions, have an effect on the outcome of something.
    • Influence also means the simplicity of having an IMPACT, even if you do not affect the outcome.
    • Having an impact can be internal...and as simple as just making you feel better, or more confident, or less scared, or any damn thing else...or external, where you actually start to bend some small portion of the world to your will.
  • The ability to assess a particular situation and determine if it is in your control, in your influence or out of your control is pretty easy, when you think about it. Every situation, outcome or event should be viewed as ternary: it can only be in one of these categories.
    • Here is where the "science" falls apart, and it becomes an artistic endeavor.
      • Firstly, we should add the words "AT A TIME" to the statement above. Each thing can only be in one of the categories (in your control, in your influence or out of your control), at a given point in time. And, here's where it gets interesting...they can change categories. Things you thought were under your control can, usually quite suddenly, be proven to be outside of your control. Think Gwenyth Paltrow's severed head in the box in Se7en. John Doe has the upper hand...indeed.
      • And the biggest variable of all, how do you exert control and/or influence to gain the most positive result? Hell, how do you recognize what the most positive result even IS at any point in time? That might be useful information, no? Would be kind of pointless expending undue energy chasing an outcome that is completely unrealistic, right?

Man, this is becoming a tedious section. It's literally every bit the devolution into the Consultant's Signpost (It Depends) that I thought it would be. But this is supposed to be something of a guide to help folks through a difficult time. So, how can you make any progress to success, or at least personal growth? That part is easy, and no different from the common sense ways you should attack just about everything.

"Secrets" to Success

  1. Gather as much data as possible to make an informed decision.
  2. Make the most informed decision that your data and deadline will allow.
  3. Reach out to others with more information and/or expertise than yourself for assistance and guidance.
  4. Remember that not all decisions regarding all situations are final. If the data and/or deadline changes, reassess and pivot accordingly.

The secret is that there is no secret, other than awareness and diligence. I know, adulting sucks, huh?

talk-to-the-hand

To Hell With Everything Else

So, that long-ass section is some pretty good, albeit generic, advice about how to handle those things you can control or influence. What about those things that are outside of your control.

Ignore 'em. Any mindshare given them is wasted.

End of section.

OK, I lied. Let's put one quick reminder / qualifier in there. Data and deadlines change. So, a quick mental revisit to something that was previously classified as "out of your control" might be worthwhile, especially if that thing is important and/or has parameters that are subject to change.

Click HERE for Part 5.

Joe Mack

Joe Mack

Joe Mack is the creator of this blog. He is an Enterprise Transformation consultant with over 30 years of leadership and technology experience.

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