Are you a self-identified control freak? Or do you have a control freak in your life?
I can relate to you. As a recovering perfectionist, being a control freak can sometimes walk alongside perfectionism.
If I could have figured out how to get people around me to do what I wanted them to do, I would have been happy! But it didn’t seem to work that way.
How We Lose Control When We Control
Here’s a great example of how we lose control:
Recently in a cycling class, there was a woman speaking very loudly to her husband on the phone. A woman in class was visibly bothered by the talking.
She continued to turn around, stare and roll her eyes each time the woman was speaking. The woman talking to her husband was oblivious to this and continued talking.
The bothered woman continued to increasingly show just how annoyed she was. She made it obvious that she disapproved of this talking behavior and wanted to make it as clear to all those around her.
The “bothered woman” spent about 30 minutes (65% of the cycle class), being annoyed, making gestures, turning around, and doing things that were the opposite of why she came to the class that day.
She didn’t get a workout, or much of one – nor did she enjoy herself. Basically, she was miserable for the entire class, and ruined her workout and the class for herself. And if you asked her, she would probably have said that talking woman ruined the class for her.
But the truth?
The bothered woman ruined the class for herself.
Nobody else’s workout was ruined. If she could have had control over that talking woman, she would have gotten her to stop so that she could enjoy her workout- even though everyone else was enjoying theirs.
She wanted control so badly that she lost control of accomplishing what she wanted to accomplish in the first place- the workout.
Reigning in that Sneaky Control Freak
At first, we become good at many things.
When we manage (and maybe over-manage) certain areas of our lives, we see many benefits from it. We see that it’s working exactly as planned, executed by always keeping our eyes on everything and directing things accordingly.
We like what’s taking place and want to keep doing it.
But something slowly happens.
At first, we don’t recognize what’s taking place. Over time, we see things:
- that don’t seem to be falling in line with what we had planned
- not meeting our standards and expectations
- not following the path that we determined needs to happen for things to work their best for us
So, we tighten our grip.
We escalate our desire and need to regain the things that are out of line and push harder to get it back.
Sometimes it’s circumstances out of our control. Sometimes it’s people who aren’t falling in line or doing what we need them to do. But because we have proven to ourselves for so long that we are great at being in control and we know how things need to go, we grasp tightly onto the idea, and we tighten our grip.
We focus all our energy and attention on things that we are unable to control and change, then continue to push and force more and more into areas where our control is impossible. Then we tend to get in and start doing things ourselves and get involved in things that we really don’t need to – all in the name of “getting it done RIGHT.”
The worst is yet to come…
While we are focusing on all those things that we can’t control and change, we lose control of the things we DO have control over.
We are so distracted in our over-controlling that we scatter our energy and no longer direct it. Things fall apart.
We become frustrated and angry, believing that if people would just do what they’re supposed to do, then everything would be better and work as it should.
When we are feeling frustrated, angry, or even resentful or disappointed, we:
- aren’t operating at our best
- don’t act the way we want
- react in ways we don’t like
- give our attention to areas that take us away from the most important areas
- are no longer doing any of the things that will make anything better or accomplish our real objective
- are just wasting time trying to change things that are out of our control.
Hey Perfectionists: Nobody Wants to Be Controlled
We forget something very important: people don’t want to be controlled or told they should change. In my experience, when we try to force them to do it, it tends to not go well.
We don’t like it when others do it to us, yet somehow, we think others will be OK with us doing it to them. We negatively impact the relationships with those around us in the process of all this. None of this allows us to operate the way we want to operate or to focus on the solutions we want. And we don’t get the results we want, either. No matter how hard we try to control, it just keeps working against us.
We have lost sight of all the things we have the most control over in our lives, all in the name of being a control freak.
Be the Very Best Control Freak: Define It With These 5 Steps
Let’s define exactly what it means so you can be the best control freak you can be.
#1 Choose deliberately exactly how to spend every minute of our time.
No matter what others need, want or think they require of you, you get to choose.
When we tell ourselves we are not in charge of our calendar, if we feel guilty saying no or feel we have no choice, that is completely disempowering. It means that we have lost sight of what we CAN control. None of those statements are true.
You have control over how you spend your time- it’s always a choice.
#2 Make decisions based on your own personal reasons and preferences, without the need for any explanations.
You get to determine your priorities and what you value most. Decide ahead of time which things will get your resources of attention.
When we know clearly what we want and where we are going, it’s more obvious which things are not a priority. Our control and focus are on track naturally.
#3 See and understand that you get to be completely in control of knowing what you can and can’t control.
Once you’ve gone through steps 1 and 2, you operate from a place of recognizing which things can or can’t be impacted and/or controlled.
#4 Embrace the fact that you get to control how you think, feel and act at all times.
Knowing you are completely in control at all times of your choices is a liberating place to be.
We are the only ones responsible for the fuel that drives us – our emotions. Knowing that is the most controlling and empowering place to be. When we become fully aware of managing our own emotions, literally nothing can stop us from controlling ourselves to accomplish anything we want.
#5 Control your own results, all the time. You are in control of your own destiny.
Not following these five steps is the only thing that will prevent that destiny from happening. They are the path to creating every result we have in our lives. When we focus and practice these steps as our habits, we become the control freaks that we really want to be.
Do You Want to Be the Best Control Freak You Can Be?
If you find yourself struggling with how to be the best control freak you can be, you’re in the right place – this is what we focus on at Strive!
We help leaders become free of the frustrations and disappointments that come from getting control wrong. Together, we work with you to create the most ideal control freak life of empowerment, freedom, peace, and motivation that is available to you. 😉
Come check us out at Strive Leadership Development to see how you can have this too. While you’re there, take our Performance Motivator Quiz to identify what drives you to succeed and achieve your goals! This is a fast, easy way to discover the key factors that create inspiration and focus on the path to success.