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What You Can Control

by Richard Norris on October 8, 2015

Music Mixer

What You Can Control

Because of our busy lives and the pressures that come with them, many of us want to be in control. Being out of control scares us. However, we cannot control everything nor are we meant to. The best thing we can do is to control what we can and let go of the rest. 

Life today seems hectic. Some of us can cope with that. Many of us cannot. Let’s face it – we like control – from the TV remote to our futures.

To counteract the frenzy at work, rest and play, we often strive for control. When we get it, we seem to want more. Control means power and the need for control can be addictive. That why we have rules, regulations, and laws. It provides those who lead with a sense of control over people, over practices, over processes and over performance.

But control is a delusion. Even if we believe we are in control, we’re not completely. For years, I strained to gain and be in control of every possible variable in my life – my health, my habits, my routines, my career, my wife and my kids etc. The more I tried to gain control, the more I seemed to lose control…of myself! I just got more and more frustrated and, yes, angry. Each time I got to a breaking point, God showed up and showed me the error of my ways. The sad thing was that I had to get to this point to get the lesson – I was never in control. God was, is and always will be. The best I could hope for was and is to be in command (at least for a time).

What are you trying to control that you shouldn’t be?

Trying to control everything is impossible and is a road to insanity. As sure as the law of gravity dictates that what goes up must come down, none of us can control everything. That’s a fact. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we regain our sanity. For that, we need to take an honest and earnest look at ourselves and determine what we’re meant to and can control and what we must not or cannot. If not sure, ask those around you whose input you value. I’m sure they will be frank with you.

Our desire for control often arises because within each of us is a desire for certainty. In our world of growing uncertainty, any control, no matter how small, helps us combat a feeling of helplessness. Such a reach for control can be seen on the playground, in the classroom, on the field, in the boardroom, in the political arena etc. Control freaks are just about everywhere. Their drive is to establish a base of certainty and grow it. They are doing it mostly, if not completely, for themselves.

The desire for control is rooted in fear and insecurity. Consider the dictators throughout history – Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Nero etc (or the one’s just down the street or in the mirror). To gain control, they went to great lengths – using fear and intimidation. Today we have another word for such people – bullies. Bullies lash out because they want control. As I understand it, many bullies are actually insecure and operate from a sense of fear.

When it comes to control, it’s like teaching your child how to ride a bike. At some point, you’re going to have to let go.

I’ve always had a strong sense of order. As such, I do not like clutter, litter, or things and people that are undisciplined. Such things to me smack of chaos. Chaos is the enemy of control. But life is rarely black and white. There are no absolutes when it comes to control. Control and chaos exist on a continuum. It took me a while to realize that. At any given time, situation and relationship, the amount of control (or chaos) can vary. When I had this revelation I felt a huge pressure come off of me. Since then, I’ve learned to live with less control and accept a bit of chaos.

Controlling people are often complainers. They can be like kids. Hardly a day goes by when one of my kids is not asking for the other to stop doing something or to do something they want them to do. Often, they’ll ask me to step in and make the other do something. A desire for control can be very selfish.

Controlling people often complain about other people’s actions, attitudes and behaviors. Why? Because they want those other people to stop doing something and start doing what they want. But why complain about what you cannot control? Doing so, just causes you undue stress and wasted energy on false expectations.

Here’s a big home truth – You cannot control anyone else other than yourself.

Control yourself. You’re the only person who can.

Your only concern should be the amount you have control over yourself. The more you control yourself, the better your self-leadership. The better you can lead yourself, the better example you lead for others. The better your example, the more they are likely to follow your lead.

It’s time to let go of trying to control everyone. It’s time to stop trying to control everything. It’s time to get real. It’s time to control only what you can. If you’re not sure, here’s a few things that you can control:

1. Your work ethic – how you go about your work. Work with excellence.

2. Your attitude – how you go about your day. Choose your attitude. Your circumstances may not improve, but your outlook can.

3. Your focus – how you go about your purpose. What you think on you bring on.

4. Your emotions – how you go about your relationships. Respond from your spirit rather then react from your flesh.

5. Your beliefs – how you go about your life. Your beliefs are the building blocks and signposts that will build you life and guide your path.

6. Your decisions – how you make choices. God gave you the power to choose. Use it wisely.

7. Your actions – how you get stuff done. Act with honor and integrity.

In our hectic world, having control can be a balm. However, having absolute control over everything in our lives will be a bane – to your health, wealth and relationships. When it comes to control, many of us need a reality check. We cannot control everything nor everyone, but we can control ourselves. So…get a grip. Control what you can – you. Let go of the rest.

Your Powerplay

Identify 3 things you need to stop trying to control and 3 things you can better control about yourself. Now…get on with it!



Can You Take Advice?

by Richard Norris on October 5, 2015

Wrong And Right

Can You Take Advice?

It’s easy to give advice, but not always easy to take it. Good or bad, we all need advice. It helps us to navigate our potential and our Journey of Success.

Advice is everywhere. From your boss, your spouse, your kids, your friends, your neighbors, from strangers and, yes, enemies. Everyone is full of advice and some just feel they need to give off-load it, whether it’s needed or wanted or not.

My wife gives me advice on how I can be a better husband to her. My kids give me advice to keep them from being embarrassed by me in public. My pastor gives me advice on my spiritual growth. My financial adviser does his best to advise me on investing. All in all, so far, so good.

Proverbs 11:4 says Where there is no counsel, the people fall… Wise words. Advice can help.

Admittedly, sometimes I don’t react well to advice (notice the word ‘react’) – even when I ask for it. My pride kicks in and I can get defensive. Yet, I know for me to grow and become all that God created me to be, I need to be humble and vulnerable (tough for a man). Only then, can I be receptive to the advice I want and/or need to hear.

Do you tend to defend or justify your actions?

If you do, you are likely limiting yourself and your potential to #BEGREATER. Here’s a piece of helpful advice…Take it like a man! Men are meant to be tough and able to take whatever comes be that real or perceived. So learn to take advice in all its forms. Whether the advice is good or not, taking it is good for you. I believe I’ve learned the hard way. If someone who was so proud (wrongly) and defensive has learned to take it, then you can too.

How you receive advice is a test of your character.

As a swim coach, I often give advice. My role is to help the swimmers to perform better in the pool. As such, when the swimmers show up there is a tacit understanding that I will guide them to improve. Some swimmers take my advice and apply it. These are the swimmers who inevitably rise to the top. Some don’t take my advice (or anyone else’s for that matter). Some don’t listen. Some don’t want to listen. Some get defensive. Some make excuses. Some lay blame. Some deny. Some don’t want to leave their comfort zone. Some just ignore me. My assessment is that whilst everyone needs coaching, not everyone is coachable. And you know what, as it is in the pool, so too in life.

All advice is intended to be helpful in some way – even when given negatively. But how will you know if you don’t at least hear it out?

Whilst someone may feel their advice to you is going to help you, it may not. Their good intentions could be harmful. Wisdom would say to handle all advice with care. Ideally, you should seek out advice that is based on sound experience and evidence. You know, the type of advice that comes from someone who leads by example.

When I first started my business back in 2003, I got lots of advice. Some I asked for, but most I did not. Some I listened to and some I did not. I confess I was a bit naive at the time. Some of that advice cost me a lot in time, money, credibility and reputation. Fortunately, my lessons from bad advice taught me well and taught me fast. My key learning? Seek advice from someone who is or has been in your shoes.

You don’t go to an employee to gain business advice. You go to a fellow business owner. You don’t go to your butcher for tax advice. You don’t go to a chef for legal advice. Advice best comes from the experts in that field. Even then, their advice may not work for you. However, you run less risk with their advice than Joe Schmo’s.

You make mistakes (and so do I). We’re not perfect. We have faults, flaws and failings. Sometimes we want to hide them, ignore them or deny them. That’s when we become sensitive to related advice. We’re worried or even scared of what others will think of us. But our mistakes do not define us; how we handle them does.

Sometimes we can see our errors, failings, weaknesses etc and sometimes we cannot. When we can’t, we definitely need input, feedback and advice from others.

I love and trust my wife, Nancy.  I know she has my best interests at heart when she gives me advice. I have learned to drop my defensive barriers when she does. I now listen to what she has to advise. And you know what? 99% of the time her advice is sound. She is the best coach I will ever have.

The best advice comes from someone who knows you, cares for you and is looking out for you. Being open to their advice opens up you and your world to be better.

Regardless as to the source of the advice, you may not like it, but it may just be what you need to help you be better. Stop attacking them (if you tend to). Drop the defenses. Park your ego. Let go your insecurity. Build your self-esteem. Prepare to grow. You don’t know everything. You cannot see how others see you.

Taking advice can be a superficial experience or a growing one. It’s down to you. Here’s a few tips:

1. Ask for detail. When advice comes your way, ask the person what they would do or what they’ve done. Ask them to tell them what they think. Abraham Lincoln was noted for having surrounded himself with those who disagreed with him and would tell him so. He gained new insight and perspective from their arguments and advice.

2. Be grateful. Thank them for their help. After all, what they advise may just be what you need.

3. Respond; don’t react. Put your emotions in check. Receive believing that the advice will be helpful not harmful.

4. Use it or lose it. The advice could be timely and a one-time only offer. Or you may simply forget if you leave it to long to use it.

5. Sift through the advice until you discover the nugget.

6. Apply what is useful. Discard the rest.

7. Advice is free; how you handle it will determine if it’s costly or priceless.

Your world will not be short of advice. Rather than shun it, embrace it in all its forms. Just receiving it will be a growing experience. Using it for what it’s worth will be even better. Take it and then decide how to use it for your own good.

Your Powerplay

Improve yourself this week. Openly receive all advice then make use of it.



Wife Encouragement 101 – No Strings Attached

October 1, 2015

Wife Encouragement 101 – No Strings Attached Every wife needs encouragement – not just every once in a while, but daily. Her encouragement shows that you are there to support and strengthen her. Doing so builds her and builds your marriage. Ever had a tough day when you needed encouragement but it wasn’t there? That […]

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