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The control key on my keyboard appears to not work.  I keep typing it by itself in a futile attempt to gain more control over my life, my kids, my dogs, and my job and nothing seems to happen.  If only it were that easy.  What if it is?

Seeking Control offers the following definition of control: 1. to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command.

American Psychological Association (APA): control. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved December 09, 2010, from website:

In a world that sometimes feels out of control, it’s interesting how often we mere mortals attempt to gain control of situations and other people.  We try to exercise direction over, attempt to dominate, or even command that other free thinking human beings should bend to our better judgment, desires, opinions, beliefs, and will. 

Many of us control freaks are most happy to assume the command and control function in almost any situation and to save time, we often don’t even wait to be asked. I remember the famous quote by then Secretary of State, General Alexander Haig who in 1981, told reporters, “I am in control here” as a result of President Roland Reagan’s hospitalization due to having been shot during an assassination attempt.


Our problems begin to appear when we attempt to control people or situations that are beyond our control or authority. As a result, we get angry or frustrated.

Try as we will, the majority of our most challenging and frustrating life events are in-fact beyond our control. That’s what makes them so frustrating.  We keep hitting our mental “Ctrl” key over and over, harder and harder, and louder and louder and do not get any tangible results most of the time.  The only outcome is our building frustration and anger at the  futility of it all.

Once we reach this exasperating realization, many of us tend to shut down in the form of depression.  Our situation appears hopelessly uncontrollable, so why bother trying?

Some learn this  life truth early in life and make it a guiding excuse for all of their failures and non-attempts.

Serenity’s Secret 

Wisdom gained through experience, is often in the from of a bruised and battered forehead from continually running head-first into the same walls. A lucky person discovers early that there is a secret to ending the frustrating control quest. It is accepting that some things are genuinely beyond one’s control.

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change  (control);
Courage to change  (control) the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.” –Reinhold Niebuhr

Real Control

Wisdom and serenity demand that we end our futile efforts to control the uncontrollable.  (My kids will no doubt cite my quote often.) Rather, we can accept fully the responsibility for the two areas of life that we have been granted exclusive control over:

1) My attitudes.

2) My behaviors.

That is pretty much all there really is in each of our personal spans of true control…my attitudes and my behaviors.

In his landmark book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Viktor Frankl wrote,

 “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Choose Your Own Way

The path to wisdom and serenity is in accepting full responsiblity for your own attitudes and behaviors or as Frankl says, “choose one’s own way.”  Freedom demands the ability to choose one’s own way. Have you been attempting to form a family-based dictatorship? Are there attitudes and behaviors that are within your power to change that can end your frustrations and anger and maybe life your feelings of depression?

Yes, I know it is true.  Learning to control even a few of one’s thoughts and behaviors can dramatically improve one’s life.  Even if the circumstances do not actually change, their ability to negatively impact one’s inner well-being is negated. Nothing can touch one’s soul without one’s permission.

Are you willing to accept what you can control… your attitudes and your behaviors? Are you willing to give up trying to be god and begin to trust God to manage what is beyond your control?

If you do, wisdom and serenity will be yours and you can begin to live your life, Fired Up!


About Andrew W Dix, MS, BCC
Author, Board Certified Executive Business Coach, Trainer, Reiss Motivation Profile Master and Private Pilot. Expertise in motivational intelligence, leadership development, strengths, management, coaching, and change management. Available for keynote addresses.

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