Reflection Friday: Relinquishing Control

August 11, 2022   |   Lesli Mones

We’re living in such a time of complexity and volatility. Each week we’re met with a new crisis—one after another—and this disruption is, sadly, the new normal. 

The result? We’re so used to it, that we often don’t realize the cost to our bodies and well-being. 

In many corporate environments, this is only amplified by constant change, increased workloads, high expectations, and a burnout culture that celebrates the grind. We don’t notice its toll on our physical and mental health until something snaps. Anxiety builds, we lose sleep, get sick, our focus erodes, and our ability to perform requires more and more: alcohol at night to wind down, sleeping pills to get some rest, less time for loved ones, and the vicious cycle worsens. 

The Wisdom to Know the Difference

In times of uncertainty, people feel safer when they have a sense of control; the more uncertain the situation, the more people cling to attempts to control. The reality is, however, that this almost always backfires since we cannot control external events. 

We have to learn what is outside of our control and what is under our control. 

The Alcoholics Anonymous Prayer seems more important now than ever before: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. 

Reflection Questions

To start on the path to releasing control, take stock of the things stressing you out and determine which of these are in your control and which ones are out of your control. 

Depending on your leadership level, exactly what’s in your control at work can vary—but regardless of position, we can all control our response to what happens, our boundaries, and our personal and professional limits. And often, paradoxically, the only way to regain a sense of control is to let go of control.

Think about something that’s stressing you out and ask yourself: 

  • Have I taken on too much and exceeded my limits? Can I ask for help? 
  • Am I placing undue pressure on myself to do all the great work all on my own? 
  • Am I placing undue pressure on myself to be perfect? Can 80% effort be just as good as 100%? 
  • Is my response to this adding more stress to the situation? Am I unintentionally adding more fuel to the fire with an overblown response? What alternative response can I imagine that would have a more calming effect?
  • What would happen if I released some tension and accepted that this is out of my control and things might not turn out how I want them to? What mental shifts can I make to get to that point?

Focus on your own highest-value work—the part that’s within your control—instead of allowing your fear of letting go to keep you from making the greatest contribution to your organization. 

There is peace to be found in relinquishing control, and though it’s not always easy, we think it’s worth it.

We’d love to hear what works for you to manage stress/anxiety and relinquish control. Find us on LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter, or email us at [email protected]. Take care of yourselves.