Control | kənˈtrōl | n. the power to restrain something, especially one’s own emotions or actions.
Ever put your best foot forward, then spiral out of control in trying too hard?
It’s Friday morning; a few more hours till the weekend and I’m already exhausted, feeling totally fatigued. My throat hurts, I’m congested, and my body is crying for me to go back to sleep.
Cut to: four days earlier.
I started the week with tons of energy, specific goals and a plan. I was in the middle of a heavy day of prospecting, and I was getting responses. It felt easy. It felt like no matter what I did or what happened, I was taking everything in stride, in a flow.
More prospecting, more activity, another full day of doing the hardest thing we do in sales; outreach; introducing myself and my ideas to strangers; in a flow.
Still generating interest, however, my targets/goals are looming. I’m thinking about all the people I needed to connect with, that are “pending.” My excitement is gradually turning to anxiousness. I NEED to make sure these calls get set up before the end of the week.
I hadn’t heard back from my prospects yet. They were interested the day before. So, now I feel different than the day earlier – my flow, gone. I need to take the control back. I could handle this and control the outcome. I craft another plan, new messages, restart my communication and start firing away… “I need to…”
I wake up and want nothing more than to keep sleeping. I can’t do it. I don’t have it in me. I’m drained. Demotivated. I have that feeling of weight, like a brick is sitting on my chest, totally constricted. I made myself sick without even knowing it.
I don’t even care about anything at this point. Something else was weighing me down, and it wasn’t rejection. Nor was it that it was the tail end of a long work week.
It dawned on me that through the week, I became dominated by the “prize”, the reward of reeling in these prospects. I was so dominated by what I needed to achieve by the end of the week, that I had lost sight of where my prospects were, who they were, why they’re not responding to me. I wasn’t with their flow.
A colleague even said, “Maybe they’re traveling this week.” I didn’t even think of that. Here’s what I thought about as the week progressed; I had shifted into “control” mode. And maybe that’s what was demotivating me, creating my fatigue.
Everyone tells you that the key to success is FOCUS. Focus on the outcome. Focus on the task at hand. Focus and you will persevere and achieve your goal. I realize I was confusing Focus with Control. Maybe we need a certain dose of control; sell-control and will-power in order to Focus and not get distracted, but I replaced Focus with Control.
When control over powers our focus, we lose sight of what and why we’re doing something. And then we become robotic, not stimulated, and when we aren’t stimulated with our work, we aren’t feeling fulfilled, and then we’re drained. It’s a viscous cycle.
I know Control is a word used in our profession a lot; “To have power over”, “To direct”. It’s a big part of our sales lexicon, part of our culture, and when we slip into hyper-control mode, for me at least, I don’t even know it.
So as I reflect back on last week, and comparing the feeling I had in the beginning of the week, there was such a contrast. I started the week feeling in sync with the world – as if I was flowing with the currents, and by Friday was “fighting it.”
The word Control is defined as, in opposition of. The origin is Latin, from the word Contra: Against the flow. Control was what was making me tense. Focus is defined as the center of interest and activity. Focus sounds like a much more fun state to be in.
But here’s what I am personally learning about Control: it fuels my own criticism, clouds my judgment. It had me looking too far into the future, and not enough about the present moment. I was no longer focused.
My interests with what I was doing were no longer at the center. Control undermines the present because we become obsessed with outcomes; the money; the praise; the prize.
We’re looking ahead and we’re not in the flow; not immersed in what we’re doing in that moment.
We’re outside of ourselves, not in tune with what it takes to create authentic connections with people.
Control = no connection = no good results. So its ironic that this thing we do to stay in control of outcomes prevents good outcomes.
When control has too much power, control is a monster. It will leach onto your soul and your mind and consume you, control you, and you’ll be stuck in it’s grasp. Let go and go with the flow.
Take a step back, regain your Focus, trust and let go of the outcome. Your monster (control) can scare the outcome away.
The less we try controlling, and instead start trusting in the timing of our lives, trusting in the effort and Focus we’ve already put forth, and stop desperately grabbing at/scaring away the outcome, that outcome will feel safe to be around us.
That outcome will find us.
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