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Control and Hunches

“You have no control over what the other
guy does. You only have control over what you do.” — A. J. Kitt

“Are things out of control?” This is a most interesting
question. You likely ask yourself this question sometimes and experience
pronounced anxiety as you consider the answer. The problem is, of course, if
things are out of control, there is no predicting the outcome. The possibility
of a huge crash is out there and the prospect is somewhere between alarming and
terrifying. Even if things are out of control, odds are that the outcome will
be acceptable; but…. Perhaps Mario Andretti had a thought worth remembering,
“If everything’s under control, you’re going too slow.”

You have both experienced this existential anxiety and have
thought about the intense level of uneasiness associated with it. It’s indeed
uncomfortable and evokes feelings of self-doubt, frustration, and a sense of
helplessness. At times, these feelings can be overwhelming and nearly

If you run this issue by Sparky you
may be quite taken aback to learn that the question itself is a product of
retrograde thinking. Sparky will point out that the question is based on an
invalid assumption. It assumes that things should be in control and that
control is a desirable state. Not being one to stop with a brief comment and a
few fries, That Sparky will probably go on to point out that most everyone has
been in environments where control was the central priority and the major goal
of those in charge.

Did you like that? Was that anymore comfortable? Is controlling
the right thing to do? Do you want things to be controlled by you or anyone
else? At that point, you may want to tell Sparky to take those fries and….

Once you’ve had a chance to settle down some, asked Sparky a
different question. “If having things in control is not what we want, then what
do we want?” As you might expect, Sparky says, “Now, there is a great
question,” as he gets up and goes out to find some more fries. Giving a great
impression of Columbo, he pauses and adds, “I doubt if it is having things in
control, though.”

Perhaps the right question is actually, “Are you getting better
and better at getting better and better, one issue at a time?” That question is
easy. You certainly are, even though you lose the perspective once in a while
as you see that you are not yet nearly as good as you need to be, as you are
going to be. Still, you are a lot better at it than you were last month and
much better than you were last year. When the anxiety comes, and it will, just
think about how good you are going to be at it this time next year; and keep in
mind what Lao Tzu said, “He who controls others may be powerful but he who has
mastered himself is mightier still.” Now there is an awesome thought! It also
goes very well with fries.

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