Image credit to Avis Viswanathan
“You’re too small, too weak, too slow. You don’t have enough experience.” When I shared my aspirations of joining the Special Forces, every one of my friends had an opinion and all of those words sounded a lot like excuses to me.
Those things they said were all true. I was 5”8’ and 140 pounds soaking wet. I could barely bench press and my military experiences were unremarkable at the time. The only element out of my control was my height. With that in mind, I focused on getting heavier, faster, stronger and more experienced because those were the things that I could control. Several months later my selection results proved that my mindset had been right. I finished with three other candidates. The others had decided to quit at various stages of the process.
Learning to control the uncontrollable is key to success, and being the under dog has it’s advantages.
Most people tend to let the “uncontrollable” factors become the excuses for not achieving or overcoming. To me, the odds stacked against me aren’t odds at all. I see them as an opportunity to learn, grow and improve. You control your thoughts, emotions and actions. Understanding and accepting this fact is called extreme ownership. (Check out an earlier post for more about this.)
Controlling the uncontrollable is a difficult skill to learn because it requires some detachment. Detachment allows for analysis from multiple perspectives and removes some of the emotions that can cloud our judgement. Choosing a level of detachment can be hard. Too much carries the risk of becoming emotionless and unable to connect with your reality. The key is to remain aware of your perspective, your reality and your goals. Let the level of detachment follow.
If you can’t influence an event or the outcome, don’t waste energy or time on it.
In the midst of making difficult decisions, take time to create a solid, realistic plan to meet your objective. When in the middle of a crisis, utilize detachment and discipline to control the uncontrollable.
One of the most powerful lessons I have learned is that choosing control is as important for my own well-being as it is for others. During one of the most harrowing moments of my military career, a teammate recalled my quick-thinking and calm demeanour and how much it had helped him stay focussed on the objective. Remaining in control of our behaviour sets the standard for those around us.
In all situations, at all times, you have complete control of your actions, thoughts and words. You have the power to accomplish your goals. Push harder, get tougher, don’t quit EVER.