Why You Need to Stop Being in Charge of Everything
Control can kill.
Gentlemen, this may sound counter-intuitive, but you need to stop being charge of everything in your life – If for no other reason than it’s killing you. If it doesn’t end up physically killing you, it will at the very least kill a metric ton of pleasure, enjoyment, and realized success. Sure, you may reach that goal you’re shooting for, and do it your way, but you’ll be too exhausted to recognize and appreciate the fruits of your labor. Control can kill.
What do you do about it?
Look, I’m a professional control freak. I’ve been in recovery for about 3 years now, but I still have episodes when I get my hands in everything and do it all myself. I take control and get stuff done (that’s the good part), but I suffer for it later (that’s the inevitable pitfall).
In this podcast / article, we’ll explore four big reasons why control can kill, and four ways to cope and adjust so you keep moving toward your goal, whatever it happens to be. [remember to Subscribe Here]
One of the main articles of opposition I hear when I tell my friends, clients, and colleagues why they need to stop being in charge of everything is that they can’t trust anyone to do the work, much less do it to their exacting standards. What they fail to realize is just how exhausting their exacting standards are, even for themselves. Those that choose to take control of everything may create progress, but they often sacrifice bandwidth in each category because their hands are so full.
There are four main reasons why you need to stop being in charge of everything:
- Your personal bandwidth (resources) is stretched too thin
- Your variables multiply your stress exponentially
- Analysis Paralysis threatens you daily
- You lose momentum
If we’re being honest, the last key point is my absolute favorite, and the crux of why I’m in controllers-anonymous recovery. There’s a lot to share when we unravel that key point, but let’s take it one step at a time.
Your personal bandwidth is stretched too thin
Have you ever heard someone say, “I have too much on my plate,” or “I’m juggling so much right now?” What happens when those people are overloaded? What do you think their free time looks like? Maybe you’re familiar with it because it happens to you… What happens when you’re overloaded? You may deliver results on everything you’re juggling, but it won’t be your best work. You know it. We know it. Your resources were just spread out too much to support your best work.
This is a great time to talk about this because it’s coming right off the heels of my previous article on The Four Agreements. When we stretch ourselves too thin, we can’t deliver our best, we judge ourselves harshly for falling short, and our word affects the next endeavor we take – all things we want to avoid when striving to gain success using the Four Agreements, right?
An even simpler truth to realize here is that we are not successful multi-taskers. Yes, we can do it and may even be good at it. But are we as successful as we could be if we focused on only one thing? No. Not even close. When you take on everything, you increase your workload, responsibility, and ultimately reduce your energy and reward.
What do you do about it?
Build a tribe. Enlist the help of other people that can take some of the weight off your shoulders. Delegate actions and manage the project from a meta view. Ask yourself where you can let go of some control and outsource to others. Who can you find to help? Who would make a great partner in making this happen? Working in a tribe is incredibly powerful. Doing it all on your own, however, leads to the next reason why you need to stop being in charge of everything…
2. Extra variables multiply your stress exponentially
Let’s imagine you’re a great dog trainer. You love dogs and everyone knows how good you are with training them. Through your business and one-on-one approach, you’ve realized great success. One day, you are asked to take on a little more than you can chew, and because you don’t want to disappoint anyone, you agree. Now you have 5 dogs of different breeds, ages, sizes, and personalities.
One is constantly barking, one can’t seem to stop peeing on the carpet, one doesn’t do anything but sleep, and the other two are trying to make a baby, if you know what I mean. The phone won’t stop ringing with owners checking in and your assistant is out with the flu, so it’s all on you now. To add to your stress, a storm comes in, you lose power, and the yard you take the dogs out to is now covered in muddy grass.
You can handle the storm, the mud, the phone, and even the behavior of ONE dog. Five? No. Your stress is multiplying exponentially with every new variable. Test this theory in your own life by finding your own example. I’m willing to bet your ability to handle whatever it is would be greatly increased if you could eliminate some variables, right?
What do you do about it?
One of the best ways to eliminate the added stress of extra variables is to account for them. Truly, just being aware of what you’re agreeing to, and what variables are entering the mix, can have a profound impact on how you handle it. Before agreeing to a project, take a “Murphy’s Law” approach and list everything that could go wrong or come up in your way. If the list is bigger than you can handle, exercise your right to say no. Seriously, say no. Easier said than done sometimes, I know. But practice makes perfect, right?
3. You suffer Analysis Paralysis
You need to stop being in charge of everything because eventually you’ll begin to suffer from analysis paralysis. You’ll have so much on your plate, that you won’t be able to quickly decide what to do next. Critical thinking and quick decision making are two invaluable qualities of successful leaders, and when you’re trying to handle everything at the same time, you lose your ability to practice those two skills.
Let’s go back to the example of the dog trainer. Handling all those dogs means you’re also in charge of the behind-the-scenes stuff. What if one of the dogs needs a special diet because he’s allergic to a common food ingredient? Maybe in all the chaos, you’re trying to find the correct food that works for all the dogs, while juggling everything else, and your stress level has you responding to questions with, “I don’t know! I can’t think right now!”
There are so many variables and choices to make that it ends up overwhelming you – as it should. When we’re overwhelmed by all the choices, we can’t decide anything. Likewise, when we’re overwhelmed and need to make a decision, we often can’t decide because it’s just one more thing we have to worry about. That’s when mistakes are made.
What do you do about it?
In order to avoid analysis paralysis while juggling a lot of projects or variables, make a list of two or three options you can take should an issue come up. You have to do this in advance, but it’s just like planning an exit route in case of emergency. Take a minute and plan your exits. What happens if something you’re working on begins to tank? Where do you go? What indicators do you have in place to let you know when it’s time to bail?
Likewise, what options do you have in place when things are going well? What if that project finishes early and under budget, what then? Make sure you reduce the number of options you have so you can quickly make a decision when it’s crunch time. When you have a process or pathway in place for each variable, you don’t have to do much juggling. When “A” happens, you have options 1 & 2. When “B” happens, you have options 1 & 3 – as an example. Processes take away the paralysis because the options are reduced. It’s kind of like creating a simple operator’s manual for whatever you’re juggling. Wouldn’t that be helpful?
4. You lose Big Mo!
If you made it this far in the post, I want to reward you with the juiciest part of this meaty topic. Momentum is your absolute best friend. When Big Mo shows up, you know it’s time to start making some amazing things happen with less effort and more grace. Big Mo shows up and everything seems to fall into place naturally. You’re starting to feel like you’re working smarter instead of harder, right?
As a recovering control-freak, it’s still difficult for me to let go of things and delegate, but I’m working on it. What keeps me focused and grounded is something said to me at a business event in Dallas in late 2013…
“When your position is everywhere, your momentum is ZERO. You simply cannot move forward if you have to be everywhere at the same time.”
That has stuck with me since. Think about all the projects and parts you have your hands in right now. If you’re also feeling like you aren’t getting any closer to your ultimate goals, maybe it’s time to reevaluate the stuff you’re in charge of, my friend. Let’s look at an example to really hammer it home…
Let’s say you’re a manager at a local tech company. You’re up for a promotion, so you’re looking for ways to shine so you can increase your chances of getting that new position and pay raise. You start saying yes to projects just outside your scope because you want to be seen as a “team player” in the eyes of the executives. You’re feeling a little overwhelmed, but you keep pushing forward.
At the same time, your best friend is getting married (again) and has elected you to take care of the bachelor party and trip to Vegas. He wants it done right this time, so he’s entrusting you to do it (his idiot brother was in charge last time, so it’s up to you to show everyone how it’s really done). You’re trying to juggle business and pleasure, but it’s starting to feel a little bit like torture. Several moments throughout each day you feel the burning desire to quit both your job and your friendship and just escape the stress.
You don’t do it though. You follow through on your commitments. Here’s the honest truth, however.
The extra projects did get done, but they weren’t great. Your best work happens when you’re focused on only one or two projects. These extras cost you bandwidth and sleep and patience and time at home and sanity and –– the list goes on.
You make it to Vegas for the bachelor party, but you all end up paying more than you should have because you waited too long to book the hotel and events – you were so busy with work projects to worry about the Vegas trip, right? Ultimately, you got the projects done and the bachelor party happened, but you missed the promotion and Vegas could have been cheaper and easier. Frustrating, right?
We’ve all been there. We know the goal (a promotion, for example) is where we need to focus our intentions and actions, but we spread ourselves so thin into all these different places, our position expands. Suddenly, we’re involved in so much, we don’t have any energy or momentum to move toward that goal.
Okay, so what do you do about it?
The best thing you can do for yourself when it comes to keeping momentum is to prioritize which goal(s) is the most important and only involve yourself in actions and endeavors that get your closer to that goal. Write that goal out onto a piece of paper and prioritize everything you have going on around it. Look over the list with a discerning eye, and eliminate the things that pull you in a different direction. I know its easier said than done, but its paramount to your overall success. Think about it again:
“When your position is everywhere, your momentum is ZERO.”
Don’t let that happen to you. Big Mo is the adult version of Santa Claus as a 5 year old. It may not be totally real, but man will we put in the effort to get him to show up and give us what we want, right? Treat it the same. Do whatever you can to help make it possible for Big Mo to show up and give you presents. Trust me, your pace and trajectory will never be the same.
As men, we are taught to be self-reliant and efficient problem solvers. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that ideal, save for the fact that it causes us to take on way more than we want, stretching us too thin, and causing us to deliver less than our best. So there’s that. When you put it all on your shoulders, you are doing yourself a disservice. Instead, prioritize the projects and actions that are wholly yours to take on, and delegate the rest to others.
When you limit what you commit to and stay focused on just your course, you’ll find that you reach your goals faster and with less stress. You’ll also have the chance to enroll support from others, which will help you accomplish more things as a team and not a one-man-show. Start with a prioritized list, and take it one day at a time, my friend. If I can do it, you can do it.
Where can you let go of some control and stop being so in charge of everything?
What’s your biggest fear in letting go of some control? What do you wish you could delegate?
Let me know in the comments below! And remember to SUBSCRIBE to the podcast!