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Control in Life and Career

August 4th, 2020

I need control.

In recent chats with my wife I’ve been thinking about what I want is control. In my recent blog posts I talk about switching from “job security,” where you give control to your employer, to “income security,” where you do things to give you more control.

Ironically, at the end of the day, we can’t control much.  Cancer can knock out all of your plans (and finances). Death can shatter your world. And too many of us know, job loss can dismantle everything.

Stephen Covey talks about our circle of influence, which is where we should spend out energy, and contrasts that with our circle of concern. Think of the circle of concern containing things that you might be worried about but can’t do anything about. You can waste your whole like worrying about things that you have zero influence over. What a waste.

We can’t control our bosses and their weirdness. Sometimes the only thing we can do is leave.

We can’t control atrocities in the world, whether they be world leaders, hunger, poverty, addiction, abuse, etc. We can help one person at a time, and do that over our lifetime, but if you think too much about it you can easily get depressed and feel like you won’t make a difference.

We can’t control weather, fires, or other “force majeure” events… those things known as an “Act of God,” which actually have legal recognition. Fun fact: COVID-19 is likely going down in history as an Act of God.

We can’t control our own health. We might be able to influence it, through diet and exercise (and a healthy dose of luck), but how many people do you know have had some medical event that shifted their entire life? I know a few.

Back to our circle of influence.

There is one thing we can control, in our life and our career. No matter what happens, we can control our personal integrity. This has to do with being honest, being reliable, and being aligned with truth.

You might have opportunities in your career to get away with things, to cheat the system, to skim off the top, etc. You also have opportunities to NOT do any of those things. That is showing your personal integrity.

If you are like me, wanting control, realize that the most important things to control are things within ourselves. We can control how we respect others, how we lend a hand, how we help, and how we give. We can control how we talk about others, and who we build up. We can control how honest we are.

Where I’m at in my career, where I have less years to work than I’ve already put in, I’d say personal integrity is more important than anything else. You may not earn as much, but you will not have given away the peace that comes with having integrity.

I can’t say that having integrity will lead to prosperity and riches. But maybe what you get from it will be more rewarding.

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