Control. Fear’s Best Friend.

As Tony Robbins said,

“𝑤𝑒 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑜𝑏𝑠𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑒𝑑 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑐𝑒𝑟𝑡𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑦, 𝑎 𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑐𝑒𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑑 𝑠𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑡𝑟𝑜𝑙, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑦𝑒𝑡, 𝑝𝑎𝑟𝑎𝑑𝑜𝑥𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑦, 𝑤𝑒 𝑐𝑟𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑢𝑛𝑐𝑒𝑟𝑡𝑎𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑦 (𝑠𝑢𝑟𝑝𝑟𝑖𝑠𝑒)… 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑜𝑓 𝑐𝑜𝑢𝑟𝑠𝑒, 𝑤𝑒 𝑜𝑛𝑙𝑦 𝑐𝑟𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑢𝑟𝑝𝑟𝑖𝑠𝑒𝑠 𝑤𝑒 𝑙𝑖𝑘𝑒”.

When situations arise that we do not like, it often results in us trying to create even more certainty, more control, more “safety”.

For me, that drive to know every move, always knowing the next 10 steps in advance, showed up in every area of my life.

In my career, when negotiating a contract, hiring an employee, or launching a new market. My 𝗻𝗲𝗲𝗱 for certainty, to know every potential outcome, and to have contingencies for each, drove me freaking nuts. Not to mention, the impact it had on my entire team that reported up to me.

“𝑻𝒓𝒊𝒄𝒌𝒍𝒆 𝒅𝒐𝒘𝒏 𝒇𝒆𝒂𝒓”, I will call it. Most people reading this post know what I’m talking about. Whether on the receiving end of it from clients, managers, or execs, or being the person actually perpetuating it throughout the organization.

One time in particular stands out, when I launched a team here in Austin, TX, five years ago. Freshly promoted to a program management position, and my first key initiative was to prep and launch this new market.

𝗜 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗽𝘂𝘁 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸, 𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗴, 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄𝗶𝗻𝗴, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗵𝗶𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗯𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗷𝗼𝗯

𝗜 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗴𝗿𝗮𝗺 𝗯𝘂𝘁𝘁𝗼𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝘂𝗽, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗱𝘆 𝘁𝗼 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝗮𝘁𝗲

𝗜 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗼𝗻 𝗺𝘆 𝘄𝗮𝘆 𝘁𝗼 𝗔𝘂𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗻.

This was the second market I had launched, and I felt better prepared and ready to handle any challenges this time around. 𝗜 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗱, 𝗹𝗼𝗴𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴. And on Monday morning, the new team and I met in the training room.

For anyone that has ever trained others, you know you often find yourself with an eye out for..

𝗪𝗵𝗼 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝘆

𝗪𝗵𝗼 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘃𝗲

𝗪𝗵𝗼 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗯𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗯𝗲𝘀𝘁

And so on….

This time was no different. Very quickly, I was able to see that the manager I hired for the market was the right person for the job. He was eager to learn, open to feedback, and already willing to take ownership of his part of the business.

“𝑾𝒊𝒏𝒏𝒆𝒓!” 𝗜 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗰𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗺𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗺𝘆𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳.

However, the team member that was also in training with us, was quiet, partially disinterested, and by Wednesday morning, had quit.

The worst part of it, I didn’t see it coming.

I didn’t see the signs.


Because, I was so overly concerned with everything 𝗚𝗢𝗜𝗡𝗚 𝗥𝗜𝗚𝗛𝗧, and wrapped up in my own thoughts, that I missed what was right in front of me. A guy that was not a good fit for the position, and that, early on was contemplating leaving. And did!

I couldn’t believe it. How did I not see it coming?

As you can imagine, my busy a** mind went more into overdrive (if that was even possible), as I still had to find a replacement, and inform my new manager about the “hiccup”. Looking back at this point in my life and career, I’m still in awe sometimes at how spun up I was about the whole ordeal, and how…

When I told my manager, he was just like, “𝑜𝑘𝑎𝑦, 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑤𝑒 𝑑𝑜𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑜 𝑐𝑜𝑢𝑟𝑠𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑡?”

And the manager I had hired for Austin, “𝐼 𝑔𝑜𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠, 𝑚𝑎𝑛”

“𝑾𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒉𝒆𝒍𝒍?”

To me, it had felt like the end of the world, but to those around me, it was just an operational challenge, that we not only overcame, but exceeded the client’s expectations for the launch.

I appreciate moments like this, because it greatly helped me grasp that often the certainty we create is in the story we tell ourselves, in our minds. And often, by trying to control everything, we are more likely to destroy it, rather build or improve it.

Fortunately, even though I was in a tizzy, my management style was collaborative vs dictatorial. Had it not been, I would have gotten in the way of the manager I hired, and kept him doing what he did best. Building the team for his market.

I chuckle a little looking back, because the manager I hired, tactfully told me about the signs that the guy would likely leave. And, he was right. But, I was living in my mental cycle of…

“𝑻𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒍𝒂𝒖𝒏𝒄𝒉 𝒎𝒖𝒔𝒕 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒃𝒆 𝒉𝒂𝒍𝒕𝒆𝒅”

“𝑰 𝒋𝒖𝒔𝒕 𝒈𝒐𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒎𝒐𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏, 𝑰 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒇𝒂𝒊𝒍”

“𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒊𝒔 𝒏𝒐 𝒓𝒐𝒐𝒎 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒆𝒓𝒓𝒐𝒓”

𝗔𝗻𝗱 𝗼𝗳 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀𝗲…”𝑰𝒇 𝑰 𝒔𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒘 𝒖𝒑, 𝒊𝒕 𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒍𝒅 𝒄𝒐𝒔𝒕 𝒎𝒆 𝒎𝒚 𝒄𝒂𝒓𝒆𝒆𝒓”

What’s funny, and a bit ironic is, while I thought that I was decreasing the chances of failure by thinking of everything, my own mental dialogue actually increased them. Primarily because I was unable to see what was going on right in front of me, and hear what other people were telling me.

It’s normal and human to want a level of certainty in life, as it helps keep us alive under the appropriate circumstances.

However, I would venture to say, many of us will grasp, claw, and do anything we can to feel we are in control of something that 𝗪𝗘 𝗣𝗘𝗥𝗖𝗘𝗜𝗩𝗘 could cause us pain, or to be unsafe. That includes our careers, our marriages, our friendships, or any other area of life.

The question then becomes, where is the line between a healthy level of certainty vs unhealthy?

In my opinion, we cross the line of a healthy dose to destructive, when the need and thoughts around It starts to deteriorate

𝗢𝘂𝗿 𝗿𝗲𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗵𝗶𝗽𝘀 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝘀𝗽𝗼𝘂𝘀𝗲, 𝗸𝗶𝗱𝘀, 𝗳𝗿𝗶𝗲𝗻𝗱𝘀, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗳𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗹𝘆

𝗢𝘂𝗿 𝗰𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗲𝗿 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗲𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗼𝘆𝗲𝗲𝘀, 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗰𝗹𝗶𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀, 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗴𝗲𝗿𝘀

𝗢𝘂𝗿 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗻𝘂𝗮𝗹 𝗿𝘂𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗼𝗯𝘀𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻

At the end of the day, It’s okay not being able to control everything.

Often, the more we chase control, the less we have.

Matt believes that for entrepreneurs and leaders to truly use business as a force for good in the world while creating profit, it starts with them.

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