Monday, September 5, 2016

Who is in Control?



“Wayne, I don’t think so.  The way I see it you will be the help desk for your division.”

“What?” I thought to myself.  This guy just asked where I saw myself going, ignored what I said (my ambition at the time), and is telling me something completely different.  I saw two choices in front of me, either nod my head and do what he said, or, leave the company and pursue my own destiny.  In other words, take control of my career, or, become beholden to someone else’s objectives for me.

A month later, I had a new job as a consultant, which provided me with new opportunities, gave me a chance to develop professionally and led me on a favorable path.  Right before I left Medco, as I was making my rounds to say goodbye, a few people said that it took courage to do what I was doing, that they wished they could make a change, but the money was to good to walk away from.  For me, it was not about the status of the money being paid. 

Recently, I was reminded that the only thing that you have control over are the things that you control.  I might not have had control over the work that was being assigned to me, but I did have control over whether or not I wanted to remain employed where I was.

Many external influences attempt daily to take a piece of control away from us.  An example would be commercials.  I recently heard a radio ad for a food supplement product that the speaker claimed after three months of using, his golf game improved dramatically.  REALLY?!?  I play a little golf; food has never affected my game.  How about Reality TV?  How many of the so-called stars have gone into business, written books, gone on tour and fans are excited to spend their hard earned money on their products?  We all tend to cede control of some of our focus, or, let someone else make decisions for us that, at times, distract us from our personal goals.

The lesson can be taught to our girls away in college.  It is a time in their lives filled with wonderful new experiences, a time where they are encouraged to be curious and a chance to choose a direction for their lives.  As important as their education is, they cannot control all aspects of the environments they place themselves in.  They will need to learn to identify the areas of their lives where they  have the control, where they will never have control over (and therefore become beholden to other’s agenda), and hopefully not to fall into the trap of blaming others for their position in life or condition.  As much as Debbie and I can try to teach them, this is a valuable lesson, they will need to learn on their own.

There is an old adage; he who controls the agenda controls the outcome.  In business, if you have a meeting, the person that controls the meeting’s agenda controls the content.  During the presidential primaries, Donald Trump controlled the agenda by pulling the candidates to address his points and play “his game.”  As we go through life, we need to be able to remember who is controlling the agenda.  When I left my job, I decided that I would not let someone else control the agenda of my career.