You Are Not In Control (And Yet, You Are)

Most things are not in your control. Let me give you an example.

This morning I was planning to wake up at 5:30am and write you a blog post. After posting that to our website and then emailing it to you, I would then check emails and then get Connor ready for daycare. The morning would be spent working on some things for the business and then afternoon is booked with meetings for various things.

Instead, I woke up to a call at 5:15am from our newest coach (Nate) who was doing his first early morning classes. He couldn’t get the door opened! The door would unlock, but the handle was disengaged from the latch. I called the campus maintenance guy, but he was just waking up as well and wouldn’t be there til at least 7am. We needed to figure out a solution for the people showing up for the 5:30 class!

At 20 degrees, it was a bit too cold to hold class outdoors. Luckily this campus has a common lounge area in another building that was open, so the 5:30 and 6:30 classes ended up doing a modified bodyweight workout in that space. When the maintenance guys got in, they tried to take the lock apart, but couldn’t fix it so they pried the door hinges out and took the door completely off to open it up. As of time of writing the locksmith is now here replacing the broken lock (apparently an internal piece snapped completely off)

Let’s take a step back and take a look at three things: the objective event, the possible unproductive reaction, and the actual productive reaction:

Objective event: The lock was broken, so Nate couldn’t open the door.
Possible reactions (unproductive): Nate could have blamed the coach who locked up the night before for somehow messing up the lock. He could have blamed me for giving him a bad key. He could have blamed himself for breaking the door. He could have complained that it was so cold out while he was trying the door.
Actual reaction (productive): Nate realized he exhausted all possibilities for himself, so he called and we talked it out.

Objective event: Nate called me to figure out a solution.
Possible reactions (unproductive): When Nate called, I could have been mad about being woken up earlier than I wanted and getting my plans messed up for the morning. I could have told him to just figure it out himself and gone back to bed.
Actual reaction (productive): We figured out that he could use the common area and change the workout up to fit the space while I called the maintenance guys and drove to campus to wait for them.

Objective event: We changed locations and the workout itself.
Possible reactions (unproductive): Members of the 5:30 and 6:30 could have complained that they were standing outside for 10 minutes while we were figuring out the door. They could have complained that they weren’t doing the original workout. They could have complained that they weren’t in the gym with bumping music.
Actual reaction (productive): They accepted what was happening and made the most of it. They worked hard on the workout, but also had some good laughs about the situation and even played Foosball after the workout!

I don’t know if I really believe in destiny, but I thought it was apropos that today’s entry for the Daily Stoic was the following:

January 9th
WHAT WE CONTROL AND WHAT WE DON’T
“Some things are in our control, while others are not. We control our opinion, choice, desire, aversion, and, in a word, everything of our own doing. We don’t control our body, property, reputation, position, and, in a word, everything not of our own doing. Even more, the things in our control are by nature free, unhindered, and unobstructed, while those not in our control are weak, slavish, can be hindered, and are not our own.” – Epictetus, Enchiridion, 1.1-2

Look, most things are out of your control. The weather and traffic are two great examples. Instead of complaining it’s cold, figure out what you can control (wear a jacket, wear a hat, start your car early, etc) Also, realize that seemingly innocuous statements like “It’s co-o-old!” are basically complaining even though it’s technically a statement about the weather. (same thing in the summer with “It’s hot!”)

Even if you try to prepare for events (like leaving early to avoid traffic) sometimes it happens anyway. Your reactions to them are in your control. Take a step back and ask yourself if it’s a productive reaction or a reactive reaction. We all have times of falling into the reactive stage, but if we’re conscious about it, maybe we can turn our mindset around to be more productive in the future.

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