The art of letting go of control

I am a control freak.

There. I’ve said it.

I like to know what happens when, with whose participation, for how long and with which anticipated results. I love having an agenda, and I expect everybody to be on time and well prepared. It reduces uncertainty. I get annoyed if someone shows up for a meeting and hasn’t read the documentation beforehand. It feels like they are wasting my time.

This also means I need to consciously check myself to not micromanage and check in on results on a daily basis. I know it’s crippling and doesn’t allow for growth, and it’s still hard.

Theoretically, I know I don’t control everything.

Practically, I know that I can’t do everything myself.

Emotionally, it’s still difficult.

Action items: Trust your choices

Not doing everything myself is not the end of the world, but hopefully the end of ego. This does not mean I can just decide to let go. Instead, I am slowly learning to add more choices to the mix then just the “I’ll do it myself”.

Language is powerful, and by naming different options I bring those options into being, while giving my brain the illusion of control.

  • Would you like me to send you a summary in advance, or do you prefer me to walk you through the results during our meeting?
  • How would you like to receive this data? Do you prefer the spreadsheet or a text document with explanations on how we did the analysis?

Asking questions and clarifying options, has two distinctive advantages:

  1. It reduces complexity for the other person / the team. It’s much easier to decide between a limited set of options than between the entire universe (see: the paradox of choice).
  2. It allows my brain to keep up the illusion of control for herself, keeping the options as wide or as narrow as she feels comfortable with at any given moment/

Letting go is a process, both in the physical world as well as in the intellectual and emotional realm.

[This post is part of my journey with my career coach Stephanie Vora, a perk offered by Automattic. You can find all posts here.]

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