“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not.” – Epictetus
Ultimately, we all have only one arena in which we control what is going on. That arena is in our own lives and contains only two categories; our thoughts and our actions. That is it. The entire sphere of our influence can be boiled down into only four words; our thoughts and actions.
Everything else is outside of that sphere. We do not control how other people treat us or how they think about us. We do not control whether or not we or a loved one gets sick, dies, or moves really far away. But we do control how we think about it and how we allow it to affect us.
Accepting this fact doesn’t mean we are not accountable for anything that happens outside our control. In fact, especially at work, the opposite is often true. We are accountable for everything that happens concerning work or matters that relate directly to our involvement.
For example, let’s say we are working on a project with a team and one of the team members fails to complete an important part of the project. The team member’s actions do not fall into a category that you have control over but that does not mean that it is acceptable for you to take zero accountability. Anticipating that everyone knows exactly what their job is and why it is vital to the team is a thought process you should have and you do control. Verbally ensuring that everyone knows their role and its importance to the project is an action that you have control over.
While understanding you only control your own thoughts and actions is a key to a happy and free life, be careful not to use this fact as a means to not take accountability for the ways you can use your thoughts and actions to effect change in the world around you.
virtus fortis vocat