“If it should every happen to you that you turn to things outside of your control in order to please someone else, you must know that you have lost your purpose in life.” – Epictetus
One of the goals we should have as we attempt to navigate the expanse between who we are today and the people that we should be is that we learn to understand the things that are in our control and the things that are not. The next step is learning to accept the things that we cannot control as just that, outside of our control and to focus our energy on only the things that we can control.
It will happen almost daily that someone will request us to be involved in trying to control things that are we can’t. When we accept that request and try to accomplish these things, we are compromising a position that is not ours to compromise. Either we accept that we can not control certain things or we do not. There is no in between. We are not going to calm an angry client, we are not going to make a tardy employee prompt, we will not be able to ensure that we are on time to dinner with our spouse’s boss, and on and on.
We live in the here and now. When an action presents itself, we need to understand that our duty is to carry out actions to the best of our ability, but it stays there. Once a job is done, once we have explained a situation to the client, explained how being tardy hurts the team to an employee and made the correct amount of effort to be on time to dinner, the rest of it has nothing to do with us. We don’t control whether or not someone chooses to remain angry, how they value punctuality, or traffic and accidents.
We do ourselves a disservice and we slow our progress towards our best selves when we forget this.
virtus fortis vocat