The Illusion of Control

pocket watch illusion of control by BotheredByBees, on Flickr

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

The Illusion of Control

The above image offers little value at first glance. An old school pocket watch with a crazy mosaic inside. When you take the time to really check it out though, something strange starts to happen.

Go ahead, click the image and enlarge it. Relax your thinking and stop trying to put words and thoughts to what your eyes are seeing, give up the need to understand what is happening. Let it magically begin to amuse you. Play with it, one circle will start to move. You might refocus and another circle will start to turn, maybe in the opposite direction. Then the entire dial is turning, it comes alive…

Turn away for a little while, when you come back it will be impossible to see it NOT MOVING.

What if you could see everything in this way?

This happens thousands if not millions of times throughout our day. Controlled by agendas, timelines and endless commitments we miss out on the finer details, we skip the moments and treasures that make us laugh, love and smile because we believe we are in control of something bigger.

The illusion of control can lull us into a mindless haze that keeps us tired and busy and robs us of rich and rewarding experiences.

The illusion of control puts limitations on our happiness:

It occurred to me last night as I was becoming frustrated with my son. Not only did he not make it home for dinner, it was getting late and he was running out of time to finish his homework.

As I went outside to look for him my frustation turned to envy as I realized how nice of an evening it was outside. I knew he was out riding his bike with a buddy and memories of my own teenage years came floating back.

The night I lost track of time and didn’t get home until almost 11:00 pm, I was only 10, my parents were not pleased. The memories of building jumps and riding bikes with my own friends… How could I blame him?

Feeling the need to control my son was not only limiting my happiness, it was restraining his. I realized I couldn’t control him, the feeling of control was an illusion.

The illusion of control puts limitations on our relationships:

How often does this happen in your house? You hit snooze on the alarm clock, maybe 1 or 2 times too many. Before you even realize it, you are completely out of control.

Rush hour begins, shower, scrambling to find something to wear, arguing with the kids to get out of bed. Losing control, not liking it and not wanting the kids to miss the bus or be late for work yourself, everyone flys out of the house. Frazzled and frustrated what if that was the last time you ever saw your loved ones?

The illusion of control forces us to procrastinate. Rushing to be everywhere while emotionally and spiritually going nowhere, always thinking I will catch up with them later. Never taking the limitations off our relationships to develop the deep, meaningful connections that we need as humans to move from striving to thriving.

The illusion of control puts limitations on our potential:

When we go through each day with a diminished capacity for excitement, happiness and rewarding relationships our potential becomes shackled as well. We begin to live passively, without decision, purpose and direction.

The illusion of control we thought we had over our lives becomes outwardly apparent to those around us. Just as the elephants in the video below we lose our will to break free and mentally begin to scale back our dreams, goals, aspirations and the potential that we thought we had within us.

The real truth is that our potential is limitless, it isn’t until we do away with the illusion of control and start to experience life in real time, as it happens, that we are able to start realizing and achieving our potential.

Trying to control everything, whether its your kids, your employees, the meeting that went too long or what the weather might do today is unproductive and often destructive. Find value in every moment and a deeper understanding of your true potential  begins to come into clear focus.

 What do you think? Is control an illusion?

, , ,

2 Responses to The Illusion of Control

  1. Matt June 20, 2013 at 6:58 am #

    I agree that our potential is limitless, but not nesssicarily that contol is always an illusion. We all know, and probably have people in our lives that we would tab ” control freaks”, and I think that when you feel the need to have control over absolutely everything, it does become an illusion, and then it is unproductive and destructive, making you miss some rewarding experiences. But its all about balance, because in reality, there are deadlines, schedules, agendas and commitments. Also there will be tough, and challenging decisions and actions that will need to be made throughout our lives, and I beleive we all have control over these decisions. In the workplace, there will be people that need to be controlled(or maybe guided), and at home we need to teach our children some control, and restraint, and to show them that they have the control and will to make the right decisions in their lives.

    • teammartens June 20, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

      Yes, we all recognize the control freaks and usually it is immediately apparent how ineffective they are. Trying to do everything while accomplishing nothing.

      I simply believe when we run from event to event, deadline to deadline – these things start to control us, our minds believing that we are in control of the situation becomes the illusion.

      Whatever we place our focus on becomes the dominating controlling component of our lives. We can’t value what we don’t have a vision for. The things in our lives we don’t have a vision for suffer.

      If your vision is work, your relationships suffer. If your focus is debt, your cashflow suffers. If your focus is illness, your health suffers.

      Whatever you don’t want controlling your life, focus on its opposite. Teaching and guidance are where you nailed it but its never in our words and always in our actions that people learn what we are teaching.

      Great discussion.

Tell us what you think...

%d bloggers like this: