Things You Cannot Control

There are two types of things in the world: things you can control and things that are out of your control. Seems obvious, but we notice that most entrepreneurs spend a lot of time and energy on things they cannot control: interest rates, the competition, customers’ budget limits, etc.

This is a waste of time and energy. So it’s worth getting clear on what you can and cannot reasonably control and then putting your attention only on what you can affect.

When we first heard this from Gay and Katie Hendricks, it seemed too simple to be meaningful, but then we tried this exercise and it made sense:

First, get two sheets of paper. At the top of one, write in big, bold letters: Things I CAN Control. At the top of the other write in equally large letters: Things I CANNOT Control. 

Next, make a list on each sheet. The things you can control are things like your spending, how many hours you work, whom you hire, when you launch a new product, etc. This are things under your direct control. The things you can’t control are pretty much everything else — other people’s actions, what they think of you or your company, etc.

Third, review your lists. 

Fourth, get a lighter and set fire to the list labeled “Things I CANNOT Control.” (Do this in a safe place.)

Finally, start working on the things on the other list. That is your work. Enjoy it.