“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
—Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter
I’ve been thinking a lot about control lately…
It’s a loaded word with both positive connotations and negative consequences depending on who is wielding it and who is experiencing it. Control can be the source of our greatest frustrations and most pronounced fears. It can also be the source of our greatest joy.
I have a natural desire to control everything. Control is my greatest desire and thus the source of my greatest frustrations and fears. I want to control, yet I don’t want to be controlled.
At its worst, control is wielded by a minority in power who impose belief systems on the majority of others who don’t believe or think or feel the same. At its best, control of destructive individuals, behaviors, items or tactics can ensure safety and security for individuals and communities.
Last week presented an inflection point on a macro and micro scale. The combination of national news on gun control and the overturn of Roe v Wade, alongside personal news about TARRA construction delays, supply chain disruptions, miscommunications, misaligned expectations, a parking ticket, plus a million other factors outside of my control piled up to a point of overflow.
Internally I snapped. Externally, I cried, yelled, was rude to someone who didn’t deserve it and f-bombed my way through a phone conversation. I wasn’t my best self.
After this unfolded, I escaped to the mountains. Over the weekend I analyzed my reaction, recognizing quickly that the frustration with my personal lack of control was overshadowed by the real frustration caused by focusing on what was out of my control vs what I could control.
Unfortunately, I didn’t emerge from the woods with answers. I simply uncovered a new set of questions that are now rummaging around in my mind.
- Control, when wielded properly can be a valuable tool to create safe, inclusive, effective and thriving individuals and communities. We need some controls in our society to ensure safety (stop signs), order (traffic laws), and protection (laws against theft and murder). But what is
- Why is it that power is associated with control of others? Power and control do not need to be mutually exclusive. You can have one without the other.
- As a nation, why do we continue to willingly and blindly allow the media and partisan political pundits (on both sides) to become the primary means of power and control without questioning the true power of these institutions and their value?
- What would taking control back from those in “power” look like and feel like if it was done in a way that wasn’t violent, filled with anger and rage or vitriol?
As the fires light around us, the heat closes in and creates a sense of lack of control, lack of power, fear, worry and concern.
However, while the fires rage, we must remember that the true control lies within us. Those in power want us to believe that we don’t have any control over our lives, our bodies, our decisions. The truth is that within each of us, we have a level of control that no one can take away, no matter how powerful they think they are. We have the ability to control not just the way we react to the information, but the ability to create a paradigm shift in the way we react to those in power.
Where do we go from here? To be honest, I don’t know. I am not sure what will happen next.
Instead of allowing fear to take hold, I plan to focus on what I can control, what I can do day in and day out to feel like I am making a difference. I plan to continue creating a world where we have the power to choose our path in life and thrive.
I will focus on creating TARRA as a place that cultivates the difficult conversations we need to have about the concept of power and control. I will dedicate my days to creating a community where members and allies can come together and have constructive dialogue about what it is to create an equitable world of work. A place where we collectively deconstruct some of the archaic and no-longer-useful conversations around control and power.
Let’s look at this moment as an opportunity to change the path, create a new course, develop a new dialogue.
I hope you will join me on this journey.
Onward together my friends,