Losing Control

It’s funny how hard we struggle for control in business, when we actually have so little of it. None of us will acknowledge that, but it’s true. We are at the mercy of most everything that comes around – our employees, our clients, our state representatives, even the President of the United States. Our businesses hinge on consumers, on competitors, on the economy, even on the media’s portrayal of us. So what CAN we actually control?


That’s it.

Our decisions, our reactions, our strategies, our creativity, our attitudes, how we treat others every day – those are the things that define us and our businesses. That’s what we can own. Trying to control anything else is self-defeating.

I used to think I could control other people. Then, I had a kid. The first time I took my baby on an airplane, I learned instantly that I had zero control over that squirmy, spewing, screaming little bundle of joy.

We are at the mercy of others. Always.

At WilsonMcGuire, we are at the mercy of printers to get our jobs produced on time and on budget. We’re at the mercy of media reps to work with us to get the most effective reach and frequency. We’re at the mercy of our clients to collaborate, to communicate and to provide appropriate budgets and direction. And we’re at the mercy of our employees to develop the best ideas, the smartest strategies and the cleanest designs every day.

We can’t control people. Printers will go over budget. Vendors will miss deadlines. Employees will leave. We can’t control events. Wars will be waged. Stock markets will crash. Businesses will go under. But we CAN control the way we conduct ourselves – and our businesses – when those things occur. We can strive to develop positive, mutually beneficial relationships. And, we can maintain our integrity.

When you consider how often vendors become clients, employees become business owners, clients move to other marketing positions and bosses become employees, you realize just how pivotal every relationship can be. If we put all the energy we spend trying to “control” into developing or improving relationships, all of our businesses would be a whole lot better.