The Illusion of Control

This past Thursday was the deadline for early action admissions at Georgia Tech and UGA, two schools to which our 18-year-old son is applying, and oh!—how I wished I were in control of his schedule.

If it were me, I would have had the application completed and the essays written weeks ago. But I did not have control over when, or even if, he submitted his applications.

This is the third time we have been through the college application process (one daughter is at Georgia Tech and one is at UGA), but somehow, I wanted to have more control over the process this time. Why was that?

Since this was a new experience for me, it got me thinking about the whole idea of control, and it made me realize that controlling ourselves—what we do and say—is not an illusion. Controlling others? Well, that’s a different story.

It is an illusion that we are in control of the world around us. The only thing we can control is how we respond to it.

In communications field, it is an illusion to think that you are in control of how people receive your message. You can control the research and time you spend crafting your message and the research and time you spend evaluating it. But you can’t control how people will receive it.

That does not mean we shouldn’t keep trying to improve the message.

In fact, you get to improve your message every single day.

The Serenity Prayer, which is used in countless recovery programs, sums up this concept of control perfectly: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

How do you control your message?

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