Thursday, 25 October 2012

Ignite Waterloo: losing control to gain control?

On Tuesday, I participated in an event called Ignite Waterloo, where you have to do a 5 minute speech that involves 20 slides timed for exactly 15 seconds each ... that you can't control.

At the beginning, when I was accepted to speak, I thought that my only problem would be figuring out how to speak for ONLY 5 minutes ... as we all know, I have trouble shutting up at the best of times. But, as I began preparing my speech about childhood wisdom, I realized that the problem wasn't what to say, when to say it or how to say it ... the problem was that I COULDN'T CLICK THE SLIDES MYSELF. It drove me absolutely bananas.

Then, it hit me ... I have serious control issues, that I will blame/thank(?) my father for. For example, during a massage (which, in theory, should be relaxing), my RMT said to me, "You know that you resist me a lot, right? Could you maybe just try to relax?"... then I heard the flush of my $90 going down the toilet. I can't even give control over my back muscles to a REGISTERED PROFESSIONAL for a mere 60 minutes. As my Mom says, I am my father's daughter (context: my Dad doesn't let any of us hold our passports when we go on vacation. My brother is 27 and I am 24 and my mother is well, a mother ... starting to make sense now? Thought so.).

I digress, in a lot of leadership situations, the need for control is an asset. But, as I learned over my past few weeks of presentation prep-induced anxiety, in some situations it can be a colossal hindrance.

So, this leads me to my revelation of the week. Having "control issues" is not a crutch to lean on. It is something that we can use to our advantage in order to regain control of an often overlooked area of leadership: ourselves. Sometimes, to regain control of ourselves as leaders we need to relinquish our control over everything else. As I worked on perfecting my speech to go along with timing that was out of my reach I realized that, without having control over the situation, the only person I could control was myself. Moreover, through relinquishing my situational stronghold, I had the ability to focus solely on my performance and be the best version of ME that I could be in that moment.

Talk about an A! HA!

So this week, my challenge is to relinquish your control and focus on yourself. Let someone else take the reins and see how you adapt. BUT please, don't go all "Jesus, take the wheel" on me ... I can assure you that Carrie Underwood is full of crap. Not only will you surprise yourself with your ability to - very agonizingly, in my case - relinquish control, but you will also surprise yourself with the things that you can learn along the way.

"Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power." - Lao Tzu

P.S. If you want to see my speech ... here it is!

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