Lack of Control
I love marketing and communications. Heck, I love it so much that I co-founded a digital marketing agency and went through the pains of growing it. And selling it. And buying it back. But whatever. All to say is, I love storyline, narrative, and seeing it all come to life strategically across different channels and media.
So it was sort of a surprise to me when I realized the new Eden Green website was going live today. While I cast vision at the beginning, and saw the close-to-final product, I had very little control over how or why it turned out the way it did over a 2–3 month process. And while the old me would have been super anxious about it, I’ve been learning both actively and passively that I can’t control 99% of what goes on around me.
The reality is that I head up a sizeable land development company, construction company, farming operation, and tech company, all rolled up into one organization, and all running simultaneously at breakneck speed. And at that velocity and scale, I just don’t have control.
The hardware above also showed up to the facility yesterday. “Pretty rad. I wish I had thought of putting these up.” Nope. No input from me. BUMMER.
At the same time as our new facility was being built, I was also sending my first kid off to college. FAR off, about as far away as she could get from Texas and still be in the U.S. I don’t have any control (other than paying tuition) about what she is doing up there. For those of you who don’t have college-aged kids yet, let me help you out: you really don’t have control over them past age 15–16, you just *think* you do. University merely cements that reality.
The cumulative effect of all this: it has broken my illusion of career progression and control in life. The higher up you get, and the more responsibility you obtain, the more people that report to you or that you are accountable for, the less you actually have control. And the more I try to control it, the worse it turns out. If you don’t believe me, try to find a positive article on micro-managers. I’ll wait.
It bears repeating:
The higher up you get, the less you actually have tactical control.
So what’s the solve? For me, it’s all about actively letting go. Asking if they need my help, availing myself to being pulled in when needed, but getting out of the way once I know they know the vision. I probably put more effort now into managing my own expectations, and restraining myself from subjective commentary, even if I really do think it would be helpful. And the more I think, “I’ll just do this one part myself”, the more I take a step back and remind myself, “trust them, they’ve got it.”
Most importantly, if things don’t turn out *exactly* the way I want them to be or look, I make sure I don’t grab the wheel and “fix” it, or say “I told you so” if it didn’t work out. I’ve learned that is the single most undermining thing I can do for my company’s next-gen leaders. It breaks down trust.
For people wanting to lead well, I believe trust is proportional to lack of control. The more we give our team autonomy to get to a desired outcome, the more the company grows. Inversely, micromanaging, second-guessing, and constant tactical shifts-from-above create tangible, prohibitive caps to scaling a company.
So, what do you need to lose control of today?
By the way, I think my team, and the website, is awesomesauce. My head of marketing Allison, and the crews at Knapsack, Punch, and Eyeful did a wonderful, collaborative job of making it all happen. Give them, BuzzShift, and EZPR a call for all your marketing/PR needs.