When were you last out-of-control?
In Zen practice we learn to accept and appreciate all aspects of our self. When each aspect is utilized for its purpose, life is much easier and freer.
Under normal circumstances we do not like to be out-of-control. We prefer that the world sees us as being in control of ourselves, our family, our careers, our time, etc. Therefore, we make being out-of-control bad, shut it down and deny a very important aspect of our selves.
Sometimes it is easiest to look at an aspect and its opposite at the same time, so in this case we will look at the aspects of Control and Out-of-Control.
We all have a Controller aspect; in public it may be very strong or weak, but internally, the Controller is large and in charge. The Controller is the one that orders our life, gets us where we need to go and tells us what to do when we get there. The Controller also likes to control others and all situations it encounters This can create large organizations and great wealth and it can cause great upset in your work, life and relationships. The aspect of Controller only has one job and that is to control.
In the opposite corner is Out-of-Control. Most of us don’t identify with being out-of-control on a daily basis. Because we do not identify with it and we hold it as a substandard aspect, it shows up when we drink or after anger cracks open the door or we get overwhelmed.
Out-of-control is often the release valve and serves the self by letting off steam and reducing stress.
Acknowledging Out-of-control and hitting a dance floor or the go cart track is much safer than the randomness that occurs from a night of drinking.
Some people rise to the occasion of being placed in out-of-control situations, others shrink. When you find yourself out-of-control you must be in the moment to respond wisely. We can be very creative and surprise ourselves when things are out-of-control. After many years, I would go as far as saying that in a nutshell practice is no more than becoming more and more ‘okay’ with being out-of-control.
Once we have a better appreciation for both aspects we can hold both equally and utilize them when appropriate.
Watching snowboarders in the half-pipe is a great example of holding both aspects with equal appreciation. They are certainly in control, of being out-of-control.
You hear the commentators say things like ‘he is so creative out there’ or ‘he makes it look so easy’. Sometimes it ends badly, but overall it serve these athletes well. Millions of non-elite people ski or snowboard; likely at the root is the pleasure of working in the moment with Control and Out-of-control.
Exceptional leaders know the right time and place to allow a meeting, project or employee to run out-of-control and precisely when to take back control.
Many of the largest companies in America have come into existence solely because someone funded Out-of-control and had the right people to manage it.
Google is a group example of harnessing (Control) the creativity and power of Out-of-control. If you have ever been to their campus it is readily apparent you are not in corporate America, yet they are one of the top corporations in the world. There is a pony in there somewhere, as they say.
Not everyone can make it in that environment and therefore, they have a rigorous screening process for employees to find this balanced appreciation of both aspects.
Can you embrace out-of-control? or do you shudder at the thought?
How would you be served by letting go of things you attempt to control, but really aren’t yours to control?
Who do you dis-empower through your control?
It takes a while of looking at both aspects before the Controller can relax and allow Out-of-control to take center stage at the right place and time in the appropriate amount. Sure there will be a faux-pas or two as you grow, but in the end I think you will be surprised at where they can take you.
May your Life go well