How often do you accept your response is the only thing in your control?

Today is July 14 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “How often do you accept your response is the only thing in your control? Navigating the chaos of life involves hundreds of stimuli and reactions each day. Each stimuli and reaction involve some combination of thoughts, emotions, and time required to process the situation.

For those translating their dreams into reality, they understand the observations by British politician and writer Benjamin Disraeli who noted “Circumstances are beyond human control, but our conduct is in our own power.” So many people get paralyzed along the path of navigating the chaos because they become obsessed with controlling everyone, everything, and every event they encounter. Their fear of losing control blinds them to have any vision of their self.

Without any vision of who they are, they go on blaming others for their lack of progress, their inability to translate their dreams into reality, and their perceived lack of fortune in life. Despite our best efforts, life is unpredictable. Take for example what happened with an attempted world record.

On November 14, 2005, a sparrow knocked over 23,000 dominoes in the Netherlands, nearly ruining a world record. The bird flew through an open window at an exposition center in the northern city of Leeuwarden where employees of television company Endemol NV worked for weeks setting up more than 4 million dominoes to break a world record. Fortunately, the stop gap measures put into place allowed 4 million (92%) out of a possible 4.4 million to fall and set the world record at that time. Despite the organizer’s best efforts to prevent accidents or mistakes, an external force had a direct impact on the event.

When you have everything lined up, like those 4.4 million dominoes, and you believe you have complete control of the situation, how do you react when an external event happens? Those who navigate the chaos recognize the randomness of life often creates circumstances beyond their control.

Too often people create their identity from the events in their life. For example, when someone loses their job they might consider themselves a loser.

As best-selling author Beverly D. Flaxington wrote

“The problem with defining yourself by what happens to you is that life is more random than we’d like to think. Yes, sometimes the person who studies hard or networks well or works all hours succeeds in a way that someone who isn’t putting in the effort does not. However, as much as you may not like to admit it, there are also people who don’t put in a lot of effort and are naturally talented in a certain way, connected to the right people, or simply in the right place at the right time. Controlling what happens to you is not as easy as it may sound. But you can control how you respond.”

Those who navigate the chaos build a level of personal confidence over time that allows them to move through life in an unshakeable manner, regardless of the outward circumstances. Part of that confidence involves recalling the words of former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” When you catch yourself reacting in a manner counter to the way you wish to act, stop and ask yourself why are you allowing the event, situation, or person to create such a reaction?

If you find yourself feeling inferior at such a moment in time have the self-awareness to stop and ask why that is? Why are you allowing others to make you feel inferior since they are unable to do so without your consent?

Navigating the chaos each day requires substantial efforts of time, effort, and dedication. This is not a weekly or monthly Navigate the Chaos post, it is a daily question to ask yourself. Your commitment to translating your dreams into reality can ill afford to be an occasional hobby; it needs to be a daily grind. Now it is okay if that grind is 15 minutes one day and two hours the next but do realize the necessity of daily persistence.

During each day moving forward understand that being a ‘good’ person does not necessarily mean only good things will happen to you. Rabbi Harold Kushner experienced this firsthand. In his international best-selling work of non-fiction When Bad Things Happen to Good People Kushner poses the question ‘if the universe was created and is governed by a God who is of a good and loving nature, there is nonetheless so much suffering and pain in it?’ The book is dedicated to the memory of Kushner's young son, Aaron, who died at the age of 14 in 1977 of the incurable genetic disease progeria.

“You have to learn to start separating who you are and how you think about yourself,” Flaxington noted, “from what happens to you, good or bad. People who are super smart and talented, and even well networked and liked, get laid off. Someone who is devoted to health and wellness and takes good care of their physical body gets sick. Being a ‘good’ person doesn’t mean that only good things will happen to you.”

How often do you accept that your response is the only thing in your control?