What We Control And What We Don't
Daily Stoic for January 9th. What we control and what we don’t.
“Some things are in our control, while others are not. We control our opinion, choice, desire, aversion, and, in a word, everything of our own doing. We don’t control our body, property, reputation, position, and, in a word, everything not of our own doing. Even more, the things in our control are by nature free, unhindered, and unobstructed, while those not in our control are weak, slavish, can be hindered, and are not our own.” —EPICTETUS, ENCHIRIDION, 1.1–2”
Every day, from the moment we wake up, we interact with an endless number of events and situations we have no control over. Basically, everything that’s outside of our minds is out of our direct control: from people around us, cars, accidents, luck, to even our own bodies.
Yes, it’s a bit scary, if you think about it. However, we can always control an important part of the equation: what we think and feel about those events.
What We Control And What We Don’t In Our Daily Lives.
We are accidents, waiting to happen. — Radiohead. There, there.
While we cannot change what it’s going to happen, we control our opinions, thoughts and attitude.
We don’t even need to keep a positive attitude to everything. Bad shit happens, and we can’t always answer with a smile.
What we can do is realize that delving into an anger or desperation spiral is not going to help us. We should acknowledge when something is outside of our control, and move on. Focus on something different or try to amend it in the future by doing things differently or taking different paths.
What We Control And What We Don’t In Our Business
Launching a business is no bed of roses. The path to success is plagued by bad days, difficulties, exasperating problems, and even bad luck.
What we don’t control
As an example, I told you about 0Password, the new project I am about to start, in past-yesterday’s stoic. It’s an App designed for digital nomads like me to keep their passwords securely stored and available from all their devices while on the go.
For the past three days, I have been trying to get my App approved for the App Store by Apple.
Long story short: it’s being a nightmare. The last rejection from Apple actually asked me to change the name of the App, accusing me of copycatting.
Imagine the power and influence that a small part of the equation (publishing one of the Apps in one market) can have on your whole business: changing the name of your product.
I have tried to discuss and debate with the guys at Apple without luck. I have to rename my app (and probably the whole project) just to be approved for the App Store.
What we control
My former self would have probably went into a rage spree, spending days arguing with the Apple guys and probably publishing some angry posts on twitter.
Approaching this from a stoic perspective, after I realized Apple’s staff is not keen on giving in or even discussing any argument, I let it go.
I decided to change the name of the App, submit a new version, and focus my energy on continuing with the project.
I have saved myself some days of furious arguments and some social media embarrassment. Instead, I am free to use that time in a more constructive way.
Yes, it was a hell of a day yesterday, going back and forth with the Apple review team.
I was not smiling.
However, I am glad I was able to know when to stop and instead focus on what I could control: change the name, re-submit the app, hope for the best and keep on working on other stuff.
The Daily Stoic of January 9th deals with what we control and what we don’t. While we can control anything that’s outside our minds, not even our bodies, we can control what we think or feel.
This alone can make a difference in our attitude towards problems, as I realized myself yesterday.
My suggestion: when things get out of your control, remember that the only thing that you can change is what’s inside of you. Move on and focus your energy elsewhere.