“Expand your soul & shrink your ego.” – 5x founder, investor & professor, Gerry Hays

The concept of control infiltrates every part of life and is one of the most important things to understand in order to be successful, especially for high-achievers, self-starters, and entrepreneur-types. Why? Because we’ve essentially linked control to accomplishment. We’ve come to believe that if someone is successful, it’s because they’re in control enough to make desired outcomes happen. This is why control is a particularly difficult idea for people to master. There’s a persistent myth about control that runs rampant in our society: that we can have it. It’s time to debunk the myth that we can and should gain control. 

Doriot CEO & founder, Gerry Hays, helps us unpack this thought by explaining what control actually is, the role it plays in our lives, and how to free ourselves from its trap to truly achieve success. Watch his full video on YouTube and read on to learn how to master the concept of control.

What is control?

“Control is a figment of our imagination. We have no control.” – Gerry Hays

Unfortunately, the fact that control is presented as a possibility and, what’s worse, a holy grail of accomplishment, leads most of us astray. Pay attention to the language we use around the idea of control: we have, gain, and even take control. What’s more, we’re constantly told to “control our emotions,” “control our thoughts,” “control the situation,” and “control ourselves.” We’re taught that being “in control” demonstrates strength and power. This is what our society values, thus, we strive for it. But, our efforts are futile, because trying to control things simply pushes us farther away from success. 

What else in nature tries to control everything around it? Nothing. Nature sets things in motion and then lets them run their course. Gerry presents a thoughtful metaphor and asks us to consider the action of planting a tree. You can plant a seed and nurture it, but you ultimately don’t have total control over whether it becomes a full-grown tree.

The dangers of control

As human beings, we operate under the guise of being able to – and, even needing to – have control. We feel like we have to control and drive the outcome, down to every detail. This just leads to an immense amount of stress. We’re constantly stressed out about finding the right job, partner, friends, place to live… on and on we go, putting pressure on ourselves to make all the right decisions. It’s like, if we just work a little longer and push a little harder, we’ll be rewarded with success. It simply doesn’t work that way if we don’t first work on our mindset.

Our mind is like a hyper-active puppy, easily excitable, running in circles, jumping up and down, begging for treats and praise. While it’s up for debate just how many thoughts people have in a given day, many have claimed that number falls somewhere in the broad range of 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Where the puppy analogy breaks down is when you compare a puppy’s stereotypically happy demeanor to the overwhelmingly negative environment of our thoughts. It’s said that as much as 80% of our thoughts are negative (and 95% of those thoughts are repetitive, or of the same nature as the day before!). What’s the deal with all this pessimism? It’s certainly up to no good.

The Law of Attraction

The best way to explain the destructive effects of negative thinking is with a concept called the Law of Attraction. The Law of Attraction is a belief that a person’s positive or negative thoughts bring positive or negative experiences into that person’s life. To put it succinctly: we are what we think. If we’re thinking negative thoughts, we’re going to attract negativity into our life. We have to flip the script, because whatever we think about ends up playing out in our lives.

How to create a success mindset

In order to achieve success, you have to change the way you think and let go of the expectation that you can control things. So, how do we create a success mindset? Gerry lays out a few tips.

The first step is to pay attention to what you think at all times. Notice all the times you talk down to yourself, doubt your abilities, and compare yourself to others, stoking the fire of insecurity. Catch yourself every time you think of something bad happening. Focus on the present, not some scary, fictional future filled with failure.

A warning: The trap of immediate gratification

Many of us are caught up in a game that we don’t even know we’re playing – that’s how sneaky immediate gratification is. What is instant gratification? Instant gratification is a form of being controlled. 

Social media preys on this weakness, encouraging us to get stuck scrolling – comparing our lives to the idyllic, constructed lives of others, that are perfectly manicured for the social media fantasy world. Our pitfall is that we think that we’ll get confidence from external validation, when the real recipe for success is looking inward and not caring what others think. We have to work on knowing what we want, setting things in motion and then resisting the tendency to control outcomes, and attracting what we want with positive thoughts. You can’t force people to change, you can’t force things to happen – this only pushes people and things away.

Ultimately, people want to be around people with high vibrations. This is why confidence works. But, taking that one step further, what we’re ultimately striving for is beyond confidence – it’s a knowing. It does not come from external validation, it comes from your own inner strength in knowing yourself, what you want, and what you will achieve. As Gerry says, we should strive for an “internal understanding of oneself.”

“Success is the forward progression of a worthy idea. It’s all about the small steps taken towards achieving that objective.” – Gerry Hays