Give Up Control to Gain Freedom and Power

give up controlWhen you give up control you can be truly powerful and free.

Business is about evaluation and judgment. We define relative rights and wrongs and we lock into them and they create actual control prisons for us.

And the more we practice being in control and knowing exactly what everybody around us should be thinking and doing, our ability to truly be free and powerful goes down.

Want an example? Think of any control freak you know. More than anything, a control freak worries incessantly about being wrong, and has a huge need to be right.

The Leadership Gift™ isn’t about stopping control — it’s about releasing or freeing up freedom, power, and choice.

We spend a lot of time going in circles, trying to treat our angst about the problem rather than finding and dealing with the real problem.

This is the cause of anxiety and stress (remember the control freak?). When this happens, you can either go into the Control Prison in which we treat the stress or anxiety without solving the real problem because of not finding it. Or we can use The Leadership Gift to get into the Power Cycle, and work on finding the real problem.

Learn to Give Up Control to Gain Power

There’s a great book that uses the box metaphor for something very similar to The Control Prison: Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute. It says that when you’re in “the box”, you’re treating other people as objects instead of truly being present and treating them as people.

I liken the box to being in the Control Prison where we operate from mindsets of Denial, Lay Blame, Justify, Shame, Obligation or Quit in order to cope with problems we don’t know how to overcome. The Control Prison is all of the positions on The Responsibility Process™ chart below Responsibility. No learning occurs here. We don’t know how to be bigger than it or get the lesson from it so that we overcome the problem.

In each of these mental states there is a logic that you’re absolutely sure is true, because within that point of view or mental state, that’s the only logic available to you.

When you’re in the state of Blame, for example, you’re absolutely sure that some other entity needs to change so that your life can get better and there is no other view. In Obligation you are sure you are trapped and have no choice.

If you apply your skills, your problem solving tools, your organizational process from the mental state of Lay Blame, all you’re going to do is validate your mindset, which is that the other party must change. That’s a position of no power. No problem gets solved from the mental place of Lay Blame.

The same is true for the others states. The reason this is a controlling place in the mind is that you are trying to control things you have no control over.

The line between Obligation and Responsibility is the line between the control prison and The Leadership Gift. There’s constant pressure to stay below that line in these mental states, because the logic of this mental state is very simplistic and the premise is very clear.

Get Started With This 5-Minute Practice Tip

In your life or world, if you listen to other people continue to complain about the same thing over and over again, you can bet money that that’s a Control Prison situation/cycle.

Do you find yourself complaining or stressed out about the same thing over and over? Then maybe it’s time to find a different way to tackle this situation.

Don’t expect other people to change — that might never happen. You can’t control other people, only yourself. Only you can work on changing how you react and learn to deal with situations differently.

Don’t be afraid to look for the real causes — be willing to be truthful with yourself. Applying lessons from The Leadership Gift or using tips in my many blog post will help.


Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.

Posted in Responsibility on 06/16/2014 01:51 pm
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