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If you’re talking about your own life, control is what matters. Self-control, or self-discipline, is fundamental to your ability to succeed in anything.

But if you’re talking about the life or lives of others, control is an illusion; influence is what matters.

Whether it’s with your kids, your employees, your peers, or even your boss, the more you seek to exert control (or expand the level of your control), the less you’ll actually have.

Why? Because agency is an inalienable trait in humans. The more you seek to contain it, the less successful you’ll be.

Those who don’t understand this (e.g. new parents, new managers, or tyrants) attempt to accomplish their dreams and vision through control. They inevitably find themselves unsuccessful (or fired, or dead).

But those who understand that control is not really theirs to have (e.g. experienced parents, managers, or leaders) seek rather to shape the course of events through influence. They find themselves far more successful at accomplishing their objectives, and far less negatively affected when they don’t.

It’s ironic, really. The more you seek control, the less of it you have. The more you give up control and seek only to influence, the more control you experience.


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