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Do you really WANT control?

By January 19, 2015Advice


Lots of people say they behave in a certain way because they want to be in control, but do they? And are they?

There are plenty of times when I definitely do not want to be in control. Like when I am taking an airline flight for example. What I do want though is to have a level of control over the outcome, over the destination, over the safe arrival. With those things established I am quite happy to cede control of the journey to someone else.

I think this is true for most of us, and in most contexts. What we would really like to have is control over the future, which is impossible, or control over the outcome, which is often also impossible, or control over what happens to us….. you get the point.

What people are really looking for in most cases I believe is certainty, not control. This is not always a good thing. I can be pretty certain what will happen if I take control of the aircraft, it is just that I probably won’t like the outcome.

What I can do is to maximise the likelihood of me getting the result that I am looking for, which in this case is a safe arrival at my destination. I can do this by doing my research, by selecting the airline with whom I choose to fly, by using my past experience to get to the airport on time and by trusting in the skills knowledge and expertise of those pilots to whom I decide to hand control over my outcome. Whilst I am unable to have absolute certainty, and I certainly don’t want to have control, I am able to exercise informed choice, which will improve my chances.

This is true in so many of the things we do in life. An example close to my heart is in the area of superannuation, where an increasing trend is for people to want to have “self-managed” superannuation funds in order to exercise “control”. Another oft-cited example is where clients want to hold “direct stocks” so they have “control” over their investments. I think what the client is looking for is certainty that they will have enough funds to retire on or certainty that their investment will not disappear, but if we think rationally, their “choice” (direct stocks or self-managed superannuation) gives them no certainty whatever. You could (and I do) argue that in order to improve the likelihood of their desired result, they will need to engage the services of someone better qualified than they to “control” the journey.

The degree of control you need to exercise is also a variable. Take the pilot of my aircraft. I want him paying his full attention to the task for which he is best suited i.e. flying the plane, rather than worrying about the precise preparation of a vodka martini in the first class cabin. So often I see small businesses where the owner tries so hard to be in control of all facets of the business that they end up either neglecting the part they should be doing (steering the plane) or doing things they should not be doing at all (pouring the drinks), leaving no-one in control of the important things.

So time to decide. Do you really want control, or do you want to increase the certainty of your Don't wait for an upgrade, make an upgrade business advice south coast storm illawarra financial planning preparing for the inevitable odhfp odh financial planning wollongong wollongongs best financial planner best accountantoutcome? Are you going to strap in to the pilot’s seat or leave that to an expert? Can the plane continue on autopilot while you mix the perfect martini? Choice is a fine thing, maybe you need to exercise it. Choose your airline and your advisers wisely, use your skills and experience to make the choice, have faith in the adviser and the pilot, sit back relax and enjoy your flight.

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