Do you hear more people claiming that their world has been turned upside down and that they have lost control of their lives, their career options, their futures?
In his 1969 book, The Age of Discontinuity: Guidelines to our Changing Society, Peter Drucker advanced the thesis that now and for the rest of time all bets are off. Drucker contended that we are confronted by sharp “discontinuities” between the patterns and trends of the past fifty years and those of the future. These discontinuities make it impossible to predict the future, because prediction inevitably involves a forward projection of current trends.
Nearly 50 years has passed since the book was published, and one can’t help but note the irony that his prediction about being unable to predict the future has come to pass.
Note to Control Seekers:
If we are indeed in charge of our lives amid discontinuity, then why are there so many shocked complaints and fears about a loss of control? Why do so many of us seek a short cut to restoring personal control?
For far too many of us, the control of our lives is perceived as in the hands of forces beyond our actions; and far too often, control seekers cannot articulate a defined target, simply stating short-term fixes. We rationalize these thoughts with justifications that something (such as government) or someone (such as a boss) controls our fate.
Lacking a sense of their endgames and purposeful direction, control seekers might take the long way around toward arriving at a plan by asking various individuals for their opinions. Whenever granted an audience they will ask: “Considering my background, experience and credentials, where do YOU think I ought to go? What is a safe bet for my future? Where might I be better off?”
If Peter Drucker was still with us, he might have responded to these seekers with questions of his own such as: “What can you contribute in this world? Where do you want to be? What knowledge are you applying to your actions?”
Where There’s a Will There’s a Way
The 20th century Trappist monk, M. Eugene Boylan echoed the thoughts of many before him when he said: “life is defined as a self-movement, and a person is his own master.” Boylan submitted that knowledge directs our will, and our will defines our actions and our lives.
Unlike frantic control seekers, those who are diligently working toward a defined career or business plan are very comfortable discussing their endgames. They have clearly defined targets and ask only for deeper insights about prospective employers, partners, customers or acquisitions. They are well-poised to pursue each researched, willful next move.
The next time you hear a seeker complain about a loss of control or wish that someone else will reveal the next step to take, consider asking a few questions in return:
Where are you headed?
What is your plan?
What do you already know about your target?
Who are your guides?
Setting a personalized master plan can inform a healthy career/life journey. By controlling our own discerned, willful thoughts and actions (rather than conceding our future to fate) we no longer feel the need to scurry about seeking control wherever we can get it.
“What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.”