Control the Controllable

Control the Controllable

Control the Controllable

About two weeks ago, I went to bed with plans for a two-hour early morning bike ride. 

The next morning, I was up at 4 am and getting geared up for my workout. But the weather had other plans for me – I drew the curtains open and saw that it was pouring rain. 

A weather check online told me we’d had steady rainfall overnight and in Dubai that meant clogged-up roads, traffic jams, and basically, chaos. We’re a young city in the desert, so we’re not exactly rain-prepped! 

I loaded my bike in the back of my car and thought I’d get the ride in when the rain slowed down. But when I learned we were going to have nearly 48 hours of rain, I knew that bike ride was unlikely to happen. 

As some of you know, I’ve only just taken up cycling for my Ironman training. As a beginner, I’m not confident enough to take on wet roads and rainwater-filled tunnels. 

I had two options: I could blame the weather and drop the idea of a bike ride, or take control of the situation and move my workout indoors. 

A quick decision later, I headed over to my gym, got on a stationary bike, and got in that two-hour ride after all. It wasn’t ideal, but I ticked that workout off the list – something I know a lot of cyclists in Dubai didn’t do that day. 

There’s a little principle in that anecdote that I apply to many other areas of my life too: At work and beyond work, I make it a point to control the controllable and stress less about factors beyond my control. 

In my workout plan, there were factors that I could control and ones that I couldn’t. The weather was a factor that I couldn’t control. Taking the workout indoors and still making the time to get it done: totally within my control.   

And just like that, in business too, for every situation, some factors are within your control and some outside of it. 

Controlling Outcomes in the Financial Services Industry

Let’s talk about what’s happening within the UAE’s Financial Services sector. A few significant regulatory changes are coming about, as a result of which the way that Financial Advisors and Life Insurance Advisors earn their commissions is going to change. 

Advisors who are in it for the short-term are likely going to come under a lot of pressure, and I think they’re going to have a hard time surviving these changes. Many of them are likely to exit the industry or look for more stable, salaried positions with insurance brokerages and financial institutions. 

Once again, I have two options here: I can either choose to get worked up about it because my commission levels are going to change, or I can pivot my strategy so that I can make the best out of the new regulations. 

This took a little longer to work out than the decision to hop onto a stationary bike, of course. But in principle, I did the same thing as I did in that situation: I took control and figured out my next best plan to get the results that I wanted to achieve. 

Our 2020 planning then involved a different business strategy to accommodate the new commission structures that we were going to be working with. 

I’ve decided to grow my team this year and hire advisors who are looking for a salaried position as a result of the upcoming changes. I’m looking out for books of business that I can potentially buy from Advisors who are looking to exit the business. From these books, I plan to cherry-pick my Right Fit Clients and offer to manage their finances for them when their previous Advisor is no longer able to serve them. 

Choice Over Destiny

Because I’ve always been in it for the long-term, my business doesn’t really take a hit when the rules of the game change. We adjust our approach to make the most of the new circumstances. We control the controllable. 

When I was at the Marathon des Sables, an ace ultra-runner Rob Pope gave me this advice: ‘Run the runnable, walk the rest.’ The MDS course has dunes, mountains, rocky terrain, and flatlands that go for miles. His advice to me was run those flats, run down the dunes, run whatever you can. For the rest, walk, crawl, move forward in the best way possible. 

A lot of us control the controllable subconsciously. But many of us also get consciously stuck, complaining about situations, people, and conditions outside of our control. 

Does anyone remember Stephen Covey’s Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern? Covey teaches us that although we are concerned about a lot of things from our health, wealth, our family to national debt and the political climate, we cannot control them all. It is only the few factors within our circle of influence that we have the power to change, such as our behaviour, our discipline, our priorities, and our saving habits. 

Empowerment comes from knowing what you have the power to change and working on making the best out of that.

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