The word “content” is almost a four-letter word in the business world.
I think it comes from the fear that being content in life will doom you to get lapped by others.
That seems to make sense. When we stop learning new things we not only stay where we are, but we get passed by people coming up behind us that want to learn.
A good example of this is an interview I read with golf instructor Butch Harman. He said that he likes to surround himself with young people so he can stay young and energetic himself.
Obviously Butch is not running around acting like a kid, but he seems to want to learn from kids while also using his vast experience.
So maybe the secret is a good mixture of being content with life while remaining driven.
Being Content = Happiness
On one of my favorite blogs there was a recent post about how to be content. The study looked at people that try to control their entirety of their lives.
The finding was that these people often have more negative emotions.
Now, I think it’s pretty universal that we all want to live happy lives. So doing things that lead to fewer negative emotions makes sense.
But entrepreneurs also seem to often be blessed/cursed with the need to control as much as possible.
Controlling What You Can And Letting Go
The study looked at two types of control and how they are different.
The first was primary control and I think many entrepreneurs fall into this category. They try to control as much as possible including the things they really can’t control. And this can lead to frustration when things don’t go as planned.
I know I feel this way from time to time. It’s like, why have a plan if it won’t work out that way anyway?
Do you get that feeling?
But I have been trying to work more on secondary control, which is focused on the things you can control and letting go of the things you can’t.
The researchers wanted to point out that secondary control has often been viewed negatively, but that it can be very effective for people. We can work to master things, but perhaps not conquer them. This allows us to push ourselves to get better while accepting that it won’t always go as planned and that we’ll never conquer everything.
I’ve been trying to get better at using secondary control. It’s obvious I think to most people that trying to control everything can drive you crazy. That’s just not how life works.
And maybe as entrepreneurs it drives us extra crazy because we have so much riding on our businesses. We often get trapped in feeling the need to control everything to keep the wheels from falling off.
But maybe we can achieve success while using secondary control. We do our best to master our business while accepting that not everything is in our control. And when we learn how to roll with those surprises our businesses could be better and we can lead happier lives.
That sounds good to me.