A saying that you’ve probably heard a lot in business, in sports, and human performance in general is controlling the controllable. What does that actually mean? I wanted to take this concept of controlling the controllable, which is actually really good advice by the way, and take it out of the realm of being a cliché and into the realm of something that we can actually do.

In our workshops we’ll use something called the CIA Model to help students gain understanding of this concept and reduce stress in their own lives. It’s pretty easy to understand this model so here’s the short form.

CIA stands for Control Influence Accept. All of the circumstances and situations that we find ourselves in will fall into one of these three categories. I am going to discuss them in reverse order.


There is an enormous number of things in our world that we simply need to accept. Weather, traffic patterns, scores and outcomes of games that we’re not actually playing in. One of the best things that we can do for our own peace of mind is that when there’s something that we need to accept, is really just to accept it not waste any injury trying to change it.


The second category are things that we influence. The two big things that fall into this are your immediate environment, your car, your workplace, your home, and other people that you deal with. Listen, we do not have control over our kids, our colleagues, etc, but we do have influence over them, and one of the best things that you can do for your own growth is that in circumstances where you have influence to actually exercise that influence will dramatically boost your self-esteem.


Now we come to the category of things we can control. We’re here to talk about controlling the controllable. Well, guess what, folks? I’ve found that there’s really only one thing on the list of things that we can control. It’s your decisions.

That’s right, your decisions about your life are the only thing that we actually have direct control over. When you realize this, it becomes kind of confronting and kind of liberating all at the same time. What do you do with this information, that the only thing that I have control over are the decisions that I make?

Stop trying to control things that you have no control over. Amazing to me how much energy people waste trying to control things that they maybe have influence over, but in many cases should just accept. I’ll also say that when it comes to things that you have zero influence over, I wouldn’t spend much time talking or complaining about them. It’s simply a drain on your energy. Are you catching yourself trying to control things that you really should just accept? Notice that, and I would change your mind on that.

When you realize that the only thing you have control over is your decisions, take responsibility for that decision-making process. I’m not saying to blame yourself when things turn out poorly. I am saying it takes responsibility for the decision that you make. That’s when you start controlling the controllables and seeing the results that you really want to see.

I don’t play a whole lot of poker, but one thing that I have heard is that winning at cards, specifically poker, has a small amount to do with the cards that you are dealt, and it has a huge amount to do with how you make decisions and play the cards that you’re dealt. Same thing goes for your life. Life truly is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how you react.

I hope that you have enjoyed learning about controlling the controllables.

Be Free!

Roger Seip

Author's Bio: 

This article is available for reprint as long as the following bio is included intact.

Roger is co-owner of Freedom Personal Development deliverfreedom.com He teaches workshops around the country on memory training, goal setting, attitude management and time management.

To read more articles by Roger, visit deliverfreedom.com/blog/author/roger-seip/

Contact: Roger@deliverfreedom.com 888-233-0407