Bill Cottringer

“One of the biggest sources of frustration comes from trying to control the uncontrollables; on the other hand, great satisfaction comes from gradually learning to manage the controllables better.” ~The author.

Control: To exercise authoritative or dominating influence over; to direct or command.

Manage: To succeed in accomplishing, sometimes despite difficulty or hardship; to exert influence over for the better.

Both controllables and uncontrollables occur in life, work and relationships. Here are the common traps we all fall into in these three areas and some tips to avoiding the traps:


• Mistaking uncontrollable things as controllable ones. This only wastes time and creates needless frustration. Knowing one from the other, is an important discernment early on that frees a lot of productive energy for more success and happiness without the needless stress.
• Allowing things to slip precariously out of balance in the important areas of work, play, rest and relationships. We do this by focusing too much time and effort on one area at the expense of the others, and then ending up with very little enjoyment and satisfaction in any of these important areas and then wondering what is wrong.
• Getting stuck in a deep, dark hole and wishing for a magical elevator ride out, without seeing how we are just digging deeper. Without seeing what is really going on, the hole just keeps getting deeper and darker without even a stepstool in sight to see some light.


• Learn early on that you usually get what you expect, so be real careful as to what you expect, especially when you don’t like it, at least for the next time around. Getting somewhere in life requires managing at least one more percent of optimism in your expectations than realism, with each thought ahead.
• Compete against yourself in improving yourself and managing your talents against the common tempting desire to get something for nothing. Competing against others is a natural drive in life, but managing towards win-win cooperation helps both you and others succeed more than anyone can alone.
• Hang around with people who are just a little better than you and avoid negative, complaining and unhappy people at all costs because they are just too draining. Their only purpose is to show you how not to be.


• Not being honest about what you really know and don’t know and then not taking the time or making the effort to learn what you don’t know and need to, in order to succeed. This delay only contributes to missing out on career opportunities that come and go unnoticed.
• Not seeing the importance of developing your emotional intelligence along with your other important work skills. Unfortunately a strong ego helps you succeed in the beginning, but it later becomes what holds you back in developing the needed emotional intelligence to shed your shackles and climb higher.
• Not being a good team player. Just like sports, the best work victories belong to a team effort. And again, egos can put individual efforts and talents above the team, which only diminishes the overall outcome.


• Be fully present in your job and give it your full attention and effort. That way you get more satisfaction and enjoyment in all the other areas of life, knowing you value your work and sense your contribution to the team.
• Create value to your employer by being able to do something valuable that others can’t. We all have unique and special talents that can weave together and compliment the team’s efforts and bring about better outcomes.
• Be as “likeable” (positive, honest, real, agreeable, humorous, accepting, etc.) as you can at work, especially when you don’t feel like it. Likeability is good conduit for productivity and getting things done, when they seem to not be getting done.


• Trying to control another person’s behavior that causes your negative reactions or trying to control your negative reactions to the other person’s behavior you can’t control. The futility of this is almost humorous if it weren’t for the destructiveness of the relationship it brings about when inevitably molded into contempt.
• Accepting less than what you think you want in a relationship and then thinking you can change the other person into who you think you want him or her to be. We usually get lost somewhere in between, forgetting our original intentions and then wondering why we are still in the relationship.
• Not understanding the difference between your superficial “wants” and deeper “needs” from the other person and then ending up with neither or at least not appreciating what you do have with the other person in the relationship.


• Focus less on differences and more on similarities and work on becoming more compatible with how you approach and deal with differences and incompatibilities. This is probably the single most important effort you can make to have a happy and successful relationship even when the differences are acutely painful.
• Rise up to one of the most difficult challenges in life by learning how to offer to love the other person unconditionally. This is the ultimate test of relinquishing the illusory control your ego has over uncontrollable things like love. This transformational change improves everything.
• Vary your approach to the other person until you get the results you want. Wrong approaches always get wrong results. This is the one change that always gets the right results.

Try to avoid these common traps in life, work and relationships by applying the alternative tips and increase your success and happiness in all these areas.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the peaceful but invigorating mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden), and “If Pictures Could Talk,” coming soon. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or