#13 Not A Control Freak

Trust issues and impulses

User avatar

Nic Peterson

Control freaks.

You know who I'm talking about. The self-proclaimed, "data-driven" "detail-oriented", "perfectionists", and "control freaks"

As with any public-facing blog, newsletter, book, etc, I trust the reader has the capacity to extract value while recognizing that the author is aware there are both exceptions and extremes. I am simply sharing my observation that may very well be an overgeneralization. My goal is to make you use your noodle, not to win an argument.

If you're one of those people that need to be right, win arguments, sound smart, and make sense of things quickly I recommend that you consider letting some loops stay open.

Observations

The Data-Driven.

It appears to me that self-proclaimed data-driven people aren't data-driven as much as they are emotional decision-makers, quick to point at the data to justify their impulsive decision-making.

Or perhaps they have forgotten that things move.

To the self-proclaimed data-driven person I would say:
You are not data-driven. You are emotional. If you were data-driven you wouldn't make so many impulsive decisions.

The Detail Freak And Perfectionism

Most detail freaks I've met are actually living in a state of fear and/or extreme functional fixedness. We've all heard "done is better than perfect", and "progress over perfection" and we all understand that perfection does not exist.

The self-proclaimed perfectionist has often just created an excuse to get nothing done and make no progress.

"I'm sorry I didn't accomplish anything in the last 5 years, I'm just such a perfectionist."

Details are important and the need to be the "perfect" is fine, but the inability to prioritize them to get what you want is low intelligence (no matter how smart you are).

I'm sure you're picking up on the pattern by now. Rarely is the self-proclaimed data-driven individual being driven by data. Rarely does the perfectionist have a perfect life.

To the self-proclaimed detail freak or perfectionist, I would say:
If you are a perfectionist you have a perfect life. If you do not have a perfect life, you are not a perfectionist, there is something else going on that you have mislabeled.

The Control Freak:

And what do you think I would say to the self-proclaimed control freak?
If you were a control freak, you would have a handle on (control of) all of the areas of your life.

Interestingly, every "control freak" I've ever met has control over very little, what they do have is trust issues. They aren't freaks about having control, they just don't trust anyone else enough to delegate responsibility.

Why does this matter?

Brain sludge. That's why.

When we mislabel ourselves and others, especially when that label becomes an excuse for the way we operate, we handicap ourselves from developing the skills to improve our life.

I don't tell the data-driven person they are impulsive to start an argument, but instead for them to moderate their frequency of exposure to data.

Or the detail-oriented perfectionist they are missing the forest for the trees (sometimes the branches) to spin them out, but instead to get them unstuck.

And I don't tell a control freak they have trust issues as a personal jab, but to help them properly categorize the issue and work on resolving it.

"Well, I'm just such a control freak" is not only a lie to self and others, but it also has no utility. "I have a hard time trusting others with certain tasks or responsibilities" is something that can be incrementally improved.

You know, progress over perfection.

Recap:

You are not data-driven. You are impulsive and blame the data.

You are not a detail freak or a perfectionist unless your life is perfect down to the detail. (and since your monkey mind believes things are either perfect or they are not, you probably don't have processes to make progress, which keeps you even further from perfection)

You are not a control freak. You have trust issues.

Enough good news for today. =)

Nic