God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Annika Sorenstam, considered one of the all-time great golfers, achieved to the highest level of her profession because she only focused on the controllables. Annika has stated that she disregarded what was beyond her control and that once the ball left her clubface, she ceased to worry about it. She could not control whether the ball would take a bad bounce or good one, so she removed that concern from her mind. And if she did get a bad break like her ball landing in a hole in the fairway, Annika did not let it bother her because she had no control over that matter.
Every day on the golf course or at work there are situations that can frustrate you or create overwhelming pressure. The key to premium mental toughness is to know what to focus upon and what to let go. Allow the principle of the Serenity Prayer to help you find peace of mind at work and in your life. This involves the following 4-step process:
Step 1. List your top ten worries about work. This can include factors such as getting a raise, what co-workers think of you, if clients will like you, whether there will be lay-offs, and the economy.
Step 2. Place the worries into two categorical boxes, “Can Control” and “Cannot Control”. Be honest with this separation.
Step 3. With the worries you placed into the “Cannot Control” box, be like Annika and Teresa and find the mental strength to accept those factors in which you have very limited or no control (like the economy or whether a colleague will like you). Worrying about them is a waste of time so let it go. Every time you worry about it, say “Stop–I can’t control that”, and eventually you will retrain your thinking about these uncontrollable factors, and they should diminish.
Step 4. Find the courage to devise one strategy for each of your worries in the “Can Control” box. For instance, you worry about getting a raise. While you cannot control whether your boss will actually give you a raise, you can control facets contributing to that outcome such as taking on extra work and making sure your work exhibits the highest quality. Following a specified strategy will not only help you to achieve your desired goals, it will also give you a greater sense of control over the situation, and reduce your anxiety.
William James, the foremost psychologist at the turn of the twentieth century, remarked that the art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook. When you learn to let go of factors you cannot control and focus on only the controllables, you will become wiser to finding your serenity.
Bio: Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a professor of human performance at APSU. He is the author of the Washington Post bestselling business book, “Full Throttle” Dr. Gregg speaks about mental and emotional toughness to Fortune 500 companies such as Pacific Life, Merrill Lynch, and T Rowe Price. Also, Dr. Gregg coaches business executives to develop greater confidence and creativity. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and visit www.drgreggsteinberg.com.