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The Only Thing You Can Control

Jason Connell -- Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. -- Dalai Lama • Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others. -- Plato • I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts. -- John Locke

All I can possibly control are my actions.

I want to be able to control other people. I want to be able to control the weather, the outcome of elections, the numbers drawn in the lottery later tonight, and the whims of my pet bird who bites me too much. I want to be able to control economies so that we have more equality and food distribution so we have less hunger. The list goes on but it all boils down to this: I want to control nearly all things ranging from the trivial to the profound.

Despite my desire, I can only control one thing: my actions. Nothing more. Nothing less. Same goes for you. As humans, all we can truly control are our actions.

So where does this leave us?

Wildly, widely, powerful.

But here is the problem: most of us don’t truly control our actions. Instead we relinquish that control to the natural flow of modernity -– we react to stuff as it comes instead of thinking about what we actually want to do about it. For example, most of us wish we got more sleep so we felt wide awake during the day, but we settle for the persistent haze that comes from a lack of sleep.

Most of us believe that no human should ever be forced to sleep on the street or die of hunger, but we settle for ensuring that none of the people close to us are homeless and quietly wish the best for everyone else. The difference between where you are right now and where you want to be as a leader (or an individual) is your actions. Your actions are all you control, but that’s enough. To change your life, or change the world you must control and change your actions.

Do you want to feel more rested? Go to bed an hour earlier tonight. No excuses.

Do you want to reduce the number of homeless people? Get involved with a local shelter.

Do you want to be happier? Study and implement positive psychology.

Are you concerned about the quality of life in the third world? Find a great organization and volunteer with them.

The world that we live in is a beautiful world but it needs serious help. There is too much suffering on the individual level and there is too much suffering on the societal level. Most of us will always merely react to circumstance without realizing that we can control what we do and in that way, change the circumstance.

As a leader and as an individual, you control your action. To build a better life for yourself and to build a better world for others, all you have to do is control your action in the direction you want the world to move in. That’s all you can control, but that’s also enough to make a big difference.

Jason Connell is an international speaker and the Executive Director of Ignited Leadership where he helps create world changing leaders. If you like this article, consider following Ignited Leadership on Twitter- @Ignitedleaders (!/ignitedleaders) or liking them on facebook ( You may also sign up for his monthly newsletter on leadership (

© 2012 Jason Connell

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