Mark Blasini


Control - an operational definition


Strategic living is about gaining greater control over your life - your time, your effort, your resources. It's about managing the forces of life that prevent you from feeling in control, from feeling at peace.

In order to get there, however, we need a definition of control that allows us to understand what we're shooting for - to understand whether we have it or not.

As such, there are two aspects of control. The first aspect of control is desirable outcomes. In particular, control refers to the ability to produce or influence, directly or indirectly, desirable outcomes.

Let's take an example: an air conditioner. We have control over an air conditionerifwe can change its settings to generate cold air (desirable outcome). If we cannot change the settings, then we do not have control.

The second aspect of control is undesirable outcomes. Specifically, control also refers to the ability to prevent, directly or indirectly, undesirable outcomes.

Going back to the air conditioner, depending on its settings, we can either turn off the air when it gets too cold or put a condition that, if the room reaches a certain temperature, the AC will stop pushing out cool air.

These two aspects - the ability to produce desirable outcomes and the ability to prevent undesirable outcomes - define what I would consider as "having control."

Of course, no one can ever have complete control over anything. But that's not the goal of strategic living. The goal is to havegreatercontrol.

The more control you have, the more options you have (e.g. the more settings in the AC). The more options you have, the more possibilities for producing desirable outcomes and/or stopping undesirable outcomes.

In this sense, the effective life strategist asks himself a set of critical questions for any problem he encounters:

  1. What desirable outcomes can I generate in this situation?
  2. What undesirable outcomes can I stop or prevent in this situation?
  3. How can I increase my ability to do both?

It's in repeatedly asking these questions, maximizing control, that he really starts to get anywhere.