Mark Blasini


Focusing on the in-between space


In Stoic philosophy, there is a concept called the dichotomy of control. The basic idea is this. In life, we have two kinds of things we can focus our attention on:

  1. The things we can control - these encompass our thoughts, our emotional reactions, our behaviors. (For the Stoics, this is where we should spent most, if not all, of our focus.)
  2. The things we can't control - these include the actions of other people, environmental factors (e.g. a tornado or storm), and external events (e.g. the stock market, the pandemic).

There is, however, a third area. An in-between space of things we can somewhat control, somewhat influence, if only a little.

While I agree with the Stoics that we should definitely maximize focus on the things we do have control over, the truth is, the game of life is played in the area where we hold some influence, some control.

It is in this area that we are actually frustrated, that we actually learn, that we grow and develop. It is here that we learn how to deal with the world. It's also here that we develop a place in the world. People are given the ability to see you, notice you, understand you, and interact with you. This makes you something real to them.

It's important to always remind yourself that in real life, growth always occurs in that in-between space where you have neither complete control nor complete lack of control.

Growth is not simply improving, getting better, but accepting yourself and the world, and understanding that no situation ever stays the same. This is where the effective life strategist focuses his or her attention.