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The Person You Dance Around Has Control

Marionettes resemble reality but comically fall short. That’s us when others pull the strings. The person you dance around controls you.

Realities of control:


Governments control us with fear and reward.  Police officers use fines to enforce speed limits. Fear of getting caught keeps us in line. When I’m confident I won’t get caught, I set my own speed limits.

When the government wants you to stop speeding, they punish you for speeding. When the government wants you to use electric vehicles, they reward you. In both cases you suffer when you ignore authority.


Teams that control themselves are rare. The person in control sets direction, establishes rules of engagement, and often makes decisions. You thrive when you conform.


The person you’re afraid to confront controls you. You endure a bullying boss, for example, because you need the money. Control is mostly illusion; response is the exception. (Read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning)

You influence other people’s performance; you don’t control it. When someone under-performs, you control your response. You can’t force them to improve. Understand that no response is a response. All responses have consequences.

7 ways to be a real person instead of a marionette:

  1. Know what you want. Unfocused frustration is destructive.
  2. Avoid anger and bitterness. Prolonged painful emotion like anger and resentment indicates helplessness. Someone else is pulling the strings.
  3. Work to control yourself. If you weren’t afraid, what would you do?
  4. Accept the decisions of others. Many leaders try to change people who refuse to change.
  5. Understand you don’t change anyone. We change ourselves. It’s frustrating to fight reality.
  6. Notice the people you fear offending. They pull the strings.
  7. Have a clear vision for your life.

What does controlling your responses look like today?

Still curious:

24 Ways to Challenge People Without being a Jerk-Hole

Dear Dan: An Employee Yelled at Me

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