I’m in charge. Well, I am! This was always the voice of my younger self. I’m the oldest sibling – the firstborn – and I was always left in charge of my six siblings. Life has always been like a bull in a china shop for me; demanding my way, pushing others to get things done.

My mother and father both worked, so when I came home from school, it was my responsibility to clean up the house, start or cook dinner, watch my siblings, do my homework, and hope that I had done it well enough to make my parents happy. If they weren’t happy, I would have to pay the consequences. Over time, I began to demand my own way with by siblings. I had no friends because I moved from school to school, so there was often little time for me to build relationships.

As I grew to become an adult, I held on to the belief that I was in charge. It wasn’t until I was a bank employee that I learned how much I was not in charge of any part of my life.

I was working at a bank, and I had taken over the job of two other people without much of a problem. So, one day, I went to my boss and told her that I thought I deserved a raise. She looked at me and said the words that would forever change my life: “You will not be getting a raise, and you need to get used to doing what you are told. You need to earn a living. You’re a single mom with two small children, and you rely on this income.”

I was stunned into silence. I couldn’t even begin to think of what to say after that. I left her office, went home, and thought for a while. I was not in control. How did that happen? Someone else had control over my income, my time, and even my emotions! What was I going to do? How could I live in these very restrictive boundaries? Did I really want to? I left the job, took a program to increase my office and technology skills, and took a job at a small start-up company.

That was the start of changing my entire life. I learned as much as I could about creating new business. During this process, I learned that I’m never really in complete control of my life – there’s always something or someone that has some form of control — but I could control my actions and reactions to those around me.

Today, I have learned that I don’t need to be in control to be successful. All I really need is to influence others to come along with me. They’re the people who help me when I need help and who call on me when they need support. It’s the power of my network and the people whom are just a phone call a way when I need a referral, a contact, or a helping hand. When I gave up trying to control everything, I built a better network and created a better life.

Control is overrated. I’m never in control of more than myself, and for that, I am grateful. It really is all that I can manage, and it keeps my life simple. When you let go of always trying to be in control of others, more of the right people show up in your life.

Where in your life do you need to take a look at control issues? When networking – especially with people from different backgrounds or cultures – it’s important to understand that flexibility is key to your success. 

Practice letting go of control for one day and see what that feels like. Is it scary or freeing? Share with me in the comments.