How to Live Life on Your Own Terms

Mar 31, 2017Padraig's Insights

Let go of your need for control


Something struck me as I was shaving the other day.

I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed recently. I have an awful lot going on and I’ve been working very hard. It dawned on me that I’ve been trying to control everything.

The truth of the matter is that it simply doesn’t work. We have to let everything go.

In letting everything go we can then take ownership and become accountable and responsible for what’s actually happening.

It’s sort of an interesting paradox. We have to get used to ambiguity. The notion that we’re in control is an illusion.

Being accountable is important, but there’s a huge difference between that and saying we’re in control of what’s happening.

Being accountable is the responsible act of being an adult. It’s doing what you said you would do.

When we think we’re in control of what’s happening it’s a recipe for stress, for overwhelm and ultimately failure through burnout.

I know they seem similar but don’t confuse the two. We can let go of control but still be responsible and accountable.

I’ve had this insight before but I’d forgotten it. It’s time to let go of the illusion of control.


The good, the bad and the ugly


The other day I was helping a small team develop their strategy and at some stage in the conversation the CEO said to the other person, ‘woah, let’s have an honest moment here’.

It reminded me of a quote that’s often been attributed to Dr Tony O’Reilly where he used to say ‘bring me the facts. I want the good, the bad and the ugly. I can deal with the facts’.

In The Complete Leader, Ron Price talks about how leaders are clear thinkers, leaders lead themselves, leaders lead others and leaders are authentic.

It struck me that when you look at those concepts and what I just said about being honest, this thing of facing up to reality is really a defining characteristic of a leader.

Later on after that meeting I was having a coaching session with somebody and I was using coaching questions that I got out of Ron Price’s book ‘The Complete Leader’.

I realised that they are really powerful questions. As it happens we’re launching a programme and we’re struggling with it a bit, so I took the questions into our own operation afterwards.

Here are the questions:

  • What are your perceptions of the current situation?
  • What’s working?
  • What’s not working?
  • What do we want?
  • What are we doing to make this happen?
  • Is what we’re doing getting us what we want?
  • What’s the plan?
  • What have we tried?
  • How has what we tried worked?
  • What else might we try?
  • What don’t we want to do?
  • What are we in denial about and what do we want to avoid?
  • And finally, what are each of us committing to do?


They’re simple coaching questions but I just found it a really good exercise to help us develop clarity of thinking, to lead ourselves and lead others, to be authentic, to deal with the facts and to have an honest moment.

I think they’re great questions that can be used on a personal level, with your clients, in your business and in pretty much everything you’re doing.




I was talking to a long standing client of mine yesterday.

I hadn’t spoken to him for a couple of months and he was telling me that lately he’s been feeling very listless and down in the dumps.

A bit like ‘Sleepless in Seattle’, he was listless in Youghal!

When I asked him what he did to resolve this he told me that he got going because he got going! He got out, he got moving, he got out to his clients and started doing some work.

When he moved into action everything else started falling into place.

Interestingly, sometimes when we feel overwhelmed, what we need to do is to take just one thing and move into action with it.

I noticed that my to-do list wasn’t building me up for success.

So, I whittled it down to four things I’d like to do today, one of which was this video clip.

The very fact of doing them and the satisfaction of accomplishment has given me the confidence to look at my big long to-do list and cut it down.

Be very careful about having big long lists of things to do.

Ask yourself, ‘what are the two or three things I can do today’? Feel the success that comes from accomplishment.

You might find that you do an awful lot more with your day by doing it that way.


You don’t know what you’re missing

I’m always amazed at how much we’re missing out in life and we just don’t realise it.

For years I’ve been partially deaf in my right ear. I decided to try do something about it by purchasing a customised hearing aid that goes right into my ear.

Soon after I left the audiologist’s facility, I realised that something was wrong. All I could hear was tweeting and chirping!

So he tried to fix it and went outside with me. I said that I thought it could be the wind and he told me that the noise was coming from the birds!

It was amazing. It’s been years since I heard birds tweeting.

The reason I’m telling you this story is because it made a very important point to me.

Years ago my chairperson used to tell me to read everything, particularly the things I disagree with. We don’t know what we’re missing.

It’s incredible for me to hear things I hadn’t heard for years. I think the same is true for life in general.

We need to embrace technology, media and diversity of opinion. We need to really get out there and understand.

It’s only when we try out things that are not part of our comfort zone that we get the message and really start to hear what’s going on.

So, embrace what’s different from you because you don’t know what you’re missing.

All men must die

I was sitting outside in the sun this weekend with some of my siblings and my mum, where we were having a deep philosophical discussion about life.

I don’t know if you watched Game of Thrones but there’s a great line in it: ‘All men must die’.
We had a really interesting discussion around what this means.

The conclusion we came to was that the single most important thing is that everybody truly lives.

In ONEFocus we’ve been expounding the concept of identifying your unique abilities.

The first part of our ONEThing model is about identifying the unique place where your passion, talent and career intersect.

It seems that so few people think about these things.

I’ve seen many people wake up at a particular point in time and regret their lives, regret their careers and also simple things that they didn’t do in life, like that round-the-world trip or supporting somebody they love.

Our enduring purpose in our organisation is that we believe every individual should have the opportunity to become all they can be.

Potential differs for everybody, but the single most important thing is identifying what you do that you really enjoy, that comes naturally and that adds incredible value to the world.

Once you know what that is, the trick is to build on your strength.

We don’t believe in dying with a lot of strong weaknesses. We believe in working on the things that you are good at and honing these skills so that you become world class.

You only have a short amount of time on the planet. What will you do with it?

The things that you’re doing right now are all that matter.

If you’re not doing something that you love, your next step is to find something that you do love and then find a way to transition into it.

Final thoughts…

Control is an illusion. To be truly free, we need to let go of our need to control everything around us.

Great leaders face up to reality. I love Ron Price’s list of coaching questions from The Complete Leader. Ask yourself these questions to improve your capacity to think clearly, to lead yourself and others, to be authentic and deal with the facts.

If you’ve been feeling listless lately, write out your to-do list, single out the essential two or three things you can do with your day and take action!

Open your eyes and your mind to different perspectives and sources of information. You don’t know what you’re missing.

Finally, knowing you’re going to die can be a great reminder to really live.

Identify your strengths and build on them so that you can create real value in the world.

Lots to think about this weekend! Until next week.

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Padraig Berry, CEO of TTI Success Insights Ireland will interview Ron Price, global leadership performance speaker and author of The Complete Leader.

Ron Price – Author: The Complete Leader








Find out more about The Complete Leader at our one time, exclusive interview with the Author; Ron Price. He will speak about the future of leadership and be available to answer any questions you have about The Complete Leader programme.

Padraig Berry – CEO: TTI Success Insights


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