Are You A Control Freak?
By Althea DeBrule
Tuesday, 14th February 2006
One of the most frightening things a person can experience in life is to be out of control.  It is part of our nature to take charge, direct and have power over things, situations and people. 

It is perfectly normal to want to be in control of your life. But when that control extends to imposing your will upon and dominating everyone else around you as well, then you are out of control!

Some of us have a higher need to control than others.  Unfortunately, when this need becomes excessive, we turn into control freaks…you know…those people who insist on having their way and being in charge of every situation. 

Control freaks insist on running the show and calling all the shots.  They are skilled at manipulation and intimidation, and work extremely hard to keep everything around them in check.

What about you?  Are you a control freak?  Consider these five descriptors:

  • Wise in your own eyes.  You believe that your wisdom and advice is far better than that of everyone else you meet, and you are always prepared to dispense it freely.
  • Only your input is valid. You enjoy expressing your opinion in conversations and meetings, but hate it when other people follow suit.  You discourage the input and feedback of others, and feel threatened by it.
  • An obsession with everything you do.  You constantly evaluate, analyze, review and re-check everything you do to the point of paralysis. 
  • Perfectionism.  If you want things done right, then do it yourself, is your motto. You are convinced no one else can do things properly when left alone and according to your extremely high standards.
  • Stressed-out.  You don't eat or sleep very well because of anxiety and worry that things may go wrong.  Instead of using your imagination to come up with creative solutions to problems, you spend more time daydreaming about the worst that could happen. How did you do?  If you identify with every one of these descriptors, then it is most likely obvious to everyone (and now also to you) that you are a control freak.   If you only matched with a few then, there is hope for you yet. 
Overcoming Control Freak Tendencies

  • Engage in personal discovery.  Identify what is at the heart of your need to always be in control of everything.  Spend some time reflecting on the circumstances that have contributed to your high control need; then develop several actions you can take to overcome these control freak tendencies, and make sure you implement them.
  • Learn the art of flexibility and self-control.  You don't have to know or do everything!  Practice give-and-take.  If you give others a chance to contribute and share their opinions, then you will receive (take) untold benefits resulting from the diversity of thought, ideas and creativity.
  • Balance your priorities.  It is impossible for two or more things to have number one priority status.  Face the fact that your boss and co-workers each have their own set of priorities.  Stop imposing your list on them.  Instead, collaborate and develop a mutually agreeable list that can be tackled in the shortest time possible with high standards of excellence. There are times when each one of us is a little controlling.  We want to do an excellent job or complete a project on time and under budget.  However, if you are not careful, a tendency to over-control things will stifle, neutralize and keep you from succeeding.
To avoid this catastrophe...today, take a personal inventory of your control tendencies and ask someone you trust to help you re-program your behavior for success.

Althea DeBrule, entrepreneur and seasoned human resources executive, has focused for more than 30 years on helping people achieve their career goals. Creator of The Extreme-Career-Makeover™and a founding partner of RADSGroup Organizational Consultants, she is recognized for her bottom line and practical application of career development and management strategies in a way that penetrates hearts and compels action. She speaks and teaches with inspired talent, humor and contagious zeal at management conferences and leadership retreats nationwide, and has been featured in CFO Magazine, Strategy@Work, Human Resource Executive Magazine. Althea is the author of Bosses & Orchards, a compelling and candid book about how to make your work relationship with your boss succeed. To discover how you can take your career to a new level, visit http://www.extreme-career-makeover.com
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