Issue #17: Control What You Can, Understand What You Can’t

Aug 25, 2022

In a rapidly changing and increasingly complex world, it's more important than ever to focus on what you can control. That means understanding the difference between the knowns and unknowns in your life, and knowing how to manage both.

The knowns are the things that you can control, like your daily routine or how you spend your free time. The unknowns are the things that you are not within our power to control, like the weather or global events. This doesn't mean that we should give up or be passive as relates to unknowns; instead, if we take the time to understand what they are, we can be better prepared to deal with them.

A relatable example of knowns versus known unknowns that we are likely to face frequently in business is that we can plan to make a statement and control when, how (via what medium) and to whom that statement is released. However, we cannot control the reaction or response of the receivers of that statement. In this instance, based on the knowns, we would plan a statement more likely to get the most favorable response. Based on the known unknowns, we would be prepared with objection handlers in anticipation that not all responses will be favorable.

As noted in the above examples, the first step in managing knowns and known unknowns is to identify the things that we can control and the things that we cannot. Once we know what we can and cannot control, we can focus our energy on the things that we can change. This will help us to be more effective in our lives and achieve our goals.

Managing the knowns

There will always be things that are out of our control. But what we can control are the knowns. It's important to focus on what you can control and make an effort to change the things that you're unhappy with. This is especially true when it comes to your career. It's essential to be aware of your limitations and understand that there are some things beyond your control.

There will always be things that are out of your control, but if you focus on the knowns, you can make a significant impact. For example, if you're not happy with your current job, you can look for a new one. If you're not satisfied with your salary, you can negotiate for a raise.

You may not be able to control everything, but by taking control of the knowns, you can put yourself in a much better position to achieve success.

Managing the known unknowns

Our ability to control certain events or actions is finite. The things we can't control are known as "known unknowns." There will always be unknowns in life, but by learning to identify them and accept them, we can reduce the amount of stress and anxiety they cause us.

There are many examples of known unknowns in the world. For instance, no one knows exactly how long it will take for a new product to be fully developed and released to the public. This is because there are so many variables that can affect the timeline, such as the number of people working on the project, the complexity of the project, and outside factors beyond the company’s control.

Another example of a known unknown is when a natural disaster will strike. While we can't predict when an earthquake or hurricane will hit, we can often prepare for them by building structures that can withstand high winds or stocking up on supplies.

In both cases, being aware of the potential for unknowns and taking steps to mitigate their impact can help minimize disruptions and ensure a smoother outcome.

Bear in mind that it's unfair to attempt to anticipate everything. However, focusing on the things that you have direct control over is prudent. It is also important to be mindful of what you can't control. By understanding the difference between the two, the knowns and the known unknowns, you are able to take a well-balanced approach to managing your time, energy and other resources.

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