Controlling the uncontrollable

Sounds like a contradiction right out of the gate, doesn’t it?  By definition, uncontrollable circumstances cannot be controlled.  For those of us who like to be in charge and know what to expect, it can be pretty frustrating when surprises come along.  You can choose to deny or fight the new reality, or you can overcome by controlling how you react to it.

I’ve met a few special people in my life who have overcome tremendous adversity and set a good example for mastering the uncontrollable.  First there was W Mitchell, a survivor of multiple accidents that left him scarred and paralyzed.  Yet he has pushed forward to accomplish great things, and now travels the world as a speaker sharing his message of resilience, “It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it.”

Then there was Kyle Bryant who I shared a stage with at a recent Toastmasters speech contest.  He is taking control of his circumstances by riding his recumbent tricycle across the country to raise money for a cure for Friedrich’s Ataxia.  His speech touched many hearts that night with the message, “It’s all about how you react to adversity that matters.”

And now the person who hits closest to home… in fact we shared a home for the first 17 years of my life.  My brother Jeff is fighting cancer.  He has shared with me several times about the hardest part being the uncertainty, not the sickness, of chemotherapy. 

Yet I see him bravely taking on each step, actively learning what he needs to learn and maintaining his positive mental attitude to give his immune system as much strength as possible.  With each step, he is neutralizing or “mastering” the new reality of what’s coming against him.  It is truly something to be admired.  I’m not sure how I would do under the same uncontrollable circumstances.

I’ve tried NOT to let myself go down the emotional road of “what if treatment doesn’t work,” and instead focused my efforts on running long country roads to raise money for a cure.  I’ve already pushed myself beyond milestones I thought were unreachable for me, and I’ve discovered that there is a lot more under my control than I thought.  Maybe this is the lesson I’m supposed to learn.

Are you getting frustrated by surprises that weren’t part of your life plan?  Maybe simultaneous scenarios that make it seem like life is spinning out of control?  I encourage you to consider these heroes I have met… like W Mitchell, like Kyle Bryant, like Jeff Goad… and ask yourself  “Does positive thinking create action, or does action create positive thinking?” 

Maybe thinking is not enough.  Maybe hoping is not enough.  Maybe control comes from taking action, and has been within your power all along.


If you want to take action to extend patient’s lives and find a cure for Multiple Myeloma, click here.  Thank you!

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7 Comments on “Controlling the uncontrollable”

  1. Joe Franklin Says:

    David, I have no doubt that positive action creates positive reactions. What holds people back from taking positive action, I think, is the fear of failure. Like you, I am raising children who are now teenagers. They have such a strong fear of being embarassed or of failure that they often relegate themselves to the sidelines (typically laughing at others who do embarassing things!) I am concerned that they learn this behavior in this stage of their lives and develop a sort of paralysis of action. A good example was this weekend as I was setting up the old Halloween decorations. We do it BIG at our house including jumping out of coffins to scare the kids. My 18 year old daughter reluctantly agreed to help me. Every scary item I unpacked and hung up was met with a “this is stupid” kind of shrug and rolling of the eyes. I went out as I usually do and bought some new items. These were met with a “Daaaaaaaad, this is sooooo embarassing. My friends are going to think I am a dork.” Now this is a trivial example but sort of shows my point. I know on Halloween night the younger neigborhood kids enjoy getting the “tricks.” So my “positive” action brings enjoyment to people. My daughter doesn’t see that joy and only senses her potential embarassment. Would she ever put up the decorations on her own?

    One saying I wrote down a long time is “failures are the stepping stones to success.” Yes, take a positive step and you may fail but you gain something from each failure that can lead to success.

    Keep up the running! (and sharing your thoughts)

    • davidgoad Says:

      I can relate Joe!
      But even if your kids cringe when you do dorky family stuff or tell them you love them, do it anyway 🙂

  2. Mike Johns Says:

    Hi Dave,

    Upur words are inspiring. I was diagnosed last week with skin cancer. A freckle on my shoulder for a lifetime, turned into a mole, and recently went “haywire” crazy. Last Tuesday, my doctor removed it for analysis. The Pathology group said it was “Invasive Melanoma, Clark Level 4”. Now, a week later – I’m being urged into a full surgery situation to remove a tumor from my shoulder and check me for other locations. Ummm, wait a minute… I’m fine, I don’t feel bad… in fact, I’m training for a major motorcycle race on Catalina Island and a chance to put my name in the record books… I’m in GREAT SHAPE (for 50!) Out of nowhere, life takes a turn. I have seen to many friends and people I admire, live happy and healthy lives – to have fate intervene in the most unexpected time. So, I’ve always lived day to day, enjoying everything about everything, and not worrying about “what might happen”. I’m good with dealing with this asap, and leave the rest to God and the doctors… and that works for me. But, I wanted you to know, I have enjoyed and been inspired often by your thoughts and actions…thank you, brother.

    • davidgoad Says:

      Mike, sorry to hear about your surprise, but happy to hear about your attitude. You always took things on with a smile when I worked with you way back when.

      Something I left out of my story above, the importance of family and a widening circle of friends to get through challenging times. Thanks for being one of mine.

  3. Mike, sorry about your surprise… but your attitude is what more people need!

    Mr. Goad, you’ve met W Mitchell? How is he? He’s got a very inspiring story!

    • davidgoad Says:

      Yes I hired Mitchell to speak for my company back in the early 90s and got to introduce him on stage. Very inspirational person.

  4. Bill Colenso Says:

    Hi David, I love your writing, it is great and uplifting.

    I wanted to comment on what Joe Franklin wrote about his daughter and the Halloween decorations. Here is a funny thing about life that I have learned. Many times in life we rush through it. Rushing through life on our way to bigger and better. Goals that need to be accomplished, errands that need to get done. And then we have something called hindsight. As we age, and we have the benefit of experiences, we look back over our lives fondly at what we didn’t understand completely at the time. I am willing to bet that twenty years from now, Joe’s daughter will look back fondly on dad’s going overboard on Halloween. I encourage all people to truly enjoy each and every moment of their lives, because what they don’t understand now is that in ten, twenty and thirty years, they will look back and think, wow those were the greatest times in my life….

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