Learning to Accept What You Can’t Control

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Between the recent election, COVID, social unrest, and the seemingly endless amounts of turmoil this year have brought, a lot of us feel like we have little to no control over anything. 

While that’s not true because we do have a voice and the power to make a change. Sometimes we have to learn to live with not being able to control everything.

When you learn to accept that you can’t control everything, you begin to have an easier time focusing on the things you can control. Using your voice, for instance. You can choose to protest, you can choose to vote, you can choose to write politicians, protest. Or run for office yourself. 

But one thing you can’t do is change people’s minds. I mean, sometimes you can, but it’s very uncommon and typically very difficult. 

I used to spend so much time on social media arguing with people who didn’t see things the way I did. It still happens occasionally, but I’m learning to accept that I have no control over how they see the world. I’m even trying to see it from their perspective as much as I can. When you can understand somebody else’s views and motivations, you can have more meaningful debates with them. And who knows, maybe mindsets can shift a bit.

To be honest, you can’t control the majority of things around you. The weather, the economy, other cars on the road, etcetera etcetera. You can take small steps to help things improve, of course. Reuse and recycle to help the environment. Spend and save wisely. Put on your damn blinker when you’re going to turn. Things like that. But you still can’t control what happens in the grand scheme of things.

That’s why acceptance is so important. 

Most of us know this, even if practicing it is difficult. But for some reason, when you’re in sales, that acceptance of things you can’t control seems to go out the window.

As salespeople, we don’t have mind control powers. It would be creepy and gross if we did, even if it would make selling a lot easier. 

The reason I talk so much about creating KPIs, building a process, and documenting it in your CRM is because those are the ONLY things you can control. You can’t control whether or not they pick up the phone or meet with you. You can’t control people’s decision-making process or make them answer your questions. And you certainly can’t control their mind to say yes.

That’s a hard pill to swallow for salespeople, even if, rationally, they do know it.

You can make a certain number of calls a day. Ask the right questions. You can attempt to build trust and rapport. And you can set expectations that will hopefully lead to hearing a definite decision. 

To make matters worse, most companies and managers have just as much trouble understanding this acceptance of what you can’t control as salespeople do. Too many of them still think that because you’re not getting as many yesses as they would like that you’re not doing your job well enough.

I’d love it if I could single-handedly change that, but I can’t control how people run their business. All I can do is write blogs educating them on a better way and consult salespeople and sales managers on building processes that lead to higher sales. Without the use of mind control.

Acceptance, in any context, is difficult. A lot of it comes down to loss of some sort. Loss of a loved one, loss of an election, loss of control, or loss of a sale. But learning to accept these things helps you to grow and move on. 

When you can accept that you won’t win every deal and that you are going to be told ‘no,’ you can take those moments for what they are. They might be a lesson in something you missed or did wrong, or it might be a situation of something outside of your control. Every opportunity you have to accept those will make you a better salesperson.