The Importance of Control

There was an interesting item on Radio 4’s “All in the Mind” programme last week. It concerned a recent study by Dr Tim Rees from Exeter University who has been looking at the effect of different types of feedback on the performance of sportsmen and women.
His team found that by putting emphasis on the change being within your control there was a significant increase in performance.   If instead of saying “I lost today because I’m just no good” you say “I lost today because I used the wrong strategy” you give yourself more control and a greater chance of making improvements.  They tested this out by giving feedback to someone playing darts blindfolded – don’t try that at home!
Those results are useful not just for improving sports performance but for performance in all aspects of our lives.  You will feel less stressed and perform better if you focus on things you do have choice and control over.  If you are in a challenging situation it can feel like you don’t have any choices but there may be more options than you think at first.  You have a choice about how you feel, how you respond and how you react.
You might remember the “Serenity Prayer”
I wish to have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
So, to improve your performance at home, at work and in sport, focus your time and energy on the things you do have control over and don’t worry about the things you don’t have control over.