What can we control? Five areas leaders should focus on

This article originally appeared on bizjournals.com/Charlotte

The last two years have done a nice job of causing us to stop, reflect, and reset on a number of fronts. It also reaffirmed that we have little control over anything – especially when it comes to the big picture. That thought might leave you feeling down or, on the contrary, cause you to put energy into the areas of your life that can ultimately make a difference. 

Let’s focus on the latter. What can we control? Here are a few areas that leaders should focus on.


This one is loaded. You can control your behavior or at least have some significant say on how you receive, process, and react to a given situation. Do you listen or are you quick to speak or act? Do you overreact before getting all the facts?

You must be disciplined and somewhat calculated depending on the situation. You have the power to react in a way that builds someone up or tears them down. Your reaction becomes an example for those around you. Don’t allow your behavior to be a detriment. 


This might be even more contagious than behavior. You can argue that the two go hand-in-hand and that attitude is behavior’s key companion. One of Spiracle Media’s core values is “Choose to be Positive.” My team and I have realized how vital this is when it comes to a collaborative and highly functioning team. 

No one wants to be around someone who consistently subscribes to the glass-is-half-empty philosophy. Positivity is a choice and it has a dramatic effect on everyone around you. It can bring down a meeting or an entire office – especially if it’s associated with the loudest voice in the room. 

Work Ethic 

Work ethic includes a lot more than just working hard. Sure, that’s a part of it. The rest of the work ethic portfolio is made up of prioritization, time management, focus, reliability, and delegation to name a few. Are you a well-rounded leader? There are plenty of individuals who work hard, yet yield little impact. 

Are you showing up prepared? Are you continuing to press into learning? Self-accountability and awareness are driving forces to ensure your work ethic produces results that matter. 


Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me. That sounded nice as an elementary school student, but in my opinion, is far from being an accurate statement. Words do hurt and they do matter. What type of language are you throwing out there? Are you being respectful or demeaning?

Are you aware of the time and place where your words are being absorbed? This one goes back to discipline. We are all emotional beings who tend to respond with quick words when faced with any sort of adversarial situation. Do your best to stop and contemplate before responding, even if only for a few seconds. 


Yes, you do have the ability to make healthy choices a priority. You are nothing without your health. You might be able to neglect your overall well-being for a while, but at some point, it’s guaranteed to catch up with you. There are certainly times when we get dealt a bad hand in regards to our health, but what we put in our body and how we treat it is a choice. 

As I’ve gotten older, one of my biggest priorities has become the quest to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. This calls for me to turn off the TV at half-time of a big game – or better yet, don’t turn it on in the first place. Likewise, read one chapter instead of two. We all need rest, a nourishing diet and exercise to attack each day feeling our best. 

In closing 

We only have so many days available and such a small amount of time to make an impact. Each day is a gift that can either be taken advantage of or wasted. It’s up to you to decide which outcome you prefer. To me, the choice is easy. Control what you can control in the areas where your energy and focus make a difference.



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