RONNAVARRE.COM BLOG

Command vs Control

You may have noticed I use the term "command" instead of control. What is the difference? Control is based on fear, the fear of not being in control or the fear of being out of control. Command is based on conscious response, command is the intention to take charge and lead the action in a direction of your choosing. I like the analogy of the captain of a ship. The captain is in command of the ship, he/she directs the action of the crew in a fashion that supports the efficient operation of the whole. A good captain is a good leader who inspires the crew to work like dogs and to take pride in working like a dog. That is true power. How does the captain do this? By making clear specific choices and committing to those choices even in the face of uncertainty. That my friends is very different from control. If the captain is obsessed with controlling the crew at all costs, the crew will lose faith and mutiny. 

Control for controls sake is an obsession that leads to disaster for the simple reason that no one can truly control anything without creating some imbalance. Control is stasis,
it is an attempt to stop some-thing from happening or changing. Lets take the example of an actor on the stage, (something I have personal experience with). If an actor tries to control an audience they will reject him. No one likes to be manipulated. An audience does however enjoy being lead on a journey by someone who is making clear specific choices and committing to those choices with passion. We will follow a good actor down the rabbit hole if he/she is not trying to MAKE us go there, even if it makes us uncomfortable. As I often tell my theater students, "you do not go on stage to NOT do something, you go on stage to DO something" and that thing is to take command of the space and lead the attention of the audience in the direction you choose.

So how does this apply to self? First you must discern the difference between the two and recognize when you are attempting to control. How do you know when you are in control mode? By the level of fear you feel. If you are feeling fear and anxiety about the thing you are trying to control, you are in control mode. The hallmark of command is clarity and courage. If I am clear about what I need to do and commit to that course of action I feel courage. This level of commitment is not about being "right" or "wrong" it is about making a clear choice and following through with it. At some point in your life you must take charge if you are to succeed. Taking charge and taking command are both leading with strength and courage even when you're not sure of the outcome.

Making a clear choice
I have been working with a cancer patient for over two years now, a man in his eighties who has been fighting the good fight for almost thirty years. When I first met Herman he was very, very weak and on the verge of transitioning. He had the look of someone who knew how close to the edge he was. He asked me if I thought he could heal from his latest surgery, I asked him what his intention was. He looked puzzled, "What do you mean my intention?" Do you want to heal? His answer was “of course I do!” My next question was why? His reply was " so I can walk on the beach with my wife.” Very clear and specific. "The first thing you need to do is learn how to breathe because breath is energy and you need lots of energy to heal" and so we began. One deep breath at a time, one step closer to vitality. I have seen Herman through three rounds of radiation, seven rounds of chemotherapy and at least three low points where I was not sure if he would survive. And yet each time I thought he was ready to pack it in, he rallied and recovered. It's really quite amazing and nothing less than miraculous, and it all comes down to Herman making the choice to live, the choice to stand up on shaky legs and do his qiqong exercises even when he is overwhelmed with fatigue, the choice to take the next deep breath and extract another liter of energy into his lungs. I have learned so much about the POWER of choice from working with this amazing man.