To Achieve Success – Control What You Can Control

Lately, I’ve been riffing off of Rudyard Kipling’s monumental poem, “If,” both in the context of pushing through tough times, and in the context of it being a roadmap for success. I have used it to explain why, in the grand scheme of things, a speed bump in the road to success doesn’t matter.

Today, I’m going to return to the Serenity Prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I’ve been writing about moving on after the sale of the family cottage.

Yesterday was truly the final day. I rented a truck, made the trip up, loaded up the family antiques and heirlooms that were excluded from the sale, and brought them home. The cost of this was five hours in a very uncomfortable seat and several hours of heavy lifting.  I’ve written about the ergonomics of driving, and let me tell you, there’s a lot more to it than simply adjusting the driver’s seat lumbar support.

The topic of just how badly a rented truck is to drive is a topic for another day, what is the topic of the day is the effect of this experience and my poor back.

Now, you might wonder why a guy, who has written many times on the topic of how much healthier his back is today, than it was 7 years ago, is now talking about the effect of a hard day on his back. I mean, I’ve told you plenty of stories about how this hard day or that, this hard work or that, had no effect on me at all.

Well, today is not the day for that.

You see, today, I’m sore. Not pinched nerve, Robaxacet, heat packs, ice packs, bed rest and pain killers sore, but…sore. The day after all the work, I’m still sore, a good night’s sleep not having been enough to cure what ails me.

And hasn’t that been the topic of so many Thursdays? I did some previously hard thing, which after a good night’s sleep, had no effect on me?

Well, yes, and today is different. I went hard, did some stuff that was posture and spine unhealthy, and now I’m paying for it.


Because I spent too much of the last 8 months focussing on things outside my control, rather than those things within my control.

What’s outside my control? The pandemic and the governments’ response to it. The fool local government’s decision to wreck the neighbourhood park. The sale of my parents’ cottage. The closure of my yoga studio.

What’s within my control? My workout program, my diet, my sleep, my (home) office environment. Above all, my personal back and posture exercise routines.

That is what I let slip. I simply haven’t been doing enough to maintain a healthy spine and good posture.

I’ve known for a few weeks now that I’ve been slipping, and I’ve been working my way back. Good thing, too, because if I hadn’t started getting back into it, yesterday could have ended up being much, MUCH worse.

Okay Andrew, but what does that have to do with success? That’s what you write about on Sundays, isn’t it?

Well, yes, and here it is.

  • Control what you can control.
  • It’s far easier to control what you maintain focus on. If it’s out of your mind, you’re going to give it sporadic attention at best. Without focus, it’s gone.
  • Don’t do too much. The more things vying for your attention, the less time you have for each.
  • Get help. Even if you think you’ve mastered something, you still have more to learn. Every single one of the greatest athletes in their games have a coach.
  • Don’t forget to practice the basics. The greatest players in their games never give up practicing the basics. I read somewhere that one summer, after a successful rookie campaign, an eventual hall of fame player decided his shot wasn’t NHL caliber. Every day that summer he took hundreds of shots to improve it.

I forgot those lessons. I stopped controlling what I control, I lost focus, I didn’t seek help, and I forgot to work on the basics. Because of all that, I’m paying the price.

Luckily for me, the price is low, and I’m already working on making it lower.