Control What You Can,Let Go What You Can’t

Quiz for Ourselves

Q: What would you like to control?

A: People’s behavior, commitment, motivation, and outcomes.

Q: What can you control?

A: Structure.

Q: Anything else?

A: Our own behavior.

Q: What have you let go of?

A: Controlling others’ behavior, commitment, motivation, and outcomes.

Q: Why?

A: We can’t do it, and we get better results by not trying.


It was the late Eric Trist, a founder of London’s Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, who went down into a South Yorkshire coal mine in the late 1940s and came up “a changed man.” He had seen a work system until then considered implausible. The miners and management had collaborated to create multiskilled ...

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