This has become my mantra over the last few years when dealing with challenging situations in my career as an event producer. It has also become a lesson I try to teach my interns. Life is messy, it is unfair, and it is chaotic, especially when you work in the special event industry. It is the nature of the beast and you have to learn to deal with it or it will deal with you.
Here is how it works… something ridiculous happens or something happens and you have a better idea but no one will listen. You get frustrated, sometimes to the point of where you want to pull your hair out. What do you do? You say to yourself, or out loud to your closest coworkers, “I’m not in charge.” Then you take a breath and make a decision on how you are going to react to the things you can control and how to accept the things you can’t control. Making a decision about how you are going to react puts you back in the driver seat of your life and gives you control.
You won’t always agree with the people calling the shots, but the only thing you can do is give up or accept that you aren’t in charge and move on. You also need to realize that even when you are “in charge” there are still outside factors out of your control and you need to be able to gracefully handle these challenges. Sometimes when I’m in a situation like this where I am in charge, I’ll crack a joke about “what do I know, I’m not in charge.” Then I give them a big smile so they know I’m teasing them and they realize I am in charge and they better do what I ask. The statement is helpful in both situations where you are in charge and where you are not in charge.
It might sound goofy but it really works. You can even change the tone, and sometimes add the appropriate amount of sarcasm, in your voice to reflect each unique situation. This all started out as a joke between me and my coworker but it has since grown to become a great way to deal with challenging situations and change. By deciding how you are going to react to the situation you gain a little control over the situation so it doesn’t control you.
I use this statement a lot and it usually gets some laughs from those around me or at a minimum it breaks up the tension. It is self-deprecating in a way, and humbling at the same time, so it makes it easier to see the humor in most situations so you don’t get so angry.
Next time you are in a difficult situation that is out of your control just tell yourself “I’m not in charge” and see if it makes you feel better.
How Do I Lead When I’m Not in Charge?