The Effort is Always Within Your Control But the Results Are Not

Sales Efficiency
Photo by Patryk Grądys on Unsplash

We put a great deal of energy into things we don’t control. A couple of days before the launch of my recent book, I called my agent in a panic because our pre-order numbers were low.

After chatting with her, I realized that there were things I didn’t control:

  • I couldn’t control how many people opened our emails or clicked on the links
  • I couldn’t control how many people decided to buy the book after hearing about it on our podcast

After that, I sat down and made a list of all the things I could control:

  1. Writing articles like this one
  2. Asking friends in my network for help
  3. Promoting my appearances on other podcasts
  4. Writing the book launch emails for our newsletter
  5. Delivering the most valuable experience I could for the students in my creative live class about designing systems that fuel creativity.

For the next 3 days, that’s precisely what I did. People in my network helped me promote the book via social media. Others offered to send emails to their lists. And the students in my creative live class were happy with the content of my course.

Shifting your focus from what you don’t control to what you do decreases your anxiety and increases your productivity

When we’re focused on what we don’t control, we’re paralyzed by thought. When we’re focused on what we do control action fuels us. When we focus on what we control, we act on what the authors of The 4 Disciplines of Execution call lead measures.

Say that you have a goal to increase the number of subscribers to your email list. 4 activities will eventually lead to that.

  • Conversion rates on a landing page
  • Traffic to a Website
  • The popularity of an article
  • The Number of Articles you publish

Out of these, the one that you have complete control over is the number of articles you publish. That’s your lead measure. By acting on the lead measure, you guarantee progress. You might even end up exceeding your goal. If you’re serious about accomplishing your goal, act on the lead measures.

The results are rarely in your control, and the effort is always within your control:

  • You can control how many days you show up to work out if you want to lose weight.
  • You can control how many sales calls you make if you want to earn a certain amount of money
  • You can control how many words you write or how many hours per day you write if you want to write a book

Focusing on what you don’t control is a recipe for misery and disappointment.

You fall just short of your weight loss or income goal. Rather than being proud of the progress you’ve made, you view your entire effort as a failure. You create something your proud to put your signature on and overlook how much you’ve grown or evolved because the results didn’t meet your expectations.

The effort is how you reach an audience of millions by creating for an audience of one.


The Effort is Always Within Your Control But the Results Are Not was originally published in The Mission on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Author: Srinivas Rao