The controllables

“If you could control whether you win or lose, you would always win!”

Good point.

I had a conversation this week with a friend at the office who used to play competitive tennis.

His coach gave him this helpful advise:

Focus on the “controllables”.

You can’t control whether you win or lose.

But here’s what you can control:

  1. Your attitude
  2. Your effort
  3. Your level of skill


You get to decide how you respond to the challenges you’re faced with.

When things aren’t going your way, you can either lose heart or stay optimistic and look for solutions.

You can blame everything and everyone around you, or you can own your performance.


You get to choose whether to keep fighting, dig deep, or throw in the towel.


You can put in the work to level up your skills… or not.

These are under your control.

So why spend all that emotional energy on things you can’t do anything about?

Your time and mine are better spent focusing on the things we can affect - attitude, effort, and skill level.

So I say “Thanks JJ’s coach!”

This was super helpful for me to hear. The principle applies to much more than sports.

Life is full of things I can’t control.

I'll have much more success and peace of mind if I leave those well enough alone and invest instead in the areas where I know I can make meaningful progress.

Mark Armstrong

Mark Armstrong

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