As a leader, in both my work life and personal life, the one lesson I have had to learn over and over again (mainly because it was a hard-won lesson), is freedom comes from owning and understanding that you cannot control everything or anyone for that matter. When I relinquish control and utilize flexibility, pivoting when a situation calls for it, my mind is clearer, and I can lead more effectively.

In a previous post, I wrote about my desire and need to be in control of everything. Years of hurt feelings, frustrations and exhaustion, overthinking and attempting to make things perfect have led me to start asking, “Is this something I can control?”

If the answer is “No,” then I resign myself to go with the flow.

Leading Through Uncontrollable Circumstances

Am I over-sharing my insights or do I allow space for other viewpoints?


Currently, in addition to my full-time job, I, along with my mom, have stepped into the role of caregiver for my ailing father. My care for him has affected my perspective on leadership in all areas of my life. Does my advice or suggestion strip someone of their dignity? Am I really flexible, or only when things shift my way? Am I over-sharing my insights or do I allow space for other viewpoints?

When caring for someone who isn’t well, lessons learned are actually tangible. You can see, “Oh, that didn’t work” or “Let’s try something different.”

This attitude is helpful in my work environment as well. Leading is not just delegating and coming up with all the solutions or suggestions. It sometimes means spearheading collaborative thinking. Pushing the conversation forward and moving processes along. When you open up for outside points of view, you have to embrace new directions.

These days I embrace uncontrollable circumstances; at least when I know there is nothing or not much I can do. How I handle those situations, is me at my very core. And that’s who I want to embrace, not myself as a leader, as much as my most authentic self.

Photo by Raul Varzar on Unsplash


Sometimes circumstances in our real lives are better leadership training than any professional development could ever be. Maya James shares her thoughts on leading through uncontrollable circumstances.