Change your mindset: Focus on what you can control

Is it just me or have the past couple of years been a bit different? A little uncertain, a tad unpredictable with a dash of helplessness?

The pandemic flipped our routines upside down. Not being able to predict the near future and operating in total darkness has taken its toll on many individuals, organizations, and countries. As humans, we are creatures of habit who like to be in control and in charge of our lives and when we are not, it can be overwhelming and frustrating.

You may ask, why are you writing about this now; two and half years after pandemic? Mainly because of the events unfolding in my (first) home country of Iran, #Mahsa_Amini (which I could write a book on this alone! Better yet you should read Persepolis if you haven’t yet!).

While I was trying to digest what was happening in Iran and figuring out how I could be helpful, I hit a wall. I was sitting in the comfort of my home in Toronto over 6000 miles away, watching innocent civilians, friends, and families getting shot at and killed by their own government. This was all happening while they were protesting peacefully. I can’t recall a time when I felt this helpless and useless. The distance between us made me feel that I couldn’t do anything to help. I wanted to be able to change so much but there was little to nothing in my control. This crushed me.

I ended up taking some time off work. I dug deep, spoke to friends and family, went on long bike rides, and meditated until it hit me: I need to control what I can control and focus all my efforts on it. I realized that what I could control was educating the people around me about what was happening in Iran. I could encourage the Canadian government to add the IRGC to the terrorist organization list. I could provide financial support to those in need in Iran.

Interestingly enough, my approach to #Mahsa_Amini paralleled what I have been doing for so long while training individuals in the recruitment industry. “Focus on what you can control” shifted my approach and thoughts on how I could be helpful. Instead of feeling helpless, I focused on what I could control and did my absolute best.

As recruitment professionals, we are between candidates and clients, doing our best to mobilize information while providing exceptional service. Much of the process and outcomes are not in our direct control. So if we have so little control, what do we have control over? What should we be focusing on?

  1. Your Attitude: Are you walking around with a smile and a positive attitude? (Big thanks to Kevin Dee, who ingrained this in me)
  2. Your Effort: Are you giving it all you got? At work, at home and in society?
  3. Your Mental Health: Are you taking care of your operating system? Are you rebooting, restarting, and refreshing?
  4. Your Physical Health: Are you eating, exercising and sleeping properly?
  5. Your Quest for Knowledge and Continuous Improvement: Are you learning every day? Are you growing every day? #Kaizen

Pondering over past events and stressing over things that are not in your control can leave you feeling defeated and frustrated. This can get in the way of growth and prevent you from being proactive and investing for the future.

Next time you hit a rough patch, whether professionally or personally, take a deep breath and identify what is in your control. Focus on these items rather than getting caught up in what you can’t change.

Director of Corporate Development

Sam Rahbar

Sam is a seasoned training professional at Jarvis Consulting Group. He is passionate about coaching and talent development as well as emerging technologies.


Seanei Gibbons - jarvis-logo-red-highres

Jarvis is a leading IT consulting firm headquartered in Canada that provides total talent solutions with ongoing partnerships across North America’s top financial institutions, cutting-edge startups, and major technology companies.

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