State of the Union Takeaway: Knowing What You Can Control

Many of us have faced conflict and lack of control. When thinking about the future, we imagine great things, with roads paved in gold leading to success. However, when we find the roads are rockier than we imagined—with potholes and roadblocks and detours—we can become dejected and frustrated.

At those times, it’s easy for a leader to blame others. It’s easy to stop on the path and say, “everything would have been better if…”

But looking back and pointing fingers doesn’t help anyone move forward.

In a term defined by political gridlock, President Obama took an interesting and informative approach in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. He did what successful people do in times of immobility: he outlined a path forward. And, better still, he focused on the things that he could control.

For job seekers and professionals, Obama’s approach offers a valuable lesson: 

Every grand ambition begins with a few small and achievable steps.

Think of your ambition as a chunk of marble. You can’t turn it into a work of art in a single step. Instead, you have to chip away at it. You have to take on the work in tiny steps, in pieces that you can accomplish. Every chip is progress. Every chip is one step closer to a finger, a hand, an arm, a figure. 

Remember, progress takes time, and it never happens exactly as we imagine. Great achievers adjust to the situation. They find a way to move forward. Even if they have to do it on their own.

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