My Circle of Control

In early June, I wrote about the adventures Anne and I had moving into our new home. The weekend before last, we had a couple, Roseann and Dave, from the community from which we moved come to dinner on Saturday night. We itemized the travails of our move, talked about how many weeks of work it took us to get settled, and listed the things we’ve yet to do:

  • Landscaping
  • Replacing faulty windows
  • Window treatments (the custom blinds we ordered won’t be in for four more weeks)
  • Painting the front doors
  • Getting the cable wires hidden that the chuckleheaded electrician insisted didn’t have to be put behind the sheetrock because, “It’s all wireless now,” which caused the cable guy to drill holes through the floor
  • Getting the driveway re-paved
  • Getting the pavers in the front walkway re-set.

When we finished all that, Roseann and Dave were staring at us as if we were from another planet.

Anne said, “What’s the matter?”

Roseann said, “You don’t seem upset by any of that.”

I said, “We talked about it and decided the only thing that would happen if we got all worked up about it is that we’d get all worked up about it. What’s the point?”

Life is About Choices

The conversation recalled something introduced to me by my friend, Jenny Morgan. One day, during a Zoom call with Jenny, she held up what looked like a circular paddle. The images below were on opposite sides of the paddle:








I asked Jenny to send those images to me. She did. I made paddles for Anne and me. We keep them on our desks. I don’t know that I’m ready to say we’ve mastered the Circle of Control. But we’re getting better at it. And we’re constantly amazed at the number of things we used to sweat that we now realize constitute the small stuff.

Wisdom is Where You Find It

I love the fact that I acquired a bit of wisdom in a Zoom call with Jenny. I never saw it coming. But that’s the way that particular cookie crumbled.

I didn’t have to control it. All I had to do was accept it.

Thank you, Jenny.


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

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  1. Loved this post, Mark, and could completely relate.

    I left for Denmark to look after my mother early in the summer, and hardly had I landed before rumblings about a pilot strike was heard. Three weeks before I was to return the strike was a reality. Many people asked what I was going to do and I said “Nothing. Either they are still on strike when my flight is scheduled and I will deal with it then. Or they are flying again, and I don’t have to do anything. But I am not going to be upset for the next three weeks over something outside of my control.”

    Five days before my return the planes were back on schedule.
    (I own that had the planes not been flying, the worst that would have happened was that I would have stayed longer, seen more friends, and disappointed my husband. Many others might have incurred worse consequences.)