There are few statements I make with absolute certainty, but it is safe to say, I’m a terrible golfer.
One of my bad habits is griping the club too tightly. If your grip is too tight, you have less control over the club and its speed. That means the ball goes everywhere but where you want. Trust me, I have water hazards full of experience.
Hanging on to anything tightly reduces the amount of control you have. Try grabbing a cat.
Your ability to control is proportionate to your ability to relax. If you’re negotiating with me and you’re tied to your position, I can control the situation. The grip you have on your position is going to slow you down as you try and react to my counter proposals.
It’s the same thing with your to-do list. You’re working on the year-end report that was due last week, the phone is ringing, e-mail is coming in and the boss is assigning new projects. The natural response is to tighten up and try and hold on to control of the sitaution.
David Allen uses the analogy, “mind like water”. If you throw a stone into a pond how does it react? You don’t hear, “Oh, my bottom’s already covered with stones,” or “I need to calculate the displacement of this stone,” or “How big a splash should I make?”. The water reacts in proportion to the size of the stone and then relaxes back to its normal surface.
To be in control, you need systems that can help you absorb new demands and then relax to your previous state of doing. When stuff comes over your horizon, you need to be able to refocus on it quickly, put it into a system that you are comfortable with, knowing it will be looked after in the proper place and time.