Control This First

If you’ve ever watched a Georgia football game on television, you’ve seen the steely expression on the face of Mark Richt. 

Today I watched Georgia play Vanderbilt. When Georgia was ahead, Mark Richt had that trademark expressionless face. When his team got behind, his demeanor did not change. Whether it rains or whether the sun shines, you can count on that same stony face. It can be summed up in three words Richt said about a good performance against South Carolina: “We didn’t panic.” 

That’s the polar opposite of how the fans in the stands and on Facebook act when the game is on. Emotions run high. We holler when our team scores a touchdown, recovers a fumble, or completes a long pass. We gripe when our team fumbles the ball, misses a field goal, or fails to advance when they have the ball. 

We invest all our emotions into something over which we have absolutely no control. 

Self-control is the most control you can ever hope for. 

Coach Wooden aptly said, “Emotion is your enemy.” What did he mean by that? 

Consider what emotional outbursts can do. 

If we yell at our kids to correct them, we will antagonize them. James Dobson said, “Resist the temptation to yell at your kids. It’s the quickest way to break their spirit.”  

When our anger is roaring, reason gets tossed aside much of the time. We say things we will later regret. Then we need to spend time doing damage control to rebuild what our anger ripped to shreds. 

Now let’s look at what it feels like to be hit with an avalanche of vexatious lava. We stop listening because we naturally avoid pain. Even if our accuser has good intentions, the abrasive way the message is delivered blinds us. We end up either lying about how we feel to end the confrontation or we walk away and make plans never to cross that person’s path whenever possible. 

Excessive happiness can do us in. When we meet the person we consider our hero, we turn from rational people into quivering, fawning fans. That’s why the more famous someone becomes, the more they need security to keep the loonies at bay. 

Self-control starts with our emotions. We all have a choice how we respond to what life hands us. We can change our moods as often as the weather. But then we might end up lost like the people on Gilligan’s island. The alternative is to approach life like Jimmy Dean, who said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” 

Self-control is the greatest control we have. Don’t let the winds of life toss you about. Adjust your sails so you can make it home no matter which way the wind blows.