Control the Controllables



Airport control tower

Airport control tower

“Control the Controllables” – this quote comes from Sachin Tendulkar, one of cricket’s all-time great batsmen.

The game of cricket is said to be very cruel to batsmen. Most things in cricket go against the batter.

On a good day something could go wrong.  On a bad day, everything goes wrong:

  • · You could get a grubber (a ball that simply does not bounce, and rolls through at speed to hit the stumps and get you out)
  • · The umpire could make an error and declare you (incorrectly) out. There is nothing you can do about it
  • · A fieldsman may come up with a super catch
  • · The pitcher may produce an unplayable delivery and get you out


Generally, batsmen have more bad days than good ones (at least they won’t admit anything to the contrary).

But Sachin rose above all this and has churned out runs by the ton. He has more centuries than any other batsman.

While his talent, mental strength, self-confidence, temperament and all other qualities have always been talked about, this post is about how well Sachin recognizes what he can control, and what he does about it.



Even after nearing 200 Test matches (the most by any cricketer), Sachin still meticulously goes about his 3-day pre-match preparation, without slacking one bit.

He practices all his shots, tries out new ones, remembers to re-play the existing ones, and goes about his preparation mentally checking off each item on his list.

With a very simplistic philosophy, he says that what he cannot control, he doesn’t worry about.

Instead, what he can control, he does a great job of it. He controls the controllables. This is why his 3-day regimen before the start of a test match is very sacred to him and has yielded tremendous results.


One of the things an effective leader always looks for is control. Control is a fantastic thing. When you don’t have control a feeling of frustration and helplessness creeps in.

If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

First recognize the things that you have control over, and then fully prepare for them.  This is the key to success.


Steve Jobs

As another example, the legendary Steve Jobs used to have a backup laptop and project in a trolley on the side, at every product launch. Not that he did not trust the primary projector and computer in the auditorium.

But being prepared for a malfunctioning projector or computer was within his control and he fully exercised it. In other words he controlled the controllable.

Having a plan B is always good control.

Next time you witness a good presentation, a moving speech, a finely orchestrated performance, think about how well the players must have prepared.  In your activities, think about the elements where you have exercised control and write about it below in the comments sections.  Tell us about your plan B’s.

 Image: © Dbvirago | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

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