True Confessions of a Control Freak; In Business and In Life

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Last November my son came home with a Thanksgiving card for me. He made it. The outside of the card said “I know I don’t say it enough but I am very thankful for you Mommy because …”. The inside of the card read “you help me wipe on the potty”. After a fit of laughter I recognized a startling parallel in my life. Whether at the office, or at home, I spend a great deal of time cleaning up shit and not enough time laughing.

I’m not complaining. I find parenting extremely rewarding, just like managing a team. Everyday I observe my children growing into smart, strong, funny little people. And everyday I have the opportunity to watch those on my team evolve into incredible professionals. But, in both instances, I spend a fair amount of my day “cleaning” and not enough time enjoying interactions.

At home, time is spent cleaning the house, washing dishes, and picking up toys. I’d much rather play board games and read books with my kids. But my responsibilities are divided. At work I’m sucked into an email vortex where I quickly have to problem solve. At times I feel as if I’m more reactive when I’d rather think strategically, plan ahead, and spend time with my team understanding their work and goals.

Perhaps this is an issue with time management. Maybe I need to schedule and plan my time more appropriately. Ultimately it’s a matter of control. I don’t want to give up control. And I don’t want to give up control because I don’t want to become irrelevant. If I delegate and allow others to help I fear my value will diminish.

I realize this is a fallacy. My value doesn’t reside in my ability to make a bed with square corners, or to answer an email 30 seconds after receiving it. My value is found in what I give back. Whether it’s extra quality time with my children, or a communications strategy to guide our team for the year, the time I invest in making a positive impact is what matters.

Giving up control and delegating also empowers others. My kids get satisfaction out of helping around the house. My team wants to contribute. I find that some of the best ideas result from those team members that approach a project with a fresh pair of eyes. Wanting to control the way something is done is overpowered by the substantial results I see from the way they do it.

If I don’t give up control and empower others I’m failing my kids, my team, and myself. How do you give up control?


Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.

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