The only person you can control is yourself

Industrial Tips & Tricks
struggling at work

When the ‘product’ at your job is people, it can be a tough gig. After months of being let down by candidates, I was really struggling not to take it personally and I found I began to lose my faith in people. Thankfully our office here in the South East had an upcoming Resilience training session booked, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Within the training session, my solution – unbeknownst to me – began with a simple sentence: ‘You can only control yourself and your own actions’. This made me reflect on my recent let downs. Did I do everything that was expected of me? Was there anything I could have done to avoid this happening? For the first few days after this training I really went overboard. I started re-writing templates, adding extra processes steps, making my phone screening even more in-depth and conducting full interviews on everyone.

With hindsight, this was not the best way to apply the training I had received. After weeks of working long hours and practically living at work, I was exhausted and I needed to change something. So instead, I adjusted how I applied the key principles I had learned in training and broke it down into these four simple steps:

1.Remain positive, and don’t be Negative Nancy.

After being let down on numerous occasions, it is easy to assume the next candidate in a similar situation will do the same. But taking a negative view definitely had its flow on effects on everything I would touch, especially the candidates I would interact with. My new approach is to remind myself to be positive and start each interaction with a clean slate.

2.Don’t take it personally – it’s not always about you!

When you place all your faith into a candidate, it’s hard not to take their behaviour personally. I now remind myself that at the end of the day, everyone I deal with comes from a different background, they have had different experiences and perhaps have a different outlook on the world. You can only help people so much, the rest is up to them.

3.Reflect (gently) on what you could have done better.

I don’t beat myself up about making mistakes. Instead, I acknowledge that no one is perfect and there’s always room for improvement. I have begun to always ask myself and my experienced work colleagues ‘what would you have done? What could I do to avoid this situation?’ I’ve found gaining advice from my fellow colleagues quite therapeutic and it’s helpful to have a different perspective. After all, as the saying goes “Insanity is repeating the same thing and expecting different results”.

4.Reassess your processes – work smarter not harder

It’s as simple as that. Instead of sending that text to confirm an interview with a candidate, call them. Do some investigation on social media, ask the important questions at the beginning of your phone screen. There are many things you can do that will save you a lot of time.


I am not saying that all of the above steps work all the time, but reminding yourself that you can only control yourself and your own actions does give you peace of mind. The above approach has made me feel like I have more control on the outcomes, with the ability to let go of the things that I can’t influence. I can definitely say that since then, I haven’t had many days where candidates have let me down, and I have saved myself a lot of heartache.