“If they would just do….”
This the beginning of a phrase that is often said under the Capitol Dome in Charleston. Insert whatever you want to finish the sentence: “…it the way we’ve always done it” or “…what I suggested to them”. In the lobbying community this statement is usually made out of frustration – when things aren’t going your way or there seems to be a stalemate. This is when you quickly realize that you are not in control.
Looking back on my career I’ve reflected on the situations when I was not in control. While raising money for the University of Charleston I couldn’t control the downward turn in the economy. During my days as chief of staff for the Secretary of State I could not control the questions from the media. As a West Virginia lobbyist I do not control committee agendas. The list goes on and on, but you get the point.
The West Virginia Legislature is currently wrestling with the 2017 budget. In the final day of the budget session the governor’s office updated the revenue estimates and dropped a nearly $100 million bombshell – that revenue for next year will likely be an additional $92 million short of estimates. Whoops! The legislature obviously could not control that and, hence, we are still without a budget as leaders look for ways to develop a plan before July 1st.
Many businesses and support groups are stuck in the budget process too. Will their organization get funding? Will their industry see higher taxes? How deep will cuts be to regulatory agencies and what does that mean for certain industries?
Several questions arise, but the answer to all of them is the same: you can’t control it.
Several of my clients are asking similar questions. The urge to suggest what should happen or what the solution should be is often too strong to resist. But this response simply puts them back into the same position – you can’t control it. So what should a business or support group do when it comes to the realization that it ultimately cannot control the process?
The answer to this question is where my clients will be focused: focus on what you can control.
At Three Point Strategies we have developed detailed plans for our clients affected in some way by the budget. These plans focus on what they can control. We can control things like: how we influence public image, what achievements we highlight, who we communicate with, and our plans for the future (among many other factors).
I’ve never promised a client specific outcomes while lobbying for them. Our promise is to put our clients in the best possible position to achieve successful outcomes.
Matthew 22:15-40 outlines this principle of controlling what you can. As Jesus was in the midst of his ministry the Pharisees were out to trap him in his words. They asked Jesus what he thought about paying taxes to Caesar. Jesus asked them whose portrait was on the coin and they replied, “Caesar’s.” Jesus’s response shocked them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.
Later, the Pharisees continued in their pursuit to trip up Jesus. They asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” He replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Here we have the blueprint of control. We will have many things dealt to us that we cannot control. In Jesus’s day he was saying that you can’t control what Caesar is going to do – so give to Caesar what is his. But he does outline what we can control – and that is to love God and love our neighbor. In other words, we can control our actions.
Most situations we face in government affairs, in life, or in business we cannot control. At Three Point Strategies we recognize this fact and move on to what we can control. By doing so, our clients focus their valuable resources on maximizing strengths that put them in the best position for success.