How Do Successful Leaders Maintain Self Control?

by Bob Rausch, Ph.D.

Composer John Stevenson said, “Many people have the ambition to succeed; they may even have a special aptitude for their job. And yet they do not move ahead. Why? Perhaps they think that since they can master the job, there is no need to master themselves.”

Think back over your career and the people you’ve worked with; what would you say are the chief characteristics of successful people? A few things stand out to me, one of them being self-control. Leaders who are easily overwhelmed seemed to lack the ability to maintain a steady persona during difficult times; others can’t maintain self-control even when things are running smoothly.

I recently read No Easy Day by Mark Owen, one of the Navy Seals who raided the Osama Bin Laden fortress. I was impressed with the ability of the Seals to maintain focus in the middle of a heart pounding event. Owen mentioned several times that it was the fact that each man knew what to do, knew their ability and knew the ability of their team members that allowed them to be successful.  Their mission was the embodiment of self-control.

You can only maintain self-control when you know who you are and understand your abilities. Napoleon was correct; “The strong man is the one who is able to intercept at will the communication between the senses and the mind.”

If you found these tips from Bob Rausch, Ph.D. of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in his self-paced, downloadable courses at


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