In the classic business book, Fish!, the authors creatively mix fact and fiction as they tell a parable based on the world-famous Pike Place Fish market in Seattle, Washington. The central fictitious character, Mary Jane, gains insight and wisdom from her interactions with Lonnie, who works at the market.
While trying to get her make-believe office personnel to improve their work environment, she had a perfect opportunity to dispel the myth that people can’t control their attitude. Steve protested that if he got cut off in traffic he would get angry and honk or make an obscene gesture. He said that since something was done to him he wouldn’t have any choice about attitude or response.
Mary Jane countered by asking, “If you were in a tough part of town, would you have used that gesture?” Steve replied, “No way! You can get hurt doing that.” She then posed the question, “So you can choose your response in a tough part of town, but you have no choice in the suburbs?”
Often times I don’t think it comes down to not having enough self-control but rather not having enough “want-to.” We can have an extraordinary amount of self-control when we want to.