Within My Control and Beyond

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Josh Magill provides insight into the conundrum of control faced by Masterminds—like him.


Could you deal with someone like me? Could you stand my presence?

It really doesn’t matter to me. Well, that is what a personality test would tell you.

Such a test claims that I’m “cold and calculating,” especially when it comes to passionate things; my emotions are hidden deep inside—so far that I can’t even find them. Is that true? Honestly, I don’t know because I have never truly understood myself, or why I act and feel certain ways.

I didn’t cry when any of my grandparents died, but I hurt. I didn’t know how to share my pain with the world. I do know that I wanted to kill something or someone; I was nutty with anger. On the other hand, I think that even when I was 16, when my first grandfather passed, I wanted people to see me as composed, rather than emotional. So I didn’t cry.

Yet, I cried when my son lay in the hospital for three months after being born two months premature. Henry had two surgeries to fix his esophagus, stomach and diaphragm. I can count the times I’ve cried on one hand because crying, in my mind, is inefficient.

I’m unorganized, but only emotionally. I’ve never known the direction I wanted my life to go with regards to family, a spouse and children. Before I got married, I often wondered if I should “settle down” because my life was fast-paced and semi exciting. But it was solid, organized, and I had control.

Control is important to me. Not in the showy kind of way, rather organizing from behind the scenes. I believe that the control I desire is also not harmful to others, rather it is very helpful.

I know how to get things done in the professional world. Does that make me arrogant? No. I’m confident. Yes, I’m confident at work. Everything has a purpose, there is means to an end, and it’s all on my terms. Neither marriage, nor children allow me the control I desire.

The positions I’ve held as a service rep, service manager, and manufacturer rep traveling across the country to many stores in a home improvement warehouse chain gives me the opportunity to meet intriguing people, yet stay somehow anonymous.

Whether I’m taking clients to lunch or relaxing with my employees at a restaurant, these people all have a purpose in the working world to me. I didn’t care about most things going on around me or that the steak tasted good. My reason for being in those places, at that time, was to get more money or help for a job or help my employees feel comfortable around me.

Explaining this idea of “purpose control” is difficult because I don’t think everyone can understand; they are not as focused on the professional aspects of their lives. My goal, within legality, is to do what will ultimately create the most efficient environment or group of people.

I hate being in an environment riven with mistakes and feelings of insecurity. Though it sounds conceited, I see almost every part of a situation that I am interested in, as well as what should be done to continue or improve that situation. I believe I can do anything, although I’m sometimes afraid of failing.

The personality test classifies me as “The Mastermind.” Such a label is flattering to the ear, but a burden. I always try to fix a failing situation because it is my nature. I cannot leave corruption alone, which is a good trait for the workplace.

But my wife does not want me to fix everything; I’m supposed to listen. There is no control in “listening without the option of improving a problem.”


Let’s return to crying. My position that crying is inefficient shows how anal I can be at times about control.

As I said, I am not good with my emotions; therefore, I try not to use the particular ones that I find unhelpful, like crying. But when I cried when my son was in the hospital, it released anxiety, pent-up frustration and fear, allowing me to clear my mind and get through the situation.

Masterminds will use anything that allows them to keep their purpose intact.

We are open-minded—to a degree. We are quick to snatch a good idea, yet just as swift in discarding a terrible one. This action can sometimes be seen as cruel because we may not always say why the idea was poor; rather we dump the thought without thinking of others’ feelings. Why? Because we don’t care what others think about our ideas. If we are right—we are right. If our idea is horrible, we usually know it before we present it. So we aren’t devastated when it’s shot down.

The title of “The Mastermind” is also deceiving because we don’t know everything, nor are we good at everything. Masterminds are ultimate planners.

“We don’t need a date book to keep us on schedule,” says my mother, a possible Mastermind. “Everything is in our head. We recognize how things should go in almost any given situation, and we can’t understand why others don’t see things the way we do.”

Our public persona or the mask that we carry demonstrates our extreme confidence. We want others to believe that we know everything because deep down we are insecure. I’m not saying that I’m not intellectual, ingenious, or secretly aspire to greatness, because I am.

My point is that Masterminds are pragmatic over-achievers because of that hidden insecurity. I’m still surprised every time I do well on a paper or test, or have a story or article accepted, even though I’ve done it many times. Arrogant? No. I’m confident.

Like I said at the outset, this confidence does not bleed over into my emotional or social life outside of work. My wife, who would be classified as an “Inspector,” complements that side of me, keeping me grounded to my family duties and goals. She allows me to focus on the work side of my life, yet instills in me the need to share my feelings with her and my children. She “inspects” my emotional side, trying to understand my processes, which can sometimes be frustrating. This frustration can also cause arguments pertaining to insignificant issues between us.

Masterminds are not complete, though they may seem like they “have it together.” On the contrary, we are only half fulfilled. We simply don’t know how to deal with people on an emotional and social level. Our satisfaction comes from the professional working ranks, where we can use all of our strengths and very little of our weaknesses. Once we are able to gain “purpose control” over our emotional and social lives, the title of “The Mastermind” will fit nicely.

Read more from Men’s Work or a bit more on Dealing with Emotions…

image credit: Kheel Center/Flickr

About Josh Magill

Josh Magill is a writer, cloaked as a sales manager. His essays and reviews have appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, Dallas Morning News, Beyondthemargins.com, The Review Review and The Good Men Project. Magill's short story, The Fisherman and Maddie, was featured in the 2013 spring edition of The First Line and his debut collection of short stories and essays, A Day to Remember, was published in May 2014. He is the editor of his own website, The Magill Review.

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