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  • kimrussellpro

Recovering Control Freak

Hi, my name is Kim. I’m a salon owner and a recovering control freak.

"Micromanagement is a complete waste of everybody’s time. It sucks the life out of employees, fosters anxiety, and creates a high-stress work environment. Select the right people and give them room to get on with the job." - Bridgette Hyacinth

I don’t know who the woman is who wrote this quote, but all I can say is ….Ouch.

When I first saw this quote online, I quickly scrolled by because this one hit me hard, and as difficult as it was, I had to go back and read it a few times.

This was me, a total micromanager, everywhere in my life, especially when I became a salon owner. I was an absolute complete control freak, and in my tiny mind at the time, no one could do anything as good as I could.

I needed to have my hands on and in everything. I needed to know every little thing that happened, what was said to every customer, and how it was said. I demanded who did what and ensured them that whatever it was, was unacceptable.

I didn’t give anyone space to breathe or do their job, and most did their job well.

So much about my early leadership and lack of those skills make me cringe now.

1993 was a time when leadership skills were focused on control, fear, borderline bullying tactics, or tough love, a phrase I used often.

One of my favorite management or leadership (or lack thereof) stories is my dusting story. When I started my business, we had rows and rows of glass shelves filled with retail products.

You could spend hours dusting those shelves, and an hour later, you could see dust. It was daunting, and everyone hated doing it, including me.

It didn’t matter that I hated doing it; I was the only one that did it right. (Feel free to laugh).

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to dust.

I couldn’t watch someone else dust the shelves; if I did, they wouldn’t do it like I did or put things back where I would. The process would make me so uncomfortable to watch that I would make them stop, and I would take over.

It took me years to let go and let other people dust the shelves, get creative, and put products where they wanted. And you know what, most of the time, it was better than how I did it.

When we become leaders or are put in a leadership role, we don't realize that whatever baggage we've been carrying from our past and childhood moves straight into that leadership role with us.

There was nothing about my childhood that I could control. From being abandoned in a car at one to spending my life in limbo for four years in foster care, I needed to keep control wherever I could.

And for me, that was my surroundings, my business, and the people in it.

To say trying to keep control was exhausting is an understatement. I hyper-focused on every little detail of my business. Don’t get me wrong, there were some instances where my control came in handy, and there wasn’t much I missed or slipped through the cracks.

The downside of trying to keep this level of control was that my brain and my body never stopped.

I never stopped working, didn’t sleep, and felt like I needed to be in the salon every hour it was open. I felt like I had to “keep watch.” The thought of the chaos that could potentially happen to my business if I wasn’t there was too much for me to handle.

There was no question about how much I cared for most of my employees. I say most because some were tough, and now I understand what it means to attract people in your life based on where you are in your own life.

I was an over-giver; I lacked (didn’t have) communication skills. I surrounded myself with takers in my business and my life. I thought if I gave enough and cared enough, everything would be ok, and I wouldn’t be abandoned again. At the time, I was clueless about why I was doing what I was doing and why. I was trying to keep people in my life by over-giving and people-pleasing.

As the years went on in my business, this “leadership” style I had was unsustainable. I loved what I was doing, but I often felt frustrated, taken advantage of, and under-appreciated. I tried to keep control, but the reality was that I was entirely out of control, and those feelings I had toward my business, my life, and the people in it were directly related to the trauma I suffered in my childhood.

For the sake of my business, my life, and the people in it, I needed to figure out how to let go of control. I needed to trust my employees to do their job and make choices and decisions that reflected me and the business I had grown for years.

One would think that when you need to make these changes, you would start with the logistics of your business and go out and get some business coaching. Maybe you start with changing the structure of your business by adding systems and manuals. These are all good and necessary when running a business but are not usually the root problem; you are.

Before you spend thousands on business services, it's doubtful that it will work until you decide to make the changes you need for yourself.

What it all boils down to when you're a leader is that everything starts and ends with you. And if you choose not to work on yourself and continue to try to keep control or blame employees or customers for everything going wrong in your business, that is a sinking ship and could implode at any minute.

Everything in your business and life starts with you. Once you realize you already have complete control of the outcome of your business and your life, you don’t need to try to “keep” control of the people and things around you. This might sound like mumbo-jumbo. If it does, then it's time to do the work on yourself.

Don’t get me wrong; there is a certain level of a control freak that comes with the title of being an entrepreneur. My micromanaging and control came straight from my unhealed childhood trauma. For me to be better in my business and live a more peaceful and content life, I needed to go back and heal myself. And if I didn’t, I would never be able to let go of the control and be the leader I knew I wanted to be.

We all have a story, and it might not be childhood trauma. It could be that you don’t feel confident or comfortable in a leadership role, and that's OK.

As entrepreneurs, we all have or had a reason why we wanted to be a salon owner or start that business. What matters most is what you do with that story, or the story you tell yourself, and how much longer you are willing to let it get in the way of your life and business.

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