September 22, 2021
Confessions of a Control Freak | S2 E2

The Alessis are confessing their desire for control (well, at least one Alessi does)...and discover why a little control isn't always a bad thing.

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Are you a control freak? If you say no, but the people around you say yes.... This might be an episode you need to listen to! 

In this episode, we tackle how to handle people with control issues in our families and businesses - and you'll hear some honest confessions from one of the Alessis (guess which one!) about their own tendencies to desire control.  These honest conversations will help you to avoid the struggles the Alessis had to learn to handle. 

These tips will show you how to treat your loved ones better, become a better communicator, and enjoy a beautiful relationship in your own family business.

These tips will show you how to:

  • avoid the negatives of being a control freak
  • treat your loved ones better
  • become a better communicator;
  • Enjoy a beautiful relationship in your own family business. 


0:00 Intro to Season 2 Episode 2
2:34 The Big Confession
4:47 Push The Button!
6:49 Importance of Self-Awareness
11:17 What Causes Control Issues?
14:37 Difference between Unhealthy Control and Authority
17:53 Controlling vs. Manipulation
20:37 When Control is a Good Thing
30:08 Closing Thoughts

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Welcome to another episode of the Family Business podcast with Steve and Mary Alessi. And today we're talking about things that we can't talk about on Sunday. So we want you to relax and enjoy the family business podcast because family is everybody's business. And today we're going to talk about something and really I'm going to use Allen Paul's little phrase he just shared with us as we get going. In this particular podcast, and many podcasts to come...


we're going to be the podcast that is saying things that we should be canceled for. 

Oh, Jesus. 

Yes. All right. So Allen Paul is in the back with Jon Roman, and we have in place precious Ashlie so here is our next subject matter to tackle.

This is a big one.

 This one's gonna be...

Don't just throw it out there yet.


This is a big one. 

You'd like to give a little intro to it? And then

Well, I think this is an issue that not only people deal with in the family, they deal with it in every single area of their life. And it has destroyed families. It's destroyed businesses. It's destroyed huge corporations. It's destroyed kingdoms. 


This is a big topic. And it hides.


It hides. Some people it doesn't. It... they wear it like a badge. And other people... Almost everybody has this. But it can be hidden even in the meekest person. It can be hidden. Some people use it for...

Yeah, no

 their own. 


You know, their own. What's the word I'm trying to find? 


 That's a good one. That's a good one so for their own benefit, to their own advantages. Yeah, no, it's a, it's a, it's a Leviathan. Yeah. That's a word.

We're not going to be able to put the title of this then on the episode because we... we... we just want... they just got to tune into hear what this is gonna be about. 

We can't?

 Can I tell them the title yet?

I think you should.

I want to tell it. I...

I want to tell it. Don't..... stop.

It's my idea. Okay, ready? I claim ownership.

Okay, and here I'm giving it over to you. 

Yes, you are. You're so good. There'll be pay back later, though. 

Yes, there will be. 

Yes there will be. okay. Here's the title of our podcast, Confessions of a control freak. Um, am I controlling, Mary? You can't say it on Sunday. But am I controlling?

Yes, yes. At times. Yes. 

And I admit it. I admit it.

 That's how you control. 

And that's why it's a confession.


I am  a control freak. 

You are. And I think it's good that you are owning up to that. 


Because it's what sets you free. 

It is. 

I'll just turn this mic off. Go ahead.

Go. Yeah, and this is part of my therapy. The counselor said, I have to speak more about these things.

Oh, you know, I'm not..I'm not a counselor. But go ahead. 

No, no, here's why I want to bring this up. I we make light of it now.  And I have to make sure we understand when I say I'm a control freak, I may like control. 


But I personally don't have to always be in control. 


So I'm okay with, you know, passing the mic to you in our line of work. I'm okay with passing the mic to Christopher and the girls and others, Jon and Armando. I like passing the mic on. It's when we... when I pass the mic on, I just like things done a certain way because I think that particular way works good for the brand you can say or for, you know the... the response for the people and so on. So 

the overall thing.

and the problem with it is sometimes it can come across as controlling, 


And though there's areas that I like things perfect and in order that could be then perceived as controlling. And in our relationship over the years, especially early on, you felt like that, didn't you?

Yeah, I think because you were just a stronger personality on the outside. Not necessarily the stronger personality but that's why I said in the beginning control, and controlling nature can also hide itself. And there's other areas of control. There's a proverbs that I read that said, Man looks at the outward appearance, but God judges the motive. And I think the... the, the tricky part of control is there are people who are strong leaders, and you are one of those people. But you're not a manipulating controlling person. You just were like to dominate. I, I love this story, because I think it's so funny now. But the kids were really small and we'd gone to Orlando to visit my mom and we spent three days there. You didn't come..... we always went together as a family. But for whatever reason on that trip, you didn't come. You were going to come on like the fourth day and join us. And we'd spent the days at the park, stayed in a hotel, and I just said it was me and the four kids and my mom for three days. And we just had fun. It was so laid back, it was just relaxed without marching orders. Get the kids let's go. Let's get it out of the house. And you get to the air... to the hotel. And we're all in the elevator. You remember this? 


Here, we're all in the elevator together. And we're laughing we're just having another great day. And you're not there three minutes, and you went, somebody push the button, push the elevator button. Push it... we're on, we're on the sixth floor, push the button. And we all just looked at you like, Are you kidding me? And I looked at you and I said for three days.

We have been freak free.

We have been fine. And we've pushed the button. And we've made our ways to our room, no one's been lost. We've not hung around this elevator for 30 minutes with no one pushing the button. And the great thing about you in that moment was that you realize it and you immediately stopped.


And we made it a joke. It's not always funny for some people, though. 

It's not. No, it's not, you know, self awareness is a good thing.


And with maturity and with mistakes, and with successes you've become... you should become aware...


.... of yourself how you respond, how you're coming across, you got to learn what it is to read the room and walk in and know where you stand and, and so on. And all that is so important.


Not just to success in your your work and your business. But in your personal relationships. You got to know what it is to read the room. It's like there's some members of our family that, you know, if we had a zapper, I'd.... wear out the battery on one who just just doesn't know when to stop talking around the table, right? Because it's always it's like a vortex. You get sucked into their world, you're like, wait, man, I want to hear from others at the table, too. It's it's a lack of self awareness that some people have. Yeah. And when it comes to this right here, being a control freak, some are a control freak and don't even know it.


 But you have to sit back and realize there's other people that have opinions or other people that may not like things the way you like them. And then you have to say, Okay, let me back off. I don't have to do this. We don't have to do this. And maybe one of the things that over the years lessons that I've had to learn was...oh, just recently, if we're going to go up to Georgia, we have our farm in Georgia, it's an eight hour drive from our doorstep without stopping to buy any groceries or go to a stop to eat or anything. It's literally eight hours to the minute from our doorstep, to Georgia, our farm. And what I like to do is because when we get in the car and every man that... and some women that have that tendency to want to, it's not just controlling it's, I want to get in the car, let's get to the destination. 

Now that's a guy.

 Okay, so so that's where I'm at first thing so I'm like "Okay, we got to be out of here at 5am." We got to be in the truck. 

On the nose.

On the nose because I want to make sure that I'm there and it's it's like, Okay, I know exactly what the traffic flow is going to look like in Dade County. Then what is going to look like in Broward County. This is registering in my brain. Then we're going to get up past the Palm Beach County we're going to end up in Martin County and Orange County. All these things are going off in my brain at the same time when I'm thinking about let's get out of the house at 5am, which means you got to wake up at four, you got to get your luggage downstairs. I'm going to pack the night before so we are not late in the morning God forbid.

I just watched your heart rate go up just talking about it,.

Just talking about it. So we did it the last time though. So whenever we would go on this trip we're out the door at 5am. But last time we were going we were taking my mom and I didn't want to have to wake her up, I wanted this to be a nice experience. And so I think I, we said we'll show up at nine o'clock by then the traffic will die down.

Which was hard for you.

So yes, it was. But... But I talked myself into it because I'm thinking for once in every so often, not myself, I'm thinking of how this is going to manage, go over with my mom, I wanted to be healthy, happy, sitting in the back of the truck and everything we get on the road, nine o'clock. Long story short, we ended up getting later to the farm. But it was such an enjoyable trip.

Yes. imagine that.

 It was so much more peaceful. All my calculations of traffic and stress and everything totally changed. Because now there's a second option to doing it just my way and the only way. 


It's all about ...Yes, yes. Sometimes, when you give up a little control, 

just a little.

Just a little, It's amazing how life pans out. Yes. Yes, it does, so. So self awareness is important when you have a tendency to want to control things or do things a certain way.

What do you think that comes from though? What is that level of control? And I know it's, there are normal facets to that.

God. No.


I'm kidding.

Don't blame Him.


Was is that really?

I think partly it's, it's a personality thing I really do.

It's not deep seated insecurities?

 I don't, I don't know if there's any insecurity there. Now I got insecurities, but I'm not sure that's the insecurity area that's motivating. I think... I.... Gosh, maybe we need to call a counselor. Give me your phone. Let's call somebody right now.

I'm just gonna call Dr. Laura. She's on the radio right now.

I don't know. I What do you think it is?

You don't want to know what I think.

Talk to me!

Well, I... I think that the more controlling the personality is, there's just this tendency to think, and I've observed this, even with other friends who would say they're control freaks too... that there's this tendency to think nobody's going to do it as good as you. So you've got to take the lead, because everyone else is going to flake, or somebody is going to flake on you. And whether or not, that's not what's in your mind, your thoughts. It can be what comes across.


And I remember you saying one time, because you really did work on adjusting this part of your personality. I've watched you say, there's areas that I need to lead and not control. Because the truth is people that are hearing this and no, you would go He is so no, he shares everything. But for those of us that have worked behind the scenes, we do know that it can come across as controlling. But it's because you do know you have a vision for what you want and how it needs to be. But in the areas where I would say it would have been an unhealthy controlling thing, that it really just stemmed from this need for things to go a certain way. And the only way that they would meet your expectations is if you were at the wheel and you controlled it. And that it was hard for you to let go and let somebody else drive and just go along for the ride. Even in conversations, even like when we would be sitting with people that were new, and I'm just listening and learning. I'm just being a listener, you wanted me to be a talker? Because you wanted me to carry the conversation. And I would feel like you're trying to even control this conversation. Can we just sit here and listen, be like, well, Mary is quite the talker. Mary, why don't you say... Mary, you know, ask the question, or you would kick me under the table, like talk more. And it would make it frustrating for me because I would think you can't control everything. They're just some things you've just got to let happen. You have worked very hard on that. But I think at your nature of your core, there's a lot of people like that. And really, you need those people. 


You got to have people that will take the lead and say, Okay, I'm at the front of the line. Everybody follow me. You know, we can't all just be Indians and no chiefs.


. So I think control freaks get really a bad... a bad...


... light. Sometimes, when they get it confused with just good, strong leadership. They're not affirmed that area. They're just called, you're just controlling everything, which isn't necessarily true.

No, I'm glad you say that. Because it's not. There's...there's a level of control and every family and every business right and every church, there's a level of authority that comes across as controlling right from the top because you have to have that. At the same time, here's where I would say it you're a control freak, okay? When that level of authority and control starts to cause everybody else serious anxiety and anger, resentment. 

Eggshells, I can't speak up...

Yeah. Now Now we've just moved into an unhealthy right environment. And again, we're not over here at the level of, you know, mental disorders with someone who has to have things a certain way all the time. Now we're talking about somebody that just may be a irritant when you're working with them, or in the home, every so often something arises and...

You put the cup here, and they're going to come back in there and go, who put this cup here? The cup belongs here.

Yeah, yeah, that's not that's not good. But I would say from from the standpoint of realizing that I don't have to be a control freak, here's where it gets dangerous. Okay. I think when you realize that there are people that really do not want to hang out with you. Yeah, that's true. When there are people that really don't want to work for you, or with you, they don't want to be on your team. Now, you got some freakish behavior patterns that are causing people to say, hey, you may even pay me more money, but I'm not, I'm not. It's not worth working here. 


You, that's where you've created a toxic environment through being a control freak. And, you know, if you, you go to your home, and you can't even sit in certain furniture, certain rooms in the house, because God forbid you move a couple of pillows or 100 pillows that you've set up, somebody put in place and you...

 Talking about me?

I'm saying the control freak. If you can't do that, now, you're going to have some problems in your relationship. I mean, you know, we joke about certain ethnicities, and the way the mother is...


 in that ethnic group. And we laugh. I mean, years ago, we went to Cuba. And when I introduced your mother, my mother in law, all the Cubans started laughing and I never understood why until I realized more and more that there are Cuban mothers that are incredibly controlling. 


17:32 the point that they take the fun, out of everything. Now that's where you you, you become a freak, now, you've got problems.

It's too far.

It really is too far.

It's creating a lot of resentment. Nobody can just be themselves. And then the problem with that is it creates a critical atmosphere, critical spirit, everything you do you feel judged by that person. And that makes it really, really hard. But I want to say this, because we mentioned it in our intro, the controlling nature that's hidden, that hides.


Because there's at least the person that's controlling that outward about it, at least, you know, you know, you can confront that you can deal with that. Usually those types of control, controlling nature's go, I know I'm that way. I hate it that I'm that way. Call me out on it. Yeah, that's healthy. Okay? But there's really a controlling nature that turns into manipulation quick and which....manipulation is what's dangerous. 


Not control. You know, it that's, that's okay. You know, we need the leaders. But when it becomes a manipulation, where it's a hidden control, and you can't put your finger on it, but you're always feeling like you have to apologize for something and you don't know quite what you did wrong. That's the level of control that is dangerous. That goes too far. And it's... and it lurks. It's hidden. It's quiet, it's always passive aggressive, which I looked up years ago. Aggressive passive, because I thought that's what you were? You.... your disorder was aggressive passive, because you'd be aggressive and then you'd get sweet. Oh, yeah. Because I knew I was passive aggressive. 


There's no such thing. There's no aggressive passive. 

So, okay.

 There's no such thing for Steve. One for Steve.

They didn't catch it, trust me. They didn't catch it.

You got that one. But there's no such thing. It's not a disorder. It is order. It's okay to be strong in the moment, not abusive. We're not talking about the 1% of crazy, we're talking about the 99% of normal that we all deal with, right? So when you're dealing with a controlling nature, your mom's that way, or your dad's that way or your sister, whoever it is in your family, there's some normalcies. where it's not normal is when it's quiet. It's stealth. It's hidden, but everyone feels like something's off and they can control from behind the scenes. And they'll control by either being very critical. whispering to other people using chisme, which in Spanish is gossip, cutting down and harming and hurting and controlling that way, or shutting someone out.


Completely cutting someone off and you don't know what you did, to control an environment. That's, that's a different type of control that really is destructive. So if you are a control freak out there, and you like to put your cup in a certain way, you can sleep tonight. There's some normal things to that. 


you know, that you can monitor and manage. But it's the other quiet control...

When it goes into manipulation.

It's not healthy. Yeah, it's destructive.

 I'm glad you say that. Because wanting things done...

in order...

 in order. 

That's right. 

Or even, let's not, some will say, well, they, it has to be perfect. No, how about professional? Yeah, wanting the bathrooms cleaned a certain way in your company, and you....And if you're at the top, and you're saying, This is how I want it done, and you walk in with a checklist, and you tell that employee, this is what I want you to check out, and I'm going to make sure this is done because this bathroom makes a first impression to our people. That's not being a control freak. 


That is being professional.


 This is what we need to represent with our brand, what we're doing with our family

Holding high standards.

You know, there's nothing wrong with that. Now that healthy, that's healthy, you've got to show some instruction, which is good. That's why even while I'm in an elevator and all of you all jump in there, and all of you are blonds and nobody knows to push the button. I'm gonna say, hey, push the button. Well, it's not because I'm trying to control everything. I just want to get to the floor. Is that all right?

Well, I have to be honest, because most of the time now when I get on the elevator with my children, no one pushes the button. So you make a good point, sir. We just stand there talking.

 That's so true.

 So our children are more like me. 

Oh, my gosh, yeah. But but all of them, but we do like things in order. And I know this from your standpoint.


That could have been and was kind of a, you know, an issue early on in our marriage. But the results of that, what was perceived as a control freak...


They... I wasn't a control freak. I just like things done a certain way, the right way. You're thankful. 


 Because of the way it has benefited the, you know, surroundings and so forth in our lives all these years later,

it's taught me to to raise the bar a little bit in my own life.


To it's not controlling because I was taught wrong, okay. I think I believe something that wasn't necessarily true.

 I don't think somebody taught you this.

 meaning the society that I was in, I learned, right? And I want to say my father, not my mother, my mom's very much in order and in control. But my father just had a different...

Is she? ....


that's why those Cubans laughed me out the door.

She's a good woman, 

she's a great woman.

So I would say what I picked up and thought if I spoke my mind, or wanted things in order, that was control, because I had a father that was so fluid with everything. But that wasn't.... that was control that was hidden.

 That was manipulation.

 So in my mind, I was so worried, I think I didn't know where the threshold was with you, where the line was. So what I learned was, this was somebody who had their life in order, valued order, and was willing to tell the whole family, we're walking this way. And the house will look like this. And we are going to hold this standard high. And I'm not living like that. I want the house, I want our life to look this way. And I learned, took me a little while but I learned that, thank God, I had a leader that was leading our home and leading me, that I could really come into submission with and in agreement with and in a partnership with that I knew would hold the banner high, that we were going to live life well. And it wasn't going to be in disarray. There would be order, but that did not mean it was because I just had to listen to what you said cuz you're a control freak. 


 You know, that was a false thought, or even a false accusation that I made.

Most people will criticize the person that's in control like that. 


And we understand why because a person that has that kind of strong leadership or temperament makes people without it feel uncomfortable. Because it's okay then to leave the bed unmade all day. It's OK when I didn't want to stop going home to get gas and then you get in the car next day and it's like empty and you're like, wait a minute, what now..... they, it's almost a.... you resent them because they're pushing you to do something that naturally you don't want to do. 


So that person is going to manifest itself in pretty much every area of life where there should be some measure of order.


 Now, again, not abusive, because we can't have that person in the relationship. And if you're that person, then you really got to go back and check yourself out, look at how you're, how others are responding. Look how your kids respond to you. Look at your employees, or your spouse... if, if, if you're aware of yourself enough, you're going to see that okay, when I'm step over this edge, now I'm making other people feel very uncomfortable, and their behavior is unsettling. And I don't ever want somebody to feel uncomfortable with that, with me being in the room. And over the years, I would say to you, quite a bit Mary, Hey, are you happy? Say to the kids, are you happy? There's something in me that wants people to be happy, because of my presence, because of my production, what I'm doing, I want people to be happy. It's the server portion. A part of me that, that comes out. And people don't always see that here in the church, they only hear me sitting, standing on the platform saying things a certain way. But for me, the people who come to this church... from the moment they drive onto the property, I want them to feel some measure of good, I want them to feel good. So every touchpoint, every environment, has to demonstrate that in one way or another. So then, okay, we had an event not too long ago, that was here at the church. And I walked out in the lobby, the staff was there in the lobby, people were talking, so on and so forth. And I looked through the windows in the lobby, and I saw weeds growing by the garden, I saw that the fountain was not on, and man, it just came up within me. So I go running out there, I'm dressed up in a jacket, I'm going to host the whole event, our staff is in there, they're talking making light, everybody's having a good time getting ready. But as soon as I saw that I caused, it's like somebody turned off the lights and the air conditioner, it just went boom. 

 Took all the air out...

....took all the air out of the room, and I'm out there, I'm like, come on, I'm thinking, Okay, this is where I got to lead by an example. I'm not gonna sit there and say, guys, go pull the weeds, go get things ready, I'm gonna step out and start doing it. Because the smart staff know that if the boss goes to do something that they shouldn't be doing, we better step in and relieve them from doing it, or else everybody's gonna be bothered, it's gonna be uncomfortable for everybody. And sure enough, they all came out, they all came out. Mary, I walked away feeling like, Oh, my God, I shouldn't have done that. I shouldn't have pushed that envelope there. There's other things to get ready for. And that's the part where sometimes the whole control freak thing, you feel like it's, it's wrong to try to create some kind of order. Because if you do that, then you're labeled a control freak. No, it's like no way. If we didn't do that, if I didn't start the ball rolling, if I don't set the standard, if I don't move forward, even sometimes when it's a little more aggressive than we're used to. 


All right, then the the level of presentation and the production, all those things start to get watered down. 


 And you you just can't do that in your home, in your relationships on the job and the business that you're running. Here's the thing, if you run the business, if you run the family, you're the head of it, then you better have a measure of control about you. Or you won't have a big business, a healthy family, even a ministry. 

No, you're not going to draw the people that is going to help you elevate your existence. 

Well, there has to be a standard bearer in every home, there has to be one in every business, there has to be one. There has to be many in business and in ministries, you have to have a standard bearer and a lot of the time. It's like, it's the mom at home, she's the one that's so aggravated, she's doing all the work and nobody cares, and the kids are running around. It's not always the dad. So when it is the dad, that's that standard bearer, what a blessing it is. Because he does have the ability to speak to the whole family that this is the way it's going to be. And I think sometimes moms feel even more guilty than like what you felt walking out and saying, Why aren't these weeds pulled?


 Because the truth is, you're right, you're absolutely right. You're absolutely right, you saw what the rest of us did not see. We all walk right past those weeds and we didn't see it. But your controlling nature, which I think is such a negative term. It should be switched, we need to come up with a different term. It's a standard bearer that we need to constantly be raising that bar and somebody has to help us hold it high. And a lot of people get a bad rap. I know moms get a real bad rap. I've talked to moms over the years that say I'm just so tired. You know nobody cares but me that I want the house to look nice and we spent a lot of money on this house and, and and nobody cares. It's just me and I freak out and I get so upset whatever. And we put that parent in the wrong position. We should support that. And say let's help hold that standard high because the truth is, it does take chaos and turn it into order. Yeah, somebody's got to do that.

And we're called to do that.


But we we are especially for the leader. If you're going to be the leader then be willing to take the lead and take the charge and don't come across as a controlling freak but definitely raise your level of expectation of others and hold them accountable to it call them up to that level. You know, they tell us this about just in general, people's expectations, they say, a person will never go eat in a restaurant that dirtier than their kitchen. 


 Have you noticed that?


 If we walk into a restaurant that is not as nice as the one we have at home our kitchen we're not staying there to eat, doesn't matter how good the food is, we'll do takeout

but I wouldn't stay in a hotel that wasn't....

Yeah, so expectation, the level of professionalism and everything that you do in your home and so forth. You've got to make sure you're pulling that level up and you constantly improve your surroundings... whoops, you constantly improve your surroundings in your environment in your home. That's a good thing... that's not a bad thing. As long as there's not the manipulation as long as you're sitting there saying okay, maybe I shouldn't be so hard this too hard maybe maybe there's a better way to communicate this maybe I need to use other people to help me get my point across so you know even with our kids, I'll say to you sometimes, "Mary please.  "I don't like the way the kitchen is looking. Can you please talk to the girls about it?" 


And so on

 and then you let me be the messenger.

Because you say things better.


You say things differently, you come at it in a different manner. And that's very healthy for us. So there's.... this can go on because my mind keeps going and going about other situations where either a control freak can get you in trouble, or there's a misperception of it. Especially today. It's amazing. I don't know who the person is that wants to create this cancel culture that's out there pulling the strings and saying to people that are too aggressive and too harsh and too strong, that you shouldn't be that way. Because whoever is up there at the higher levels, pulling all the strings is trying to control

That is exactly what I was talking about that though...that's that quiet, stealth. destructive controlling spirit. 

Yeah. Hey this was good. Yes. 

You did good.


Appreciate how you you know,

back off? 


Not so Controlling. 

Not so controlling. 

Well, we hope you enjoyed this other episode that we had here. Why don't you close this out cuz I don't want to control it. Go.

I don't know what I'm supposed to say. Because you take the lead so much that I'm not... I hope that you all enjoyed this podcast, you're really gonna have to take the lead on this.

... for another podcast of the Alessi family business, good job  Mary. She's shaking my hand.

I could have done that. 

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