Kick More Ass by Developing an Internal Locus of Control
Have you ever met someone and noticed how in control of their life they seem. They don’t blame others for their life’s circumstances. They understand that they’re actions do have weight, and also to what extent they do. They’re not necessarily more skilled, or intelligent or focused. So what are they? What makes these people different? Why is there internal world seemingly so cohesive?
Locus of Control
There’s a concept in personality psychology known as a locus of control. Its a scale which every person falls on somewhere. Where on the scale you fall either towards internal or external is a measure of how much you believe your actions control the events around you.
At the extreme end of external where you believe your actions have no weight whatsoever you have the extreme depressives. The “I don’t matter, nothing I do matters” type of people. On the extreme end of internal you’ve got “the universe revolves around me” type people. On the extreme end of arrogance. Those are extremes however.
Most people fall just off the sweet spot. They know there actions matter but they underestimate the extent. They know that if they show up for work they keep their jobs. But they assume that if there spouse is unhappy or their kids unmotivated or the fact that they’re not prosperous can’t be about them. Its society, or its the government, or its work or something. They shift the blame somewhere else. This is a subtle but still external locus of control.
The Sweet Spot of an Internal
Now the internal they own up to stuff. Internals don’t think they can lift the sun but they know their gravity shifts it slightly. They know their promotion at work isn’t about the company needing someone to fill a spot, they know they’ll make room for someone exceptional. Internals know their kids need strong leadership and they can be the one to give it to them. They can make their spouses day, if they choose to. Its up to them. They get that things that are in their control, ARE IN THEIR CONTROL. Thus whether they like or dislike the outcome they own up to their part in it and if they’re smart figure out how to avoid it next time.
These are the people who get all the opportunities, not because they’re lucky or loved by a deity. Because they seek them out, and when they get them, take them. No well what if I fail… They know thats up to them, and they choose to not quit until they’ve succeeded.
Becoming an Internal
No matter how much we wish some things we can’t control. They key is to focus on what we can control, and let the rest sort itself out. You can’t control who else works at your company, what their experience is, or who they know. All you can control is what you do. You CAN control how hard you work, how much you produce, how much you try to immerse yourself in your companies culture and support your coworkers. Thats up to you. Internals intuitively get that, and you can develop it to. How?
Focus on the process, not the outcome. You control your actions. Thats it, so do your best and don’t let the random actions of outside forces good or bad phase you.
Self talk. Stay positive, keep yourself confident and focused. Its easy to let our minds spiral and focus on the negative. Kill that reflex and train yourself through constant attention to your thoughts to be positive and supportive.
Earn confidence through small wins. Imagine someone decides to run a marathon next week. They’ve never really run before, and they’re not fit. What do you think will happen? They’ll probably fail. But not only that, they’ll become discouraged and give up their dream because they didn’t set realistic exponential goals. Whereas if they followed a process of next week I’ll run 5 times, then every day, then I’ll run 10 more km this week. Eventually they’d run the marathon. Grow constantly and set goals that both inspire you, but that you can achieve.
If you’re interested in the topic of locus of controls you can read further about it here.
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