Thursday, December 6, 2012

Who's In Control?

Sometimes I wonder who exactly “they” are. Maybe you do to. You know them. “They” are the shadowy figures lurking in the background. Apparently, “they” have a lot of power. I have been told that “they” control everything from national economies and political races down to what you learn (or don’t learn) in school.

Those who believe that “they” (whoever they are) control everything must also admit to having very little control over their own lives. They have an external Locus of Control.

Locus of Control is a psychological term that looks at how much control a person thinks they have over their own lives. People with an internal Locus of Control feel in control of their own destinies. People with a largely external Locus of Control feel outside forces and others control their fate.

Two co-workers applied for a promotion and neither one got the position. The person with the internal Locus of Control might think about what they could have done differently during the interview or what courses they need to take to be prepared the next time the position becomes available. The person, with the external Locus of Control will look outside of themselves for the answer. He might blame gender or race or just good old office politics for being passed over.

It is safe to say that most people who have experienced professional success have highly internal Loci of Control. They believe that, by and large, they are the ones who determine their fates. These are the people who don’t wait for favorable conditions or for things to change; they make things happen. These are the people who invest in bettering themselves and who will see the reward in hard work.
Those with a primarily external Locus of Control often feel helpless and at the mercy of others and events. They wait. They wonder. They watch as life passes by.

The Serenity Prayer (made popular by Alcoholics Anonymous) is a great start for developing a more internal Locus of Control. It says:

God give me the courage to change the things I can;
The serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
And the wisdom to know the difference.

A strong internal Locus of Control doesn’t mean you attempt to change everything. Like the prayer says, it means being accountable and in control of the things you can change but accepting of the things you can’t. Those with an external Locus feel that just about everything falls within the realm of what they can’t change.
ACTION: Today, take a look at your own situation. Are there things that are under your control? If so, what can you do to change things for the better? What is out of your control? What can you accept and stop fighting against?

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