Locus of Control
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“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” - Jim Rohn
Quick quiz: if you miss a promotion, who do you blame? The boss who didn't pick you? The system that holds people back? Bad luck or lousy timing?
If you said yes to any of those, you likely lean external on the locus scale. And that orientation may secretly sabotage your success.
There's a psychological concept known as locus of control.
Some people view themselves as controlling life events — internal locus. Others see outside forces directing their destiny — external locus.
Corporate culture and education breed external thinkers. We absorb ideas like...
The company limits advancement. I'll never get ahead here.
The economy tanks my savings no matter what I do.
I lost my job because of ageism/sexism/racism/cronyism/nepotism.
The system is rigged against people like me.
An external locus is learned helplessness on steroids. It assumes you lack agency over your outcomes.
The keys to the kingdom reside outside the castle walls. You cannot breach them.
Meanwhile, internals interpret setbacks differently:
I haven't demonstrated I'm promotion-worthy yet.
I should diversify my investments more to hedge against risk.
My skills aren't competitive anymore. Time to update them.
The system may be biased but I can still influence my own experience.
See the difference? Internals believe they largely control what happens TO them, while externals see things happening AT them.
This orientation predicts success and wellbeing. Internals end up healthier, wealthier and more satisfied.
They resist victim narratives, take responsibility for career growth, and persist despite obstacles. What others call luck they call the inevitable output of preparation meeting opportunity.
Internals rise faster. They handle setbacks with resilience rather than resentment or resignation. Hungry to keep bettering their best.
They own their destinations even when the journey depends partly on outside forces. They influence context through quality connections. Master timing and tribes.
This lifeline forever pulls them forward, fate and fortune ultimately submitting to internal gravity.
The external looks at the internal's progress with confusion. "How does she keep advancing despite the headwinds?"
They don't recognize the mindset gap that keeps blowing doors open for one while barricading them for the other.
So the internal lands the promotions. Lands the wealthy spouse. Lands more job offers and speaking gigs. Hits targets the external calls impossible.
The formula is simple: Internals bet on themselves.
While externals wait for the world to give them a fair chance, internals get obsessed with self-growth. They level up skills, expand networks, speak up when overlooked.
In contrast, externals atrophy in bitterness and disbelief. Blame becomes the balm that temporarily soothes their powerlessness to control context.
Occasionally the internal orientation goes too far — the hubris of refusing to acknowledge any constraints beyond your control. But the sweet spot lives much closer to that extreme than the other.
So if you catch yourself externalizing, course correct quick. Trade in excuses for ownership. Set audacious goals immune to outside forces. Maybe the winds won't cooperate but your mindset still controls the sails.
Stop leaving your fate and fortune resting in foreign hands. Seize your locus and shift it internal. Orient yourself to play power, not victim.
You’ll be amazed at how quickly the game changes when you do.