What is Your Locus of Control?…

Here’s a Sophie’s choice type of question for you – would you rather be gifted or would you rather be hard working? Consider carefully because what you choose will define you in ways you can’t even imagine. To find out the implications of your thinking, check this episode out where I highlight a principle called the locus of control. I only recently learned about it and it shed a lot of light on my life. It can help you in yours. Thank you for tuning in and comment with your thoughts please!


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Here’s a Sophie’s choice type of question for you – would you rather be gifted or would you rather be hard working? Consider carefully because it’s actually a trick question and not really a Sophie’s choice type of question at all. Why is that?

There’s a study that was done where kids were given some puzzles to solve. Half the group was repeatedly told that they were smart to the point of being gifted. The other half of the group meanwhile was told that they were hard working. The puzzles they were meant to solve had three different categories – easy, medium and hard. And here’s what ended up happening. The so-called “gifted” group solved a few of the easy puzzles but as they went on to the medium and hard puzzles, they seemed too difficult and so the kids abandoned those. On the other hand the group that was dubbed as hard-working completed most, if not all, of the puzzles. Now, mind you, each of the kids tested at about the same level of intelligence beforehand. So how could these results be so different?

The answer lies within a principle of psychology called the locus of control. It’s a spectrum where on one end people believe that they have control over the outcome of events in their lives and on the other end people believe outcomes happen because of external forces beyond their control. Most of us fall somewhere within the two. But where we fall specifically, is the key.

See, the intelligent kids from the experiment that were told they were gifted never got past a puzzle of medium difficulty because being gifted was outside of their control. It was something given to them from birth as opposed to it being something they gained over time. So when they couldn’t solve something, they didn’t really try much harder because if they could have solved it, they would have. Life would have allowed for that.

The children who were told they were hard working kept attempting to solve the puzzles because they were reinforced with the idea that it was within their control to complete the tasks given to them.

When I first learned about this study, I was floored. Mainly because I’ve been told throughout my life that I was gifted. And people meant it as a compliment and I did appreciate it but I was always skeptical of it. Now I know why. Because it didn’t feel earned. And, though they were well intentioned, it kind of did me a huge disservice if you think about the results of the study. People reinforced within me that I had a natural ability. Good news for me was I always felt like a fraud. The good old imposter syndrome and so I would work twice as hard to meet the expectations of being so-called gifted. And once I heard about this study, and the locus of control principle, I don’t want to be anything but hard-working, because the successes and failures are purely my own. I like it that way. I don’t like the idea of there being external factors responsible for what happens in my life.

Now, you may be religious and if you are, please don’t think by any means I’m saying this is an atheist notion. Because it’s not. If you believe in a higher power, you know that higher power presents opportunities, but you have to take them and walk the walk, right? That’s what this is all about.

Too many of us would much rather have an external excuse if something goes wrong.

Boss: “Why didn’t we make that many sales today?”

Employee: “Oh, it was because most potential customers were away on vacation.”

Even that is a simple example of not taking responsibility.

With this lesson, I have one very clear idea I want you to take away and that is your life is in your control. No one else’s. Stop giving away your power. If things go well for you, it’s because you made them that way. If things go wrong, it’s because you were responsible.

This doesn’t mean you’ll have control over everything in the world, but you do have control of you and how you react to things. That’s a powerful notion. So take advantage of it. It’s scary because like I said, we’d all much rather have someone else to blame when things go wrong. Especially in our work environments where making a mistake could cost you your job. I don’t know about you, but I always try to be honest. First, because so few people are, it’s refreshing for people and they appreciate you taking responsibility. Mind you, it can’t be a fake apology, which I’ve seen time and time again. “I totally accept the blame.” No! See, what I do, is not only say I’m sorry, but I also offer ways to fix it or prevent it in the future.

I’ve been lucky where my mistakes never did cost me my job, but now with this solidified belief that I am in control of my own life, I know that if I was and it was an honest mistake, that I could find a way to land on my feet again because I am in control.

Don’t take this notion lightly. Truly apply it. At first it may be difficult because you have to accept that you’re at fault for bad things. But that also means you can alter them and thereby move past them.

Interestingly enough, I’ve started posting weekly videos about historical icons with incredible legacies where I highlight their biggest folley. I do this not to shame them or destroy their legacy. I do it because it goes to show we’re all human, number one. Number two, their mistakes never defined them. They were able to overcome those missteps and succeed wildly. Both are evidence enough that you and I can do the same. And that’s why I do it. In thinking about those historical icons, they all represent this ideal of being in command of their destiny. They tried and tried until they got it right. You and I need to do the same. And we can, because we’re in control. We are hard-working. Keep reaffirming that in your life and you’ll go far.

That’s it for this lesson. But before you click away, I want to encourage you to comment with any thoughts or questions you may have on the locus of control. I’d love to know how this idea impacts your life moving forward. Afterwards, please feel free to click over to any of the numerous lessons I’ve created just for you. I have so many you can check out along with other free resources. All you have to do is go to my website at philsvitek.com. And if you prefer to learn by reading, I’m thrilled to announce that I will be coming out with a book that not only teaches my principles but also provides exercises so you can put these ideas into action. Follow me on social media for upcoming details on that. Lastly, a huge thank you to the people that helped make this episode financially possible. If you too would like to support this show, you can either head on over to my Patreon or sport some merch from my store. Links are down below as well. Or you can just tell a friend about this show and we can build a great community of like-minded creatives. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to tune in. I’m @PhilSvitek on social media and I’ll see you next time.

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