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How to Acquire Internal Locus of Control for Greater Success

Acquire an internal locus of control to make things happen, create your destiny, and grow as a leader



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When you want to achieve success in all spheres of life, you must have an internal locus of control. Internal locus of control is all about taking responsibility for one’s success as well as failure.

External locus of control is all about blaming external events, forces, and factors for failures. Internal locus is about taking action and responsibility for the consequences. It is about making things happen and walking the talk.  

When you look at leaders, they possess an internal locus of control because they take responsibility of their actions. It is rightly said that bad tradesmen blame their tools, while good tradesmen avail what they have, and work within the constraints to achieve the desired outcomes. 

Internal Locus of Control 

Individuals with an internal locus of control emphasize ideas and not issues. They strongly believe in exploring ideas against annoying issues. They believe in pluck, not luck. They take responsibility for their actions. They do not blame the external environment for their failures.

 They reconcile to the external environment and realign their strategies to accomplish their objectives. They believe in creating their destiny, instead of leaving their fate to destiny. They are extraordinary achievers and history-makers. 

Here are some nuggets:

  • Be independent – take decisions independently. Research enough, and gather the knowledge to approach the subject of your interest. Read or hear out the experiences of others who tried something similar. Now think what is the right approach for you. 
  • Stay self-motivated and achievement-oriented – know where you want to reach. Take baby steps towards it. No big achievement occurs in a day. Break your goals into subgoals. Approach one at a time. Feel happy when that is achieved. Move on to the next.
  • Be troubleshooters and problem solvers – every life has problems. Instead of staying confined to “how could this happen”, graduate into “now what”. Be a solution-oriented person rather than a problem-oriented person.
  • Be fearless – do not be scared to take tough decisions. Be ruthless in accepting your mistakes. Learn from them. But be fearless in trying something new. If there is something you do not like, it is crucial for the time, either figure out the next best alternative or develop a taste for the tried and tested route. Develop the ability to simplify complex information so that it becomes easier for yourself and your associates to comprehend.
  • Be creative. Find out your way of solving things. Think critically and creatively. Do you want to do what everyone else does or do you want to try something new? There is no problem with either. But know which path is yours. 
  • Be optimistic and confident – only you know what potential you have and what you want to do. If you are not optimistic about yourself, who else will be? Do not stop believing in yourself because others feel you are not the best. Promise yourself that you will prove them wrong. 
  • Be health-conscious – if your health is not good, your mind and energy will not support you. Focus on your health. Do not ignore the complaints of your body.
  • Take responsibility – be responsible for your actions. It’s easy to blame others for things that may have gone wrong with you. But the truth is, only you are to be blamed for things you could not achieve. 

“I have studied the patterns of the universe. There’s a redemptive power that making a choice has, rather than feeling like you’re at effect to all the things that are happening. Make a choice. You just decide what it’s gonna be, who you’re gonna be, you just decide. And then from that point the universe is going to get out your way. It’s water, it wants to move and go around stuff.” – Will Smith

Internals are inquisitive and ambitious individuals with the determination to create their destinies. They work hard and persevere to make things fall into place. 

Above all, they are leaders who take responsibility in case of failures and spread fame in case of success. Internals are optimistic, and see light at the end of the tunnel. They see the silver lining over the dark cloud. They enjoy the rising sun, not the setting sun. 

Although there are lots of advantages associated with internals, there are certain problems involved as well. Australian psychologist James T. Neill outlines the dangers involved for individuals with an internal locus of control: Internals can be psychologically unhealthy and unstable. 

They can be self-obsessed. Internals appear to be arrogant. They often control a lot. They will have autocratic tendencies with an autocratic leadership mindset. The people around them might not be comfortable working with them. That is why, you should never lose touch with your family and loved ones. 

They will keep you grounded and remind you that others too exist in your life and that you have more than yourself to take care of. Also, try to spend some quality time with your work associates so they know where you are coming from and relate to you. 

Tell the people who matter how much you love them, value them, and need them. Though at times you don’t return the best and expected behavior, you do care for them. Such confessions will sort out a lot of ill feelings, if any. 

An internal orientation usually needs to be matched by competence, self-efficacy, and opportunity so that the person can successfully experience a sense of personal control and responsibility. 

Overly internal people who lack competence, efficacy, and opportunity can become neurotic, anxious, and depressed. In other words, internals needs to have a realistic sense of their circle of influence to experience “success.” 

Successful People versus Unsuccessful People

All people undergo several challenges. The road is beset with tremendous doubt, fear, volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity, and struggles. Successful people respond to their environment proactively and align their strategies from time-to time-to accomplish their goals. 

They take continuous feedback and reconcile to the realities, and realign their strategies accordingly. They pursue their journey with perseverance. In contrast, unsuccessful people blame the external environment and react negatively, and finally give up their journey toward success.  

So, acquire an internal locus of control to make things happen, create your destiny, and grow as a leader.

Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D. is the Father of “Soft Leadership” and the Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India. He is an International Leadership Guru with forty years of experience and the author of fifty books including the award-winning ‘See the Light in You’ URL: He is a C-Suite advisor and global keynote speaker. He brings a strategic eye and long-range vision given his multifaceted professional experience including military, teaching, training, research, consultancy, and philosophy. He is passionate about serving and making a difference in the lives of others. He is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine. He trains a new generation of leaders through leadership education and publications.

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