Ok, so you’re running a business, and you obviously want it to be successful. Do you do everything within your power to make it so – or are you leaving it in the hands of the gods?
In other words, do you believe that the success (or failure!) of your business is down to you; what you do and what you put in….or is it down to fate, chance, kismet, a higher power…? Whether you’re an ‘I shape my own destiny’ or a ‘whatever happens, happens – there’s nothing I can do to change the outcome’ type person depends on your locus of control.
This psychological term was coined by Julian B. Rotter in 1954 and refers to how much someone believes they can control the events that affect them. Your personal locus (a Latin word meaning place or location) of control is described as being either internal or external.
People who have an internal locus of control believe that they are in charge of their own lives; they take the credit for their successes and blame themselves for their failures. They are less likely to be influenced by other people’s opinions and work better when they can tackle problems at their own speed, feeling confident about their ability to overcome whatever challenges arise.
They sound great, don’t they? Perhaps they sound like you?
However, those who have an external locus of control believe themselves to be helpless; they blame outside forces, for everything that happens to them, happily pointing their finger at anyone or anything other than themselves – whether things go wrong, or right – often chalking up any success they might have to dumb luck or chance.
Not so great…but if you’re worried that this sounds a little bit like you, don’t panic – you don’t have to be wholly one or the other.
It goes without saying that most people don’t have a locus that is either completely internal or external, but we all tend to lean more one way than the other. Personal characteristics that point to you having an external locus of control include the belief that chance and fate decide what happens to you, and being a negative person that gives up easily when there are obstacles in the way. ‘Externals’ tend to feel quite helpless during situations of stress and are unlikely to fare as well in relationships; often failing to either create new ones or repair old ones.
If you’re primarily an ‘internal’, you believe you are responsible for your own successes and failures. They are more independent and achievement oriented than their external counterparts, and have a tendency to be more health-conscious, and less prone to anxiety and depression.
In almost all walks of life – particularly in the world of business and entrepreneurship, it makes sense that it’s better to have a strong internal locus of control than an external one. Think about the business people that you know – perhaps you are one of them – they are usually motivated by achieving goals through hard work and dedication; they know their business won’t survive if they can’t withstand the pressure of outside setbacks.
And it makes sense – having a strong belief that you can make things happen for yourself is going to definitely contribute to how you perform professionally and lead to higher career satisfaction than just sitting on your arse and thinking ‘what will be, will be – no matter how much or little effort I put in.’
So, an internal locus of control is the ‘good guy’, and an external locus of control is the villain of the piece, right?
Unfortunately it’s not that simple!
If you had zero external locus of control it could be easy to just completely ignore outside factors and events, and not make the adjustments needed to work with them. Having NO external locus of control could lead you to believe that NOTHING is ever out of your control – which could lead to terrible business decisions like investing in a crashing market or ordering in more stock for a product that just isn’t going to sell no matter what you do.
Basically, when it comes to business, where you fall on the locus of control spectrum is going to have an affect on whether or not your venture thrives, and despite my word of caution, you absolutely want to be more of an internal than an external in order for your business to succeed.
What are the benefits of having more of an internal locus of control when it comes to your business?
You’re More Likely To Love Your Career!
If you’ve started your own business, it is very highly likely within an industry or sector that you love. You’re putting in the blood, sweat, tears and time because it is your passion, and you enjoy the work that you do.
This probably wouldn’t be the case if you didn’t have a strong internal locus of control.
Internals are more driven to pursue the career path they want and work harder to achieve success. Because they know that when they achieve their goals it is because of their own doing, they are happy to give themselves credit and therefore are happier overall, and much more likely to say that they love their job.
You’re More Likely To Give It Your All!
For those with an internal locus of control, this statement is true of all areas of life. Internals don’t believe that much of anything in life is simply down to chance – finances, relationships, word. And it is that belief that you’re only going to get out what you put in that makes them give every situation everything they’ve got.
You can see how this attitude could be very handy in business. An external might think that the success of their business is simply written in the stars, regardless of what time, effort or money they spend: its fate is already decided.
Internals are throwing themselves into advertising and marketing campaigns rather than sitting back and waiting for things to just happen. They’ve done their market research and spent hours checking out what the competition is doing and, when all of that drive and effort pays off, they give themselves a pat on the back because they recognise that it was all down to them.
You’re Going To Be Less Stressed!
Unforeseen challenges are all part and parcel of business, but if you have an internal locus of control you will rise to the challenge and have a steadfast belief in your ability to come up with a solution.
Externals are likely to have a melt-down over the same situation; ‘there’s no way around this’, ‘there’s nothing I can do’, ‘the universe has got it in for me’…’I KNEW this would happen!’
Being too far along the external end of the spectrum is a recipe for stress.
If you really believe that you can deal with whatever life throws at you, you’re less likely to be stressed out about outside forces. Even the most internal of internals will have to recognise that there might be things you don’t have control over – but having that internal locus of control means that you believe that you have the power to control how you react and solve the issue. Externals tend to use emotional-centred coping behaviours in stressful situations, whereas internals are task-centred – which is going to be much more productive and beneficial to your business.
You’re Likely To Take Responsibility For Your Actions!
Passing the buck is not an attractive quality in anyone – much less someone who is running a business; it’s seen as a weak and whiny trait. People with a strong internal locus of control take responsibility for their actions – even when they’ve made mistakes.
Internals are the sort of people who recognise their own wrongdoings and use them as a learning tool to make better decisions in the future. Externals will be looking to blame anyone or anything, from their employees to the software to the weather, rather than themselves.
The same goes for taking responsibility for your business successes. If you have an external locus of control you might put those increased profits or that big order from a new client down to chance…whereas an internal will recognise that that success is a direct result of their own hard work and dedication – allowing them to celebrate their achievements and enjoy the fruits of their labours.
Whether you recognise yourself as more of an internal or an external, your locus of control can have just as much of an impact on your business life as it can on your personal life. Empower yourself by harnessing some internal locus and enjoy a less stressful, more enjoyable and more successful way to run your business.