Locus of Control

by AspiringDonJuan

I read about a principle the other day that has been touched on here, but I don't think fully explained. It is known as Locus of Control, and basically comes down to what you see as the determining factors in life and your own influence on things.

A person who sees himself as having ultimate control over his life and everything that happens is said to have an internal locus.

On the other hand, if a person sees his life as being manipulated by factors outside of his control, he is said to have an external locus.

In general, people with an internal locus are more successful than those with an external locus. However, it goes further. It can get a bit complicated, but quite simply the locus can be different for success and failure.

For example, if Johnny picks up a woman, he might say, "I am just such a great guy." On the other hand, Billy might say, "I was lucky tonight, she must be desperate, I guess the moon was in the right phase, etc." Johnny has an internal locus when it comes to success, whereas Billy has an external one.

Now, when Johnny is unsuccessful in picking up, he might say, "Boy that woman must be having a bad day." Whereas Billy might say, "Jeez, I really stuffed things up again, I am such a loser."

This time when it comes to failure, Johnny has an external locus whereas Billy has an internal locus.

In general, people with a reasonably external locus of control (I'll get to why I say "reasonably" in a minute) in relation to failure will be more successful, because they keep up a more optimistic outlook.

Incidentally, Johnny's attitude should look familiar to the advice posted on this site, whereas Billy's might sound a little like your old pre-Don Juan days.

So what am I driving at? It should be obvious, but in case you missed the point, I'll spell it out.

You must accept that you control your own destiny and keep the internal locus when it comes to success. However, you must realize also that interactions with other people require some of their control, so when you fail, it is often not your doing -- maintain an external locus for failure.

Having said this, it is important to keep some internal focus on failure in certain cases so that you can learn from your mistakes, but not so much that you get discouraged. You have to find a balance.