In a class the other day, the lecturer was talking about common traits among successful entrepreneurs – risk-takers, creative types, driven to succeed.
One of them was locus of control. From wikipedia:
One’s “locus” can either be internal (meaning the person believes that they control their life) or external (meaning they believe that their environment, some higher power, or other people control their decisions and their life).
Not surprisingly, the theory is that successful entrepreneurs have a high internal locus of control.
This is something that’s talked about a lot in self-development literature, particularly with pickup artists. The other week I listened to an interview between a pickup artist and Ramit Sethi, discussing the crossovers between pickup and personal finance. They mentioned one key similarity – the mental barriers that stop people achieving their goals.
- I could get that girl, if only I was better looking/in better shape/funnier/more charismatic
- I would be saving more and investing, if only I earned more money/didn’t have all this debt/knew where to start
- I can’t get a job/start a company now because the market is tough/I don’t have enough experience/it’s a really competitive area
How many times have you heard people say things like this? All these thought processes have one thing in common – an external locus of control. “I could do X if Y happened (but I can’t control Y).” But let’s break these thought processes.
Society generally holds men to much lower standards of looks than women – any guy with a decent haircut, workout regime and some new clothes looks pretty good (and in any case, looks are much less important to women than to men). Anyone can go running 3 times a week and buy a cheap set of weights to use at home. Toastmasters helps tons of people become more confident, as do improv classes, not to mention that you could always just, you know, talk to more women when you get the chance. There are people who save money on tiny salaries, by forgoing the things we often see as essential, like an iPhone and eating out all the time. There’s a ton of books and blogs out there to help you get started managing your money. Groupon, the fastest growing company ever, was founded 18 months ago, in the midst of the biggest recession for 30 years. And tons of people still get hired in a down market, they just have to be better at what they do.
In a sense, it’s liberating when you start framing things with an internal locus of control – you actually can do pretty much anything, if you really want to.
It’s also terrifying. All those excuses you’ve ever told yourself, the assumptions you’ve made, you start to see them for what they truly are – irrelevant. And then the only thing left is you.