Remember the locus
Alexandra Muck | Thursday, January 25, 2018
If you’ve ever had one of those moments where you rarely think about something and then suddenly it begins appearing all over the place, you know how I’ve felt these past couple weeks. It all started when I read “Smarter Faster Better” by Charles Duhigg.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the book, it’s about the science of productivity (yes, I was reading it over Christmas break for fun, and yes, I will willingly admit that I’m a nerd). While reading the book, whose chapters focus on various aspects of productivity (motivation, focus, goal setting, teams and similar topics), I came across the idea of an internal locus of control.
As a quick refresher (or introduction), having an internal locus of control essentially means that you believe that your own effort and abilities determine your outcomes, whereas having an external locus of control means you think outside factors determine your success or failure.
While I had heard of the concept of an internal locus of control before, I can’t remember hearing that exact phrase used, so it stuck out to me (partly because the word looks like locusts, which makes me think of a Bible story, which has nothing to do with locus).
Then, “internal locus of control” came up (somewhat randomly) in a class during the first week, and I read an article online that referenced it. It seemed that the word stood out to me consistently.
Drawing on the information I learned in “Smarter Faster Better,” people with an internal locus of control tend to have more motivation and accomplish more than those with an external one. It seems that this tiny idea (that is apparently on a mission to grab my attention) carries a lot of weight and meaning.
Upon further reflection, what I’ve realized this phrase truly represents is an idea that I’ve intrinsically known but am often prone to forgetting, which is the power of an individual to influence his or her own future. How many times have I been quick to blame a bad grade or poor performance on some outside factor? Or, on the other side, how often have I tried to brush away a good performance with the idea of luck?
Both of these questions are important to remember as we get underway with classes this semester. While I may like to make excuses, I have to remember to take ownership of my own failures and the role that I truly played. At the same time, though, we all need to remember to take ownership of our successes and not be afraid to admit that we excelled because we worked hard and tried our best. If we can empower ourselves more to admit our own abilities, we’ll also see our own weaknesses, and then the real learning can start.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.