Who Controls Your Destiny?

My boss is driving me crazy. I can’t seem to get ahead. My team doesn’t work hard enough. My service is better than there’s but they’re getting more customers.”

These are all too familiar things I hear in coaching leaders and business owners.

What do all of these have in common?

It’s like someone or something out there is pulling the strings and you have no control of the situation. Your success or failure is in the hands of others. But is that really the case?

A Different Way to Look At The Situation

who's in charge of your detiny

Locus of control describes the degree to which individuals perceive that outcomes result from their own behaviors and decisions we make - or from forces that are external to ourselves –it’s fate or bad luck and not based on what you do.. This produces a continuum with internal control at one end and external l control at the other:

People who develop an internal locus of control believe that they are responsible for their own success. Those with an external locus of control believe that external forces, like luck, determine their outcomes. Where are you on this continuum?

People with an internal locus of control tend to work harder and persevere longer in order to get what they want. They engage in activities that will improve their situation; try to figure out why things turned out the way they did; find ways to make a situation better by to create more positive outcome.

This is not to say that having an external locus of control is always bad: There are some situations where this approach can work well. The key for your own personal development is to understanding your natural tendency and then adapting it to the situations you are faced with.

Five Tips to Develop Greater Internal Locus of Control

1. Recognize this basic fact.
You always have a choice. Making no choice is actually a choice in and of itself, and it's your choice to allow other people or events to decide for you. Even if you don’t like the choices available at the moment, even if the only change you can make is in your attitude, you always have some choices.

2. Set small goals for yourself.
Don't try to solve world hunger, just something that will move you further along to where you want to go. Note how, by working towards these and achieving these, you are controlling what happens in your life. As you do this, you'll find that your self-confidence quickly builds. When you feel trapped, take action.

3. When feeling trapped, do something.
Take time off or get away from the situation for a short period of time. Make a list of all possible courses of action. Also brainstorm with a trusted friend, colleague or coach to get more ideas that you may not have initially considered.

4. Now it's time to evaluate and decide.
When you have a list, evaluate each one and decide on the best course of action for you, and keep the others in the back of your mind as alternative options. You may end up with the same answer you had before the brainstorming session, but this exercise can open your eyes to the amount of choices you have in a given situation. Seeing new possibilities will become more of a habit.

5. Pay attention to your self-talk.
When you hear yourself saying things like, “I have no choice or There’s nothing I can do:, step back and remind yourself that you do, in fact, have some degree of control. It’s your choice whether you exercise it or not. Realizing that you always have choice (even if the choices aren't ideal) can help you to change your situation, or accept it more easily if it really is the best of all available options.

Smart Moves Tip

Your locus of control says a lot about how you view the world and your role in determining the course of your life. When you believe you have the power to control your own destiny and determine your own direction, you have a strong internal locus of control. In most cases, this is an important attitude to have if you want to be successful.

Marcia Zidle, M.S. N.C.C. B.C.C. is a board certified coach who provides executive coaching to business and community leaders and management teams to leverage their skills, strengths and style for high performance. Go to http://www.LeadersAtAllLevels.com to sign up for the smart moves blog and free success e-books. Listen to her weekly internet radio program "The Business Edge" for Voice America Wednesdays at 2pm EST at http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2186/the-business-edge.You can contact Marcia at 972-380-9281 or Marcia@LeadersAtAllLevels.com.