Some of us believe we control everything in our lives, while others believe we have no say whatsoever. This notion, how well humans believe they can control events that affect them, is known as a "locus of control."
There are two main types when it comes to a locus of control orientation: external and internal. Those of us with an external locus of control or "outies" believe that outside forces control our circumstances. Most people that fall into this category credit luck for success, sometimes feel hopeless when it comes to difficult situations, and don’t believe that they can change outcomes. Inversely, those with an internal locus of control or "innies" believe that their actions ultimately drive their success and the outcomes in their lives. Most innies tend to be less influenced by opinion, work hard to achieve their wants and needs, and feel more confident when faced with challenges. Judging by the descriptions of an innie and an outie, the innie seems to have a distinct advantage. Let's explore what makes being an innie that much more appealing than being an outie.
When it comes innies, these folks tend to have more control over their life. They are more likely to be able to lose weight from a diet, quit smoking, work through a tough relationship issue, or reach a stretch goal. Innies are more willing to accept fault for their actions as well. Personal accountability can be both a pro and a con. It is important to see the error in one’s ways but often times innies tend to be harder on themselves because they know that only they can affect their outcomes.
Take, for example, the sales associate in a retail location who is a die hard innie. This sales associate knows that in order to make commission she has to sell. This means she and she alone has the ability to talk to each and every person and actually offer, provide a consultative process, and close the sale. She knows that it is up to her to make as much money as she can. Inversely, the outie would blame the customer for not wanting the product, not having enough money. The outie may also blame the company or the product for not being the right fit.
Outies believe that the events in their lives are controlled by outside influences such as other people, a higher power, or even their environment. An outie would contribute a promotion to a gift from their god or possibly luck, whereas the innie would think it was because of their hard work or ambition. An outie believes that for better or for worse, their fate is controlled by something other than themselves. This strategy can definitely be helpful at times, such as when dealing with a natural disaster or cancer. However, being an outie can lead to learned helplessness and loss of overall personal control.
When one takes into account the pros and cons of being an innie or an outie, having an internal or external locus of control, it is plain to see that being an innie is almost always the better mindset to have. If one believes that they can change their life, they will. If one believes that their actions matter, then they are more willing to act. If one believes that they, and only they, can change the course of their future, then they are more apt to put in the work to do so.
So what side of the "locus of control fence" do you fall on? I have linked my favorite test below to see if you're an innie or an outie when it comes to your locus of control. Click on the pic.