The Greatest Predictor of Success
You’ve probably heard of The Law of Attraction. It’s the idea that we bring into our lives what we fear and desire the most by encouraging events through the power of our minds and our preoccupations. Many books have been written about the Law of Attraction and its authors argue endlessly that it’s a great way to get anything you want in life. They also state that if you are terrified of something (being broke, for example) you will end up penniless living with your mother.
This is, of course, crazy. It doesn’t always work
For example – if you live in mortifying fear of New Zealand, you can just elect not to go there. You won’t bring New Zealand into your life just by fearing it, unless you are at the market and stumble upon some kiwifruit.
I would say, however that if you keep the idea of yourself as successful in your head you are more likely to find actual success than it than if you beat yourself up every hour of the day. This is just common sense. But the law of attraction pales in comparison to a much greater predictor of success. In fact, I would argue that it is one of the best out there – sometimes even better than socioeconomic conditions.
What is it?
Having a Strong Internal Locus of Control
That’s right. You heard it here first.
But what is this?
A person with a highly internal locus of control believes that they are in charge of their own destiny. They believe that fate, chance and random events do not play a significant role in their successes or failures. If something goes wrong in their lives, they will look to see what they could have done differently to prevent it, and what they should do in the future to avoid it. If they lose their job, they are less likely to blame the economy, their boss, or their astrological sign.
These people become successful. Because they look at the trials of life as something within their control, they are more likely to believe that anything is possible. They take responsibility for their actions (good and bad) and are less likely to complain. If something goes wrong, a person with a high internal locus of control will look for a solution instead of whining about how unfair life is.
What about the reverse? A person with a high external locus of control believes that life has more to do with random chance, luck, or some kind of guardian angel (or lack thereof) influencing events. They will complain about their misfortunes. If something good happens to them, it was circumstantial. “I got lucky that time” or “the fates were with me.” If something goes wrong they generalize and makes excuses. Having an external locus of control is a sure way to become a reactionary in life. Instead of being the golfer, you are the golf ball. You are letting life smack you around the course every which way until you end up in a sand trap.
Don’t be the golf ball.
Which Locus of Control Do You Prefer?
Check out some of the characteristics below to help determine what your preference is:
People with an internal locus of control:
- Are self-starters and highly independent
- Look for solutions to problems
- Ask for help when necessary
- Take responsibility for their situation in life
People with an external locus of control:
- Rely on others for help and advice
- Look for the problems in solutions
- Either ask for help all the time (dependent) or never
- React to what life gives them and goes along for the ride
Take a good, honest look at yourself. Do you have a high external locus of control? If so, the good news is that you can change!
How to Develop a Higher Internal Locus of Control
1. Quit Complaining
Complaining is a self-perpetuating cycle. Instead of shouldering the responsibility for the things that irk you, complaints deflect the issue. If you like to hang out with your co-workers on your break at work outside smoking and badmouthing/gossiping about your boss, girlfriend or the mailman I am talking to you.
A good exercise to try is to give yourself a week. You are not allowed to complain about anything the entire week. If you make a mistake during the first four days, that’s ok but keep track of how many times you slip up. On the final three days of the week if you make any complaints you have to do something about it. For example, if you get a bad apple at the market and you say to your friend, “this apple tastes like sewage” that is a complaint. You have to do something about it. Go back to the market and make them give you the money back or get a different apple.
This works well because it forces you to find a solution instead of assigning blame to life or the market. It is acting like someone with an internal locus of control. Keep doing this until the week ends. I’ll bet you feel a lot better by day 7.
2. Ask for Help Appropriately
If you run into a problem that you are unable to fix, stop and take a breath. Ask yourself the following two questions:
1. Is this something that, given my current knowledge, I can fix on my own?
2. Is this something that someone else with more knowledge could help me with?
If the answer is yes to the first question, stop and take a break for 10 minutes. Come back to the problem at hand. If you still can’t solve it, ask yourself the second question. If the answer to number 2 is yes, don’t feel bad about asking for help. Most people with knowledge about a particular area will be more than happy to offer advice.
This is another example of taking control of your life. You will be successful much more quickly if you put the art of appropriately asking for help into practice. It is perfectly ok to ask for help! You are not a failure if you don’t know everything. I’m a web developer with years of experience and a very strong natural design and programming ability. But I ask for help at least 3-4 times a week, either by consulting internet sources or talking with developers that might have more experience in a certain area than me. This is ok.
3. Trust Yourself
This might be one of the most important lessons of all. In order to be successful you need to believe that you have a working brain. If someone does not agree with an idea of yours, that is their opinion. If you know in your heart that a decision is the right one, why not leap at that decision? You don’t need to consult with people who you perceive as stronger/more experienced than you make a big decision in your life.
People with an external locus of control have trouble making decisions on their own because deep down they feel like life will lead them on the correct path naturally.
And this idea takes us full circle to the very principal of The Law of Attraction. If you believe that money is just going to fall from the sky by thinking about it, you are not taking control of your life. If you believe that a perfect relationship will come along when the time is right you are absolving yourself of any responsibility in making it happen. You are merely a golf ball being smacked around a golf course by some hack who you perceive as having a lot more experience or brains than you could ever have.
This is not a healthy way to live your life. Instead of waiting for things to come to you, make them happen. Turn the Law of Attraction into The Law of Proaction and make your life something wonderful. You have the power.
The Greatest Predictor of SuccessJune 1st, 2010
How to Stop Compulsive Web SurfingApril 27th, 2010
Becoming Your WorkFebruary 24th, 2010
The Art of Risk (Part 1)February 2nd, 2009
Getting Fired is GoodAugust 18th, 2008