Victor or Victim....Focus on your Locus of Control!
Updated: Jan 8, 2019
This newsletter is probably a little out of the ordinary from my normal monthly newsletters. However, if you haven't figured it out already, the topics I write about come from what's happening with my clients. This month is no different, but it is a little more personal.
There have been some eye opening events over the past several months that make me scared and yet make me thankful. Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in the business and lose sight of what's really important.....faith, family, and friends. Now I'm not going to give you a sermon, but I do want you to think about your business, your job, your family, your friends, and your faith and community activities. I know it's easy for me to get caught up in the routine of doing instead of being, and truly appreciating how blessed I am.
I recently had a client that was diagnosed with breast cancer just before the holidays. She is very young, and recently had to go through surgery and radiation treatments. Thankfully, she is doing fine. I have another client that is struggling through a very difficult family situation after a business restructuring that severed many of the family member's jobs. There are wounds that won't be mended and have permanently damaged the family relationships.
Also, there have been several horrific accidents in the news involving drinking and driving. One very close to home, in that my daughters knew the individuals involved. One died, one is going to prison, and the other survived. The scary part of that whole story is that it could happen to anyone. How one decision can have life changing effects that are irreversible.
So when I experience what my clients are struggling with and my own children, the pain becomes very real. The fact that there are so many things out of our control, and that we must do our best to appreciate life and make the most of it. These types of events really put into perspective the impacts of our daily decisions. When you really think about it, there are very few decisions that can't be fixed. There are very few decisions that can't be overcome. However, the few decisions that are, can change your life forever.
One motto that I live by and encourage my clients and children to operate by, is to focus on your locus of control. We can't change what other people do, but we can control our own response. We can't affect the political environment, the horrible terror attacks, and the senseless loss of life, but we can do our best to make good decisions and hope that those decisions, that aren't good ones, are ones that can be fixed. We all have had struggles and bumps in the road, that at the time seemed devastating. However, we are all still alive and able to get out of bed in the morning and make today a better day than the day before.
When we focus on our internal locus of control, we take responsibility for our failures, and in the process learn from our mistakes. In situations such as cancer or family struggles, when we are focused on our internal locus of control, we take responsibility for our response and how we deal with situations.
Or, in contrast, if we have an external locus of control, we don't believe that we have the power to solve our own problems. We are convinced that we are the victims of circumstances beyond our control.
Victims are too busy inventing excuses and they worry too much about what people think and see in them. Victors, on the other hand, make great leaders because they have an internal locus of control. They take responsibility and solve problems. They do not dwell on their failures too long, thus avoiding the crippling effect that failure can bring someone with an external locus of control. They are in charge of their lives and their actions, and they avoid blaming anyone else other than themselves for their shortfalls.
Let's face it. It is a lot easier not to take responsibility for decisions. It's much more painful to have to own the consequences. Yet, it's also very freeing and rewarding to know that it's a choice. Because it's a choice, you have the ability to correct bad decisions. Life throws us curve balls; what we do with them makes life worth living.
Jayne McQuillan, CPA, MBA, CEPA is a strategic management consultant, and the owner of Journey Consulting, LLC, in Green Bay