Who is to blame for failed targets?
The faces of the ANLP 2017 participants went blank and clueless when Alice (ANLP Alumnus – 2013, facilitator of the leadership session) introduced the topic for the period – “LOCUS OF CONTROL”. What could this mean? How was this relevant to the development of our leadership abilities? The next few minutes of the facilitator’s presentation brought so much clarity as the message resonated with every participant.
We all remembered either professional or personal instances where we were internally- or externally-oriented in terms of our control. Simply put, internal locus of control refers to taking responsibility for the results of one’s action. On the other hand, external control is characterized by blaming the system, other people, supernatural forces – in fact everyone and everything else but NOT oneself! Although all these external setbacks may be real and valid, simply blaming and folding our arms denies one the opportunity to grow.
“We cannot direct the wind but we can direct the sail” (Thomas S. Monson). And, we add, you never know what wonderful destination your ship might take you to!
Do you often take responsibility or blame others for the “failures” and challenges that life throws at you? ”I didn’t get the promotion because my boss hates my guts”. How about if you had been promoted? Will it be because your boss likes you or be as a result of your hard work? For a great number of people, almost as if by default, we are quick to attribute failures or challenges to external forces. Perhaps this may seem to be an easier option, but in reality, we rid ourselves of the opportunity to look inside, critically analyze what we could have done differently to achieve better results and so grow personally and professionally.
Setbacks, barriers, challenges are inevitable in life. To a large extent, the environment (difficult work systems, uncooperative superiors or colleagues, poor health of loved ones) cannot be changed. However, we can stay conscious of our locus of control and train ourselves to internalize more and draw strength from within. We just might be surprised. We also might surprise others. An internal locus of control can be achieved by taking responsibility for our own actions and making the best of every opportunity. It is like being given lemons and turning them into lemonade.
Great leaders are not 100% internally-oriented, but find a balance by consciously moving from the defensive external default of blaming others to being persistent, proactive, and committed to achieving planned targets.
“... Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference …” (Reinhold Niebuhr).
Strategic Communication Committee