Generating Internal Control

achievement behavior internal locus of control responsibility self belief Oct 10, 2023
Jody Holland Training & Speaking | Leadership
Generating Internal Control

How we view and interpret the world around us heavily influences how we conduct ourselves. People who go through life with an external locus of control believe that the outcomes they get are due to forces outside of themselves. If something happens that they do not like, they tend to blame other people or things instead of taking responsibility for the actions they took to get there. This person might play the victim card to get people to take pity on them. Every victim is looking for a hero to save them instead of learning how to play the hero in their own story. Even when something good happens, they might credit the outcome to luck or fate.

On the other hand, people who lead their lives with an internal locus of control believe that they have control over their thoughts and actions, and thus they have control over their outcomes. A person with an internal locus of control takes responsibility for where they are at and where they are going.

If we believe that we can control our experiences, we will behave much differently than if we believe that “life happens, and there is nothing we can do about it.” So how do we generate internal control in others? Whether in life or in business, people will benefit from the belief that their actions lead to their outcomes. This ownership of responsibility shifts the story that plays in  a person’s mind. There are three steps that will help create internal control: plant, anchor, and reinforce.

When we want our employees to change their behavior, we want to plant the idea that they are good at “X.” Our belief in them will help them develop the belief in self that leads to ownership of their actions. When we catch them doing “X” right, we will anchor the behavior through positive reinforcement. We can follow the model of behavior, feeling, and impact. That would sound like, “When you did ‘X’, I felt ________, because of _________(the positive impact).” It is important to acknowledge when they are doing something well because it encourages them to continue down the path to internal control. If we are quick to reprimand them for doing something wrong, they are more likely to blame outside factors for the outcome.

The third step is to reinforce. It takes at least 21 reinforcements for a person to fully accept that that’s who they are now. Positive affirmations help the behavior become a part of the person’s identity, and then the behavior will come naturally. Once a person has developed an internal locus of control, they take responsibility for all of their actions, and it is easier to introduce new behaviors that will help them as an employee and as an individual.

We may not have control over everything that happens in life, but we do have control over our thoughts, feelings, and actions, which can all lead to different outcomes. The next time you are facing something difficult, I challenge you to take ownership of your actions. See how different your experience of life can be when you don’t blame other people or things, and instead you look within yourself for control.


-Meghan Slaughter

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