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Locus Of Control: What It Is & Why You Should Care

Do you attribute occurrences in your personal or professional life to luck or fate? Are you set on the belief that you’re the master of your own destiny in every situation? Only one of these outlooks mark the path to the success you’re after.

Diana Albertyn




Where you believe the locus (Latin for ‘place’) of control lies in your life, determines how much agency you think you have over its course. How you view the world, and consequently the actions you choose (or fail) to take are framed by either an internal or external locus of control.

What is locus of control and why should you care?

The extent to which you believe you have power over the events in your life is determined by whether you think you have the ability to influence situations and their outcomes (internal locus of control), or if you blame outside forces for everything that happens (external locus of control).

The effect of locus of control impacts multiple areas of your life. Experts from the Journal of Business Venturing believe that internal locus of control contributes to a more successful work life and affects the levels of entrepreneurship in different countries.

While the current perspectives you believe to be true aren’t always ‘real’, they’re not entirely false either. Where you believe in luck or creating your own, your view is not innate and can be changed.

“Beliefs represent the acceptance of something without any proof to back up what we accept as fact,” says Tom Corley, author of Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life. “They are unconscious programming and they’re usually inherited.”

How did enquiry into Locus of Control come about?

This concept of locus of control was discovered by Julian Rotter in the 1960s, who found that the underlying question regarding the locus of control is: ‘Do I control my life or does something else control it?’

He believed that an idea this simple could have profound significance in influencing peoples’ beliefs. Whether you believe in a higher power, luck or the Law of Attraction, affects how you make your decisions and live your life.  If you believe that making all the right decisions mean you can direct your life to be exactly how you envision it, you most likely possess an internal locus of control.

Related: 6 Mental Barriers You Must Tear Down To Succeed

What is an Internal Locus of Control?


People who have an internal locus of control believe they’re in charge of their lives. Both their successes and failures are attributed to their direct choices and actions. However, having a super internal locus of control is advantageous to success, because when you think that your fate is in your hands you’re a go-getter and don’t rely on, or blame other factors for your triumph or failure.

Definition of Internal Locus of Control

If a person has an internal locus of control, that person credits success to his or her own efforts and abilities. Expecting to succeed leads you to be more motivated and more likely to learn.

Traits of Internal Locus of Control

If you tend to look at life through the internal locus of control lens, some traits include:

  • You think you’re solely responsible for your success and failure
  • You’re less prone to anxiety and depression
  • Your levels of independence are higher
  • You’re achievement-oriented
  • You tend to be more health-conscious.

Leadership and emotional intelligence expert Paul Nyamuda explains an internal locus of control as a simple decision: “I’m going to be joyful today; nothing in my external environment is going to affect my mood – that’s the internal locus of control,” he explains. “I determine whether I’m going to be a success in life or I’m going to be a failure.”

The benefits of an Internal Locus of Control

An internal locus of control enables you to believe that you shape and determine your own future and acknowledge that you’re a powerful person who doesn’t blame others for your behaviour. Having an internal locus of control means you don’t give your weaknesses the power to control your behaviour. “I take charge of my behavior, I choose to be happy today, I choose to be full of joy today and no one can take that from me,” says Nyamuda.

Related: (Infographic) How 9 Creative Minds Got Their Ideas

What is an External Locus of Control?


On the contrary, if you have an external locus of control, you’re essentially at the mercy of your circumstances. Other people, your environment or a higher power controls what happens, not your own decision or actions.

Having an external locus of control makes it easier to hold everyone else accountable for your current situation, but yourself. If you have a very external locus of control, you believe that deities, fate, karma, randomness, luck or some other external source of power determines occurrences in your life.

Definition of External Locus of Control

A person with an external locus of control, who attributes his or her success to luck or fate, will be less likely to make the effort needed to learn. People with an external locus of control are also more likely to experience anxiety since they believe that they are not in control of their lives.

Traits of an External Locus of Control

Those with a primarily external locus of control, are more likely to:

  • Believe luck, chance and fate decides what happens to them
  • Be negative, pessimistic and give up more easily when faced with setbacks
  • Not feel the need to reach out and create new relationships or try to repair old ones
  • Feel more helpless when faced with stress or illness.

The pitfalls of an External Locus of Control

According to Nyamuda, there’s a place for external locus of control. For example, acknowledging that there are things in our lives that are outside of our control and are beyond us.

However, an external locus of control taken to the extreme could lead to complacency. “Let me give you an example: When it comes to prospering financially, do you leave it to something else completely outside yourself and become like a sluggard, the type of individual who’s lazy? These type of people become very mystical about these things and kind of think ‘success will just come to me, it’ll just happen’.” 

Do you want to understand your own Locus of Control? Test yourself

Since the concept of locus of control was first developed, several attempts have been made by psychologists, scientists, and researchers to develop an accurate and effective method to measure someone’s locus of control.

Today, multiple tests are available for you to take to determine where in the spectrum you fall. Some resources offered to determine your locus of control are:

It’s important to use a reputable test that is designed to match your circumstances, so ensure you venture beyond the three listed above and discover the wide range of locus of control tests available to determine your locus of control.

Related: 15 Traits Of Unstoppable People

How does your Locus of Control impact your life and your success?


Adopting an internal locus of control has benefits that lead to improved performance, better wellbeing and enhanced stress management. Generally, an external locus of control can impact negatively on how you handle your outlook on life when circumstances aren’t in your favour. Your locus of control can have an impact on:

1. Personal confidence

Internal locus of control is supported by a sense of self-efficacy, capability and a realistic view of success and what it means for you as an individual.

“This sense of control provides them with clarity over their direction and confidence through achieving their desired outcomes,” according to Mental Toughness Partners, an experienced and licensed global network of coaches, HR advisers and mental toughness practitioners. “It’s a strong foundation for success as well as happiness and a less stressful life.”

2. Positivity

Internal locus of control is largely related to mental toughness, and these people are consistently successful because their focus is to make things happen and get things done. Positivity drives people with an internal locus of control to carry out tasks without distraction, diversion, fear or obstacles.

“One reason is that they almost always possess a strong internal locus of control, which is the extent to which they believe they can control events affecting them through their own personal decisions and actions,” Having an external locus of control enables you to better control your emotions when reacting to events around you.

3. Anxiety

“Because feeling in control over our jobs and lives reduces stress, it even affects our physical health,” says the author of New York Times bestseller The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor. “One sweeping study of 7,400 employees found that those who felt they had little control over deadlines imposed by other people had a 50% higher risk of coronary heart disease than their counterparts.”

4. Perception of luck vs self-agency and opportunities

People with an external locus of control are more likely to believe that what happens to them is the direct result of luck being on their side, fate dealing them with a certain hand, or being determined by people in authority. You may tend to give up when life doesn’t “go your way,” because you don’t feel that you have the power to change it.

5. Progression in career

“If you’ve got a strong internal locus control you will read books, you will study the market and you will be keen to develop yourself in terms of your credibility, integrity and competence,” says Nyamuda.

Basically, you’re more motivated to work on your skills and go out there to look for the business, reach those targets and seek those prospects. “Why? Because if I do that my behaviour will determine the outcomes. While there might be some extraneous factors that may affect it, I acknowledge that,” he says.

6. Progression as a business owner

An entrepreneur with an internal locus of control is strong on cause and effect, and therefore, if for example they’re recruiting for their company their mindset as a business owner is: ‘If I hire the right people and position them correctly, then I’ll be successful.’ however, an entrepreneur with an external locus of control could blame everything from ‘man it’s terrible, this country just doesn’t have enough talent, to ‘oh it’s really bad, the people that I’ve got in my company are incompetent.’

But, as Nyamuda points out, you hired them, so you should take responsibility. “You begin to say ‘hmm, I made a few bad choices here. I’ll need to tweak my technique; I’ll need to work on my hiring skills; I’ll need to be more thorough, or I’ll need to work with a reputable recruitment agency,” he suggests. The approach means you’re taking charge of your life, which is crucial if you want to be a success in life.

7.  Success, wealth, fulfillment

An internal locus control mobilises you into action, while and external locus of control makes you feel powerless to change your current situation – whether it’s financial, physical or personal. People with an internal locus of control tend to recognise their power in any situation.

Assuming the control over your success enables you to realise that ‘if I do this then this will happen and if I do that then that will happen; if I mess up in this area then these are the consequences’.

Having an internal locus of control is all about realising that you will reap whatever you have sown. You get out whatever you put in, and that’s the mindset of someone who’s strong with an internal locus of control. “And that’s one of the things successful people do differently,” says Nyamuda.

Related: 9 Reliable Ways To Cultivate Creative Thinking

How to shift from an External Locus of Control to an Internal Locus of Control


“Developing an internal locus of control begins with the realisation that you always a have a choice and that whilst some important things in life may go against you, you do have control over the way you react to those situations,” according to Mental Toughness Partners.

One way to overcome any feelings of powerlessness in any situation is to pay attention to your self-talk. Listen when you speak and pick up on moments when you’re surrendering to your circumstances. If you catch yourself saying things like ‘I have no choice,’ or ‘there’s nothing I can do,’ you need to take a step back, remind yourself that you have the power to make your own choices, despite what is happening around you.

When you set goals for yourself, observe your progress and make notes on every single milestone you reach on your way to the achieving of your goal. Note how you are making positive changes in your life by working toward these goals to build your confidence in yourself and your abilities, despite what you have been faced with.

But don’t expect it to be as easy as a programme of a few steps. Your locus of control took time to develop to where it is, and it may require a little extra effort to change your mindset.

“Your existing beliefs were formed over many years. It takes time to reprogram your belief system. How long? According to my research, at least one year of dedicated effort,” says Corley. “But that one year investment will pay dividends for the rest of your life.”

So, how do you make the switch from having an External Locus of Control to an Internal Locus of Control? Corley suggests:

  • Associate with individuals who possess the success beliefs you want to adopt
  • Read books and articles on self-made millionaires
  • Read inspirational books and articles
  • Listen to inspirational podcasts
  • Watch and listen to inspirational TEDx talks
  • Create daily affirmations around the success beliefs you want to adopt
  • Meditate and focus on your new success beliefs (10-15 minutes a day is all it takes).

“Through development of an internal locus of control, not only does the individual benefit but the organisation as well. Organisational human capital increases through the behavioural values practiced by the employees,” advises Dr. Michael Kolacz, professor of Management and Associate Department Chair of Management for the Livonia and Warren campuses of Davenport University. “An empowered, proactive, positively focused workforce exhibits the characteristics necessary for competitive success in today’s dynamic environment.”

Diana completed a BA in Journalism in 2010 and has honed her skills as a newspaper reporter, senior communications specialist and most recently worked at a weekly magazine as a writer. She joined the EMTS Group in 2016 as a writer for Entrepreneur magazine and SmartCompany Networks. Passionate about honing her writing skills and delivering exceptional client results, Diana continues to keep a finger on the pulse of industry news and insights.

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Self Development

Don’t Victimise Your Mind: The 6 Keys To Develop Yourself And Your Business

This writing offers six keys to self and business development.

Dirk Coetsee




“Plan your work and work your plan” – Ann-Marie Heidingsfelder

Considering the plethora of permutations within the self and business development fields it is truly hard to develop yourself and your business. The good news; however, is that it is possible for all to achieve fulfilment and sustainable business success should we consciously choose to and act on our choice with a mountain of good old-fashioned ‘grit’ to underpin our efforts.

This writing offers six keys to self and business development:

1. Find your purpose

It is highly probable that a number of readers might roll their eyes when they read again that they have to find their purpose and brand such a suggestion as cliché. Well the thing with clichés are that they are mostly true but they require investigation and reflection beyond surface judgements and thoughts in order to have true practical meaning in your life.

Finding your purpose for yourself personally and for your business means that you attach a lot of positive and transformative meaning to what you are doing. This meaning transcends yourself and adds value to society. Having sincere purpose is a source of inspiration and can get you through severe challenging times.

Viktor Frankls’ – A mans’ search for meaning and Simon Sineks’ – Start with why – offer excellent and practical strategies towards finding your purpose.

2. ‘Stack’ your inspirations

I prefer the term inspiration over the use of the word motivation. Motivation is as fickle as your will power and is finite. True inspiration mainly fuelled by a strong and enduring sense of purpose has the power to help you overcome the most challenging circumstances.

For the purposes of enduring success and fulfilment you need to connect the dots between whatever inspires you which will create a powerful and symbiotic effect that will give more meaning, confidence and improved results to what you are doing.

In practical terms this means to:

  • Listen to music daily if music inspires you.
  • Workout daily if well-being is a source of inspiration to you.
  • Read the work of others daily if knowledge inspires you.
  • Sing in the shower if your own singing inspires you.
  • Meditate daily if seeking within for answers inspires you.
  • Sleep deeply and at least six to eight hours if deep rest inspires you.
  • Look at images of great works of art if art inspires you.
  • Daily look at your written Vision and goals.
  • If dancing inspires you dance every day.

The above are just a few examples of what might inspire you. You need to ‘stack as many inspirations’ as possible in one day in order to experience a great day.

3. Unlearn the victim mentality

The victim mentality presupposes an inclination towards a life of excuses and justifications however valid or invalid they appear to be. Several ancient teachers have taught us to look deeper into our own trials and tribulations and shift the paradigm of suffering them to honestly learn from them and become stronger as a result:

“I take pleasure in my infirmities” – St Paul

“The wound is where the light seeps in” – Jalal ud din Rumi

Reflect on the challenges in your life purely from a learning perspective and stop assigning blame to others or even yourself. Changed behaviour is the only true apology. Past guilt and less than desirable past results can weigh us down within a state of fear and anxiety within the present moment.

Direct your energy towards actionable solutions to challenges as opposed to diluting your finite energy reserves by overthinking on past negativity.

4. Unlearn the desire to always be right

Do not get stuck in the perpetual cycle of frustration caused by you thinking that everybody thinks or should think like you. Yes, you are mostly right but only within the realms of your own perspective.

Be open to other alternatives, truly listen to opinions and learn from others. Instead of holding on to an opposing view for the sake of defending your ego and the desire to be right attempt to ‘connect the dots’ between opposing philosophies and find the common ground between them. This attitude builds relationships and slowly but surely builds bridges between enemies.

5. Unlearn your need to ‘do something in order to get something in order to be something’

For most an expectation is to do well at school, then university, find a great job and build a family. All of this has to be done to truly be someone in society. A key and paradigm shifting realisation for me in life was that ‘you don’t get what you want but what you are’ – This means that you attract both your empowering beliefs and your limitations of who you are to yourself not what you want.

Therefore if you want more love in your life, first be more loving. If you want more money first truly develop an abundance mentality and not only pay lip service to the idea of abundance.

6. Take swift and confident action, daily

Procrastination is the top enemy to success. Overthinking leads to more anxiety. Yes think but do it rapidly and effectively by asking and answering key questions such as:

  • Will this serve my purpose?
  • Will this be worth it?
  • What are the potential risks and what can I immediately do to counter act them?
  • Does this resonate with me and does it align with my values and mission?
  • How can I build capacity for this?

If I am unsure I should immediately take action on quickly finding out more and then execute. Procrastination reduces productivity by a great deal and builds your level of anxiety.

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Self Development

How To Leverage Your Skills To Start A Side Business

Start a service-based business with knowledge you have acquired over the years.

Abdo Riani




According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2016 report, more than 25 million Americans have initiated entrepreneurial ventures. Being an entrepreneur is synonymous with being a risk taker, and one of the best ways to minimise this risk is by starting on the side, from home. In fact, according to the same report, more than half of U.S. entrepreneurs start and operate their businesses from home.

Many aspiring entrepreneurs fail to start a business due to lack of funds and business knowledge. The truth is, in most cases, none of that is required. Entrepreneurs get rewarded for solving people’s problems exactly the way employees get paid for their services. Starting a business is about creating value by solving problems and addressing needs, therefore, capturing an opportunity to serve others and getting compensated for your work is entrepreneurship in its purest form.

Especially for service-based businesses, this does not require a website, marketing campaign, business plan, round of investment funding or any other assets but your existing skills, knowledge and a laptop.

In my experience mentoring entrepreneurs with different backgrounds and visions, I found that most aspiring entrepreneurs worry too much about their 100th customer when they haven’t even acquired their first. Most entrepreneurs worry about growth stages before building a foundation.

This article shares three simple steps to help you clear your thoughts and focus only on the activities that matter in the beginning of a business venture.

1. Define your service

The key is to stick to your area of expertise. While you may have plans to start a thriving business with many products, services and customer segments, thinking too big too soon will have failing consequences. The challenges entrepreneurs face trying to run before they walk is overwhelming, and this causes failure.

What is it that you do today? This will be your service. If you were hired to do a job, chances are you are good at what you do. If you are a social media marketer, other companies need your services and consulting. The same applies to project managers, designers, programmers, teachers, engineers, researchers, assistants, scientists, coaches, speakers, etc.

Grab a piece of paper and write down your solution – “I offer X.” Before defining your ideal customer, start by writing down your service. It’s fine if your solution is as general as, “I offer social media, consulting, accounting or research services.”

Defining your ideal customer in the next step will help you become more specific and targeted.

Related: 20 South African Side-Hustles You Can Start This Weekend

2. Define your ideal customer

Service providers are often challenged with the ideal customer definition. This is understandable because virtually speaking, using some of the services mentioned earlier, many companies of different sizes need project management, design, programming, teaching and coaching services. Focusing on the ideal customer doesn’t just save time and money in finding and serving the customer but more importantly, it helps in the outcome of your contribution and your results. An ideal customer is “ideal” because you know how to help them get results. They need people like you.

The ideal customer definition process starts exactly like service definition. Start with the company that trusted you to do a job — your existing or previous employer. Chances are, many similar companies need your help and expertise. You may want to avoid serving your employer’s competitors, however, using them and their needs as a benchmark will quickly help you identify similar companies in different categories or industries.

No matter how competitive your space is, the barriers to acquiring the first customers will still be much lower than learning a new skill to serve customers in less competitive industries. Stick to your background. Especially in the beginning, focus on customer segments with the least players. The bigger the company, the longer the sales cycle. In this case, even if your experience is in helping Fortune 500 companies scale, you may want to focus on smaller companies with similar profiles and help them grow as big as your current or previous employers.

Your value proposition combines service and ideal customer definition. I help [ideal customer] with [your service], and I do it differently or uniquely by [how are you different].

For example, I help professionals leverage their skills to launch service-based businesses by providing them with a clear roadmap to paying customers, and I do it uniquely through a tested and proven framework that aims to minimise costs and reduce time to acquisition while bringing clarity and trust in the entrepreneur’s journey.

3. Define your acquisition channel

This step is simply about connecting the first two steps. In other words, how do you convey your service to your ideal customer? Use this as a rule of thumb. Your first customers are hand picked. Yes, social media, SEO, funnels, affiliate marketing and all other marketing strategies can help, but you must get your hands dirty to close your first customers quickly.

When you start and don’t have proof or case studies, people will invest in you, therefore, presenting and selling yourself is your best bet. From experience, here are the two best channels to accomplish this goal.

  1. Cold emailing, including using the power and network of LinkedIn. Drafting a personalised email or message that goes directly to your potential customer’s inbox is one of the best ways to grab their attention, especially when you are addressing businesses. Keep your message short, mention an interesting fact about their industry, comment on one of their recent posts or accomplishments, and present your services and how it can help them drive results.
  2. In-person events, especially smaller conferences, meet-ups or social events. Defining your acquisition channels is essentially about finding a way to signal your availability to your ideal customer. Local and national events are a great way to build personal relationships that can soon turn into business partnerships. Spend time developing and nurturing relationships and the rest will follow naturally.

Related: 50 Jobs, Gigs And Side Hustles You Can Do From Home

Finally, and above all, the world needs your skills and expertise, and people are ready to compensate you for your contribution. We are all entrepreneurs in one way or another. Entrepreneurship is about creating value through solutions. You do that already, so it’s about time you capture other opportunities on the side or full-time.

This article was originally posted here on

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Company Posts

5 Healthy Habits Businesses Should Adopt In 2019

Here are five beneficial habits your business should adopt in 2019.





When we think of adopting healthy habits, we usually think in terms of our bodies or our personal lives. But as an entrepreneur, shouldn’t you be adopting healthy habits for your business too? After all, like our bodies, businesses perform better – and are better able to withstand the occasional storm – when they’re functioning at an optimal level. So how does the concept of “health” translate in a small business context? Here are five beneficial habits your business should adopt in 2019:

1. Streamline your cash flow

You can have all the impressive clients you want, but if they’re not paying you on time (or at all), your cash flow will suffer – making it very hard for your business to function. Similarly, if you don’t strategically keep money in your business (for example by only paying bills when you need to), you can also run into trouble. Since cash flow is so important to a healthy business, take a high-level view of the money that’s coming in and the funds going out on a regular basis. Then, make sure that the two work in tandem, so that your bottom line stays as stable as possible.

2. Apply the KonMari method

Author and organising consultant Marie Kondo has exploded in popularity in recent years, and her 2011 book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has been published in 30 countries. In a nutshell, the KonMari method is all about keeping only those things that spark joy in your life – whether it’s clothes, books or furniture. The result, Kondo believes, is a happier, calmer, more contented life.

You could apply this principle to business too. For example, which clients are more trouble than they’re worth – and conversely, which ones give you joy that you could find more ways to work with? Or, what services does your business provide that your heart’s really not into – and which ones are you passionate about? This mindset could apply to almost any business context, from a branding refresh to streamlining your service offering, or even just clearing the clutter from your office.

3. Use tech to get organised

Admin tasks can often be overlooked in a small business, because employees are typically wearing so many different hats: they’re salespeople, account managers, the HR department and more. But if you let the admin slip, your business can suffer, and this can spill over into your dealings with customers. Luckily these days, there’s lots of tech available to help you with almost every aspect of business administration, from invoicing and budgeting, to timesheets and project management. Most of these are available at a minimal cost (or even free), so they don’t require a huge outlay. Making this small investment can pay for itself many times over in helping your business run more smoothly.

4. Get the pipeline rolling

The key to keeping your business healthy is to keep the momentum going, which means keeping the flow of new customers. Even if you’re in a comfortable position right now, you never know what’s around the corner in terms of your industry, new competitors or the economy in general. That’s why it’s important to keep stoking your sales pipeline by looking for new leads all the time. Be proactive: go to networking events, ask to be introduced to companies you want to work with, or even just try and upsell to existing clients.

5. Keep your people healthy

When it comes to the health of yourself and your employees, the personal and business worlds definitely merge. After all, if you or your employees are constantly sick, they can’t be giving their best to your business. Several medical schemes, such as Fedhealth, have a medical aid offering specifically for corporates and their employees. Besides helping to lower absentee rates and improve productivity, you’ll also boost employee morale by the improved benefits you’re offering.

By adopting just a few healthy habits within your business, you’ll make sure that in the long run, it’s as successful as it can be. It works the other way too: A successful business will have a positive impact on you as the business owner – you’ll enjoy going to work and be happier in general, which will go a long way to keeping you healthy too.

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