What is your locus?

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Your first thought to the commentary’s title was probably “what do you mean?” Merriam-Webster defines locus as “a central or main place where something happens or is found.” So it basically means center. Now add the words “of control.” Locus of control is a lesson that first sunk in for me when I went to the NCO Academy at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

In psychology, locus of control refers to how an individual views the outcome of events in their life, either internally or externally. People with internal locus feel their actions directly affect events. While those who have external locus believe their actions don’t affect the outcome, the outcome is instead influenced by external factors. For example, factors such as attitude and tone of communication are things you can control. While external factors such as weather, other people, and organizational hours are things outside of your control.

So why am I elaborating on this topic? Too often I hear, “I would have (insert excuse) if (insert blame assigned to others).” Some people, including Airmen such as you and me, blame others for outcomes they can control. We tend to try to change what we can’t such as regulations and ignore what we can change like our attitude or proper time management, — it’s our nature. We need to cultivate a better understanding of the events in our lives and avoid the thought that someone is trying to get us.

Why should you know what your locus is? Like I stated earlier, this lesson sunk in for me at NCOA a few years back, and it has definitely stuck with me as I continue my service as an NCO and as an Airman. Here are a few things I have learned after internalizing and applying the lesson:

1. You define your own happiness: Due to the fact that I have an internal locus of control, I believe my happiness is driven by how much control I feel I have over circumstances.

2. You are responsible for actions you can control: It’s just as simple as it’s stated. Although it’s easier to blame others for what happens to me, I focus on my responsibility for my actions.

3. Success is quicker to achieve since there is little resistance: Focus on what you need to do while considering the obstacles that could slow down progress, then work around them.

So after reading this article, I hope you have an understanding of what locus of control is and how it can be beneficial in everyday life if properly applied. My challenge to you is to understand what your locus of control is and make changes in your life to have a better handle on your own locus.