The Buck Stops Here: How Your Control Impacts Your Success

We’ve all heard it: The Buck Stops Here. But would it blow your mind to know that it starts here too? Your control impacts success!

What does that mean? It means you have all of the control and power right inside you that you need to have the life you want! You can start right now, right where you are to move your life exactly where you’d like it to be.

In therapy, we talk about this as the “Locus of Control”, which is fancy term coined in the 1950s. Your locus, or “place” as it’s defined in Latin, can be either internal or external. Internal means you believe you’re in charge – the belief that that you have control over your own actions and reactions. Simply put, you believe your future is determined by the choices you make. External locus of control means you believe you’re along for the ride – destiny, higher power, fate – it happens to you.

Most of us live in shades of gray with this – we are not completely internal or external. It’s a sliding scale, if you will.

Not so sure where you land with this? Notice how you answer these questions…

  • Do you believe that your hard work pays off and you have control over how you feel?
  • Do you believe that luck, fate or your boss has most of the control of your destiny?
  • Does the success of your business, relationships or life depend on what YOU do, or what the world does TO you?
  • Do you feel helpless when faced with stress or illness?

Both sets of beliefs (Internal and External) are self-validating and self-fulfilling. Since we look for evidence that we are right, if you believe you have the control you collect the evidence for that and give yourself credit for your success and when things go right in your life! And if you believe that outside forces are in control, you find the evidence in life for that assumption – that your success in life depends on someone/something else.  “My supervisor doesn’t like me/respect me”, “Nothing ever goes right for me.”, or “I’ve got bad luck”.

If you follow me at all you know that I believe in shades of gray – and this is no exception. In the middle, somewhere between these two sets of beliefs, is the sweet spot and is where most happy, healthy, successful people hang out.

Research has shown that those with an internal locus of control generally take personal responsibility for their own actions: they feel self-confident, and seek to learn not only new skills, but from their mistakes. And, they tend to be leaders who are less likely to submit blindly to authority! They tend to exhibit greater control over their behavior and are more successful, happy and physically healthy. They report being in a good mood more frequently. They thrive in the midst of challenge.

(Does this news have you like Sally in When Harry Met Sally?… “I’ll have what she’s having!”)

Hint: entrepreneurs tend to have a very strong internal locus of control – they get things done, they persevere despite the odds because they know that they are in charge of their own outcomes.

Combine this with the positive parts of having a healthy External Locus of Control, and you’ll hit a home run! Those with this view are easy going flexible, and happy to go with the flow – they’re team players!

Find your sweet spot!

This is where you take responsibility for what you can while being realistic about your strengths, capabilities and limitations. It’s important to know your limitations – it’s not fair to hold yourself accountable for something you don’t know or is really outside of your control.

Living in this sweet spot, you are able to learn from your mistakes AND give yourself credit for job well done. What we want is a life that is empowering while accurately reflecting the reality of your time, limitations and strengths.

Give this a try as you look at your goals for the coming year and practice it every day. The combo will be a knockout 1-2 punch that will leave you feeling accomplished and confident.


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