Don’t Waste Your Energy on the Immutables

I hear a lot of complaining every day about things that are immutable; That is, things which can’t be changed by our individual effort. These include politics, government, Mother Nature, and, for the most part, society.

This year, in particular, seems to be a very dreary year for our national elections. Taxes almost always go up and almost never down. The Washington D.C. and Honolulu-centric national and state governments show very little concern for things that matter to me. I was behind the worst driver today…yadayadyada.

These things all have one thing in common: they are way beyond my ability to control or influence meaningfully. Sure, I can vote, but, to be honest, Hawaii is a one-party state, so if I vote for Democrats or Republicans, I will have almost zero chance of swaying the election. (I do vote every election, nonetheless.) I can become enraged by bad drivers, bad parents or inept government workers, but these are things I cannot change.

As a business owner, I like to focus on what matters: myself, my customers, my employees, my products and future customers. Every day I can make an impact on these. Every day, I can communicate and innovate. Every day, I can learn better ways of running my business.

In my past life as a college professor in education, we often spoke of the idea of “locus of control.” Time and time again research would show that kids and adults who have an internal locus of control—they believe they are in control of their success—would outperform those who had an external locus of control—those who believed success was attributable to things outside of them. The people who focus on things external to themselves—government, society, politics, etc.—underperform because they feel they are not in control of their outcomes. At the extreme, they develop a sense of helplessness.

Business owners, in my experience, have a high degree of internal locus of control. If they work harder, smarter, more efficiently, more creatively, they believe they can affect their future. The tools for success, most business owners would agree, are within their grasp and control; that is, they are mutable, they can be harnessed to create valuable a prosperous La La Land 2016 streaming

Are there ways to move one’s locus of control from external to internal? Many school programs focus on this with great vigor, as the consequences can be meaningful and long-term for learners. Can business owners do the same? I would suggest that they can. The first step is recognizing what is within our control and what isn’t. Stop wasting time and energy complaining about things you can’t control. Make a list of five things you can do today to improve your business. Action over thought!

control concept