Curated Leadership for Today's World

Hocus Pocus or Locus Focus

Posted on 27 October 2015

locusHocus Pocus is meaningless talk or activity, often designed to draw attention away from and disguise what is actually happening. Locus Focus is a term concocted in my own cauldron of creativity to signify the extent to which individuals believe they can control events affecting them.


Those with an external locus focus believe that outside forces, like luck, determine what happens to them, while people who develop an internal locus focus believe that they alone are responsible for their own success. It’s a simple but incredibly powerful distinction that serves every individual well and deserves careful reflection.


Do you believe life just happens to you? That it’s written in the stars? That luck plays a big part? If something doesn’t go your way do you blame outside sources? Or do you believe that you happen to life, that fate has nothing to do with it, and it’s all about taking responsibility for your own actions? At the core of this juxtaposition is the issue of control and how much power we think we have to influence outcomes. While no one can control every aspect of their existence (things like genetics, timing, family members, political and global landscapes, and the like) knowing what you can control is as important as knowing what you can’t. Here are three ways to ensure you get a treat instead of a trick every time you ring the doorbell of opportunity. 


Awareness: A man at a conference politely tried to signal to his co-worker that something was amiss. He hinted, “Somebody’s deodorant around here doesn’t work.” The oblivious co-worker replied, “It can’t be me. I don’t wear any.” We need to be aware of our strengths, talents, and gifts. We also need to be aware of our weaknesses, Achilles heels, and trigger points. As Rumi so aptly said, “Oh, happy the soul that saw its own faults.” When we are honest with ourselves, we can reel in our locus focus to craft our most profitable and desired outcome.


Action: Nothing harnesses your locus focus like good old-fashioned elbow grease. Preparation and discipline trump talent. Poor luck is often an excuse for lack of energy or laziness. One of my favorite sayings is, “I’m a firm believer in luck; the harder I work the luckier I get.” Colin Powell said it best: “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.” Stop staring at the green grass in others’ lives and start watering your own. Nothing works until you do, so put your back into it and pull that locus focus up close and personal.


Attitude: My father, the late great Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, taught me life is hard and everyone is miserable. However, we make the choice to be miserable-miserable or happy-miserable. Life isn’t what happens to us; it’s all about how we chose to respond. One of my top five books of all time is Victor Frankl’s, Man’s Search for Meaning. Read it and you’ll discover how to take internal locus focus to a whole new level. He writes, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Let’s focus less on magic and more on motivation. We can’t control every outcome but there sure is a great deal more we can take responsibility for with these three simple steps. Situational and self-awareness will keep us from walking down dark and crooked paths we never should set foot upon.


When we stop wishing and start working we gain action and traction and confirm we are the drivers of our own lives. And lastly, with a subtle sleight of the mind, we realize that if it is to be, it’s up to me.

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