Hocus Pocus (pt2) - where is your locus?


In the previous post we introduced focus and control as 2 key traits for success.  In this post we concentrate on control - locus of control is the term used by psychologists to describe the extent to which we feel in control of our lives.  It has a pivotal impact on our motivation as can be seen in this case study.

Back to my flying days, the only instructor that failed while I was Head of Training could not control the sessions.  It easy to under estimate how important control is in a learning environment where we are pushing our students well out of their comfort zones.  We have to provide both boundary and direction.

Your hand may be on the tiller, but are you in control?
I am Senior Instructor at my local sailing club and inevitably end up with those (mostly adults) who are struggling to master the basics of tacking, but it provides a really good metaphor for the world of work.  Tacking (turning the boat through the wind so you can sail off in the other direction) is the manoeuver that many novice sailors find hardest to master.  Not surprising as there is a lot happening at once - turning the boat and controlling the sail while moving your own weight to balance the winds changing influence needs to be tightly choreographed to avoid getting wet.  It is easy to feel overwhelmed and lose control, particularly when it is windy.  Fear creeps in and suddenly mental blocks spring up and confidence nose-dives.  One really simple realisation can change all this.  Rushing induces panic, so dont rush.  if you move the tiller only slightly, the turn slows down buying you much more time.  Furthermore if you stop your turn pointing into the wind, you can let go of everything and nothing bad will happen - you have removed all of the winds power.  The effect of this realisation is startling.  Suddenly my sailors realise that they can control the boat rather than letting it control them.  Their confidence rises and their mental blocks are swept away.  It is all about feeling that you have some control.

Most of us have more control than we realise
I was coaching a coach the other day.  She was well thought of by her clients while coaching for a highly respected retailer, but was now setting up her own practice.  She dreaded the prospect of having to “sell” her services and we had been doing some work on her proposition.  So I asked her one of my simple, but penetrating questions.
”If you don’t like selling then why on earth don’t you just find a job?”
I could tell I had disarmed her as she did not have an immediate answer to such a seemingly obvious question. I reminded her of our earlier convesation about her ideal client and asked how many of them she had coached in her previous firm.  Next I asked her how best to reach her ideal client and I could see that she was joining the dots.  So by focusing her marketing on her preferred client, she was controlling who walked in through her practice door.  A “eureka moment” as she subsequently described it that had significantly helped her overcome the selling mental block.

We all of us have a hand on the tiller, but we do not always realise quite how much control it gives us.

Banner image © Mark Neild 2013  Dolphin in Bay of islands New Zealand taken shortly before we went swimming with them.