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Switching from an Extrinsic to an Intrinsic Locus of Control

What the heck does that mean? well, I'm not sure either, I just wanted to use some big words to peak your curiosity. Let's see if we can figure it out together.

Matt Hughes and Amir Khillah grappling
Completely unrelated picture of me getting beat up by Matt Hughes, just for the wow factor and to increase views. Side note, if you've ever wondered what it would feel like to fight a silverback, it's kind of like this. Hughes is a beast, proud to be his student and proud of his progress in recovering and walking again.

It can sometimes be easy to get frustrated when doing the things you are passionate about. It takes time and grind to get better at doing things that are worth while. Years and years on the mat are required to forge a jiujitsu game, get double taps at the range, or improve your public speaking skills.

Moreover, it sure feels good when your teacher walks by and says “hey good work on that sweep.” Positive reinforcement is a powerful thing, it’s something that I need to get better at myself during teaching. However, when we do things right, there is more often than not, nothing becomes of it, meaning no one says anything about it. Most people will only bring things up when they have a concern (try not to be “most people,” complement folks when you see them trying). I teach hundreds of students each year, I will get an occasional “oh wow, that was a great class you had with the kids” email; however, if someone has a complaint about not doing enough rolls, not enough sparring, or whatever the concern may be, well, I hear about it. Or I seldom get, “hey officer, thanks for being nice to me on this traffic stop, I need to see your supervisor.” Nope, what you often get is hey you are harassing me I need to talk to your boss, snapchat it, and write a letter to the city council, like yesterday.”

Naturally, by constantly hearing negative criticism (which can be very helpful if harnessed and utilized the correct way) about ourselves and our performance, it only makes sense that you begin to see yourself through that lens. We naturally become fixated on the less than 1% that we are not good at and forget that there is another 99% of things you are doing right. Draining.

But just like in fighting, we have to focus on things we have control over, in the middle of the fight it does me no good to play the broken record in my head of “my opponent is so big, my opponent is so strong, poor me, poor me.” Dwelling on something like that utilizes mental and emotional energy that will not yield an improvement in your position (or predicament). Instead shift your focus on things that you do have control over, what can I do to improve my position by one step? These types of thoughts can help bring change directly correlated with the amount of effort you allocate to it, unlike the former.

This is why you should shift from an extrinsic to an intrinsic locus of control. What’s a locus of control, well you can google it, or I can do that and just paste it here, here you go, you’re welcome: “Locus of control is a psychological concept that refers to how strongly people believe they have control over the situations and experiences that affect their lives.” Credit google.

Your motivation, your focus, and your reward should shift to more of an internal element that you have control of, not what others say, do, or feel.

Next time you are having a rough time, think back to why you started training in the first place? Why were you passionate about getting on the job? Remember that feeling, and attempt to refocus your energy to work towards those goals.

Keep grinding, stay safe, watch your six.


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