Mindset Monday: Beyond Positive Thinking

I hope your weekend was fantastic. Mine turned out great.  As we were driving home last night, I was reflecting on the weekend. And feeling grateful for so many fantastic opportunities and experiences in my life. Positive thinking was the main subject of my thoughts.

I had the chance to see my daughter’s first ski cross race. Also, did some runs in the terrain park at Lake Louise with my son (his favorite part of the mountain to ski), and had a great day of skiing.

As I was discussing some of the race details with my wife, she was recounting the results along with the responses of some of the racers.

After hearing how a bunch of the kids reacted to their performance, a clear pattern emerged.

The responses ran the gamut of kids saying how awesome they were (not always correlated with a great placing). Also, they were talking about what they could do better to improve. But, there was a massive range of excuses from the snow quality to ski tuning issues, to the behavior of other racers.

It became very clear which kids took accountability for their performance. And which ones were passing the buck for their failure to perform. However, keep in mind that these are 10 and 11-year-olds, and there wasn’t huge pressure to win.

This situation wasn’t anything new and didn’t surprise me. But at the moment it hit home how early many of these mindset habits are learned. Unfortunately, many adults still hold these same beliefs and habits. Many of which directly contribute to their success and happiness, or failure and frustration in life.

a boy in the ski race


In psychology, and the field of mindset, an important concept is at work here.

It’s called Locus of Control.

This refers to the belief that your life and its outcomes are within your control. Or whether they are controlled/influenced by outside forces. An internal locus of control means you believe that you are (mostly) in control of the outcomes you achieve in life. On the other hand, an external locus means your results are delivered at the hands of outside forces.

Where someone sits on the locus of control spectrum says a great deal about how they approach life, and their response to events. We see this every day in work, sports, and life.

If someone performs poorly in a ski race, someone with an internal locus of control will talk about how they could have worked harder. Or could have done a specific skill better.

For example: “I wasn’t paying attention, and was late out of the start gate”. Or “I messed up and took a poor line on gate #3, and it put me behind the other competitors”

With the same outcome, someone with an external locus of control may say something different.

“It wasn’t fair, I had to start in chute #4, and everyone knows that’s the worst spot to start in”. Or “The race judge should have disqualified the other racer because she crowded my line and made me slow down”.

For someone with an external locus of control, there are an unlimited number of excuses available for why they didn’t perform. Perhaps we know people like this at work? The interesting thing is that these people often take credit for their successes, and make excuses for their failures.

This links closely with the Fixed vs. Growth Mindset that we’ve talked about in the past. People with an external locus of control will often have a fixed mindset.

Our mindset is the filter through which we see the world. In our Mindset Mastery Workshop, you will learn strategies that will support you in cultivating a mindset that creates opportunities and success in your life.

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Growth mindset people tend to take ownership of their results (positive or negative), and use that information to continue improving over time.

The important thing to remember is that these are ALL learned behaviors. Our goal should be to continually be working on seeing the world from an internal locus of control, and a growth-oriented mindset.

This can be done by being aware of our responses at the moment, and consciously changing our responses (even if the reflex doesn’t feel natural).

My team and I can help you tap into your own power of control. You will be amazed at the power that taking ownership of your outcomes can have in all areas of your life. 

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