4 Scenarios to Test Your Awesome Level

Here are four scenarios:

a) You’ve been laid off from your job. You knew the company was going through changes and other people have already, sadly, been laid off. You didn’t worry too much about it because you were doing a good job. But then you were laid off anyway.

Honest appraisal time–pick your response:

1) I hate that company. Why didn’t they appreciate the value I was offering? I did all I could do.

2) Why was I fired? What could I have done differently to not be the kind of employee/position that got eliminated?

3) Well, times are tough. Better people than me got fired and I shouldn’t be surprised. I couldn’t have done anything to avoid that.

4) Time to get a new job and see if it sticks. I’ll try again and see if it works out better.

b) As a coworker walked by, you said “Hey there!” in what you perceived to be an audible, semi-cheerful voice. They just kept on walking without responding. You haven’t had any substantial conversation with this coworker, but there’s no way the two of you haven’t seen each other around the office.

Pick your response:

1) Charles hates me. I suspected as much. I don’t think I like him either.

2) I mumble a lot without meaning to. Maybe Charles can’t hear very well. I’ll try speaking louder or using his name next time.

3) That was awkward–I wish I wasn’t so shy. Extroverts have it easy.

4) Maybe Charles just didn’t hear me. I’ll try again and if he doesn’t respond I’ll know he doesn’t want to talk to me.

c) You start a freelance business and it isn’t working out. You find yourself overwhelmed by expenses: paying to advertise yourself, running a Facebook account, buying a domain name and hosting a website, and can’t even find your first client. So far, you’re just several hundred dollars in the red. You’re considering cutting your losses.

Pick your response:

1) The economy is really terrible right now for the industry I want to get into. If I could have had more money starting out–or rich parents to fund my efforts–my business would be fine now.

2)  Other people have done this successfully– I probably focused on the wrong things starting out. I’ll ask someone who knows.

3) I’m not an entrepreneur–and now I know that for sure! Good thing I didn’t quit my day job when I was trying this out. Business is tough!

4) Hmm… wrong business idea. The market doesn’t exist. I just need another idea, and I’ll try these things again.

d) You are a youngin’ who needs to buy a passport within the next month if you want to go on a cool trip out of the country. Expenses are tight, and you have no idea how you’ll pay for the passport, which would basically be the only expense, since the actual trip and other expenses are covered by a scholarship (ok, this is theoretical–let’s just assume you have an urgent need for some quick cash or you’ll miss out on a sweet opportunity).

Pick your response:

1) I hope my parents will pay for this. I’ll tell them I can’t pay for it and hopefully they will realize they should help me out.

2) I guess I just won’t buy food this month! Ramen here I come! I’ll see if I can apply to waive the passport fees.

3)  Well, this trip was a long shot anyway. I need to take this as a sign I’m supposed to stay home this summer and earn some money.

4) I will talk to my program coordinator again and ask him if he’s SURE that I my passport fee isn’t covered by my scholarship. He might be wrong.


…ok, figure out your answers.

Is there any number that shows up more than once? A few times?

This quiz is supposed to measure your locus of control. Those with an internal locus of control attribute their life circumstances to their own actions, and believe that the things that happen to them are largely a result of the actions that they take. A person with an external locus of control attributes their circumstances to factors outside of their control (such as the economy, the difficulty of a task, other people being jerks to them).

Here’s what your answers might say about your locus of control:

Mostly #1’s = Strong external locus of control. You are happy to attribute your failures to other people’s actions and are indignant when bad things happen to you, because someone else made it happen to you. You find excuses to not take action, and criticize others for not taking action. Stop focusing on perceived advantages other people have and learn from those who are successful, instead of interpreting their success as an attack on your worthiness. Other people are your allies–if you are smart enough to accept their generosity and take action to befriend them.

Mostly #2’s = Strong internal locus of control.

If your ambitions fall short, you’re quick to assess what the actions were that lead to your failure–and which actions you can take next time to avoid the same outcome. Life’s lemons are an occasion for lemonade–or a way to learn to avoid lemons in the future. This doesn’t mean being a hopeless optimist: it means changing your future self to create the best outcomes and avoid learned helplessness. Most importantly, you don’t blame other people for your failures. Your risks are strategic opportunities to learn to do it better next time.

Mostly #3’s = Strong external locus of control. You’re very willing to place the blame on the difficulty of circumstance, or credit others’ success to their natural ability (Note: “I’m not an extrovert” isn’t an internal locus of control, though it seems like it–your perspective is that personalities are hands that we’ve been dealt by genetics/upbringing, instead of an aggregate of your choices). You might roll over when struggles come your way and put on the brave face of realism, instead of pushing back against the things that make people give up. Be strong!

Mostly #4’s = Internal/external locus of control. You’re a blend of both styles–but you don’t use that internal locus of control to make changes. Instead, you plunge into doing the same thing over and over. There’s still a large amount of you that blames the idea, the market, or the other person enough that you don’t make the necessary changes to figure out what really works and what doesn’t. Use your moxie and ambition to question yourself and improve yourself, instead of just repeatedly beating your head against the same wall .


You aren’t better or worse for having an internal locus of control versus an external locus of control, at least in the sense of being more or less “correct.” In fact, a healthy blend of both is probably most healthy. But there are advantages to having a more internal locus of control. Those with an internal locus of control are more likely to take action and change themselves if something doesn’t go their way (e.g. study for the next test if you do poorly), whereas those with an external locus of control have fewer reasons to find a solution (e.g., “that test was unfair/too hard”).

Of course, those with an external locus of control might be right–it really might be out of their control whether they lose their job. But even if that belief is accurate, it isn’t worth much to be right in this case, because it only leads to disabling future behavior, instead of empowering behaviors. Only by changing behavior can you change your external circumstances (since, in a literal sense, you can’t “control” anyone but yourself). Focusing on what you can change (“I can earn more money”) is more helpful than focusing on what’s outside of your control (“I am not given enough money”).


I’m a blend of internal and external, but I’m trying to be more internally locus-ed.

I still say things “I don’t have time to work out,” as if someone else sets my schedule, or as if other people have more than the standard 24 hours per day.



  1. Michael

    Good fun, Marc.
    I figured immediately which one(s) I would be and on almost every question I was either a 2 or 4 and depending on the day, I’m sure either one would have crossed through my mind.

  2. kayleemarie

    I love knowing where the examples came from haha! I was exactly split between 2’s and 4’s (great idea for a quiz btw; next time maybe ask an odd number of questions so a person will be less likely to get an exact split like I did!). Perhaps I was cheating because we recently talked about this though. Really fascinating!

  3. absolutelyspeechless

    I had two 2’s, a 3, and a 4. Man, I am one mixed-up mama. 🙂 (was gonna write the b-word in place of “mama”, but didn’t want to be inappropriate on your blog….external locus of control??)

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