Lou Holtz has said that

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”


“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” by Lou Holtz



take note of what motivates you and how you can improve your motivation to learn. Motivation is what drives or inspires you to achieve your goals or behave in a certain manner. It is the ‘why’ you do something.

Motivation is a driving force.

What are you motivated by?

There are two kinds of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic. With intrinsic motivation you are motivated to do something because you derive a sense of pleasure or satisfaction from completing the task. Your participation in the activity may bring you pleasure (e.g. gardening), you may dream it is important (e.g. earn an A.A. degree), or simply because you feel it is will benefit others (e.g. volunteer). You may also be motivated by extrinsic sources. These are sources outside of your such as feeling compelled by others to achieve something (e.g. parents/spouse desires for you to earn all A’s) , act in a certain manner to please a family member, or because you have been told to.

Ways which may help you improve your intrinsic motivation

(a) Make your goals challenging and personal,

(b) Engage your curiosity and sense of wonder,

(c) Choose for yourself to engage in an activity, and

(d) Believe that your work will have an effect in your life


Locus control is different than motivation (why you do something). Locus of control is related to to where you conceptually place the responsibility, choice, and control for what you achieve and what occurs in your life. Reflect on what you just read about motivation. Do you understand the difference between motivation (why) to do something and your locus of control (responsibility/control/choice)? If not, return to the previous page and review again what is meant by motivation.


The decision to place the responsibility for your success and failures is not usually something that you are consciously aware of. Yet, it is very important for you to reflect on and identify your general locus of control for it can: strongly influences your motivation, sense of self direction, feeling of control over what you do and accomplish

There are two types of locus of control, internal or external. An external locus of control supports a belief that one is helpless, without blame, and not in control of one’s successes and failures. An individual with external locus of control blames their failure is to outside sources such as: “I did not do well in class because the instructor was terrible” or “The project that I had to complete did not meet expectations because I didn’t have information on how to “_____”.

While a student with an internal locus of control will attribute their success and failures to their own efforts. In the first example, a student with an internal locus of control would feel that they were in control of what grade they earned. “I didn’t do well in class but it was because I did not give the class the time and effort needed. When I realized I didn’t feel the professor presented the information well in his/her lectures, I should have: (a) done some extra reading, (b) made notes for each of the chapters, and (c) met with the instructor to discuss questions I had about the lectures.”

Key attributes of internal locus of control include:

You are in control of your success and failure

Positive attitudes

Accepting responsible for your actions, achievements, and failure

Understanding that your success and failures comes from your own effort

In the second example, an employee with an internal locus of control would feel that their failure to perform was due to their lack of initiative (effort) to obtain the information they needed. For example: “When I realized that more information/training/knowledge was required, I should have gone to my boss for guidance, or gotten the information through research or from fellow team members.”

Understanding locus of control can be challenging at first. Please complete all of the following questions to ensure you can identify instances of someone exhibiting internal and external locus of control. This is an important concept for it will be repeated on all of your tests.