With humans, it all starts and ends with control, or more accurately, the illusion of control. Everything that is man-made has to do with controlling the environment and others (people, animals). Everything that is of nature is about survival. With nature, there is no need for control, only the need to survive and evolve in order to deal with change, whether it be the environment and or due to competition and predators.
Reflect on this… the crosswalk (painted lines on a street) is about control. Communication (speaking, listening, gestures) is about control. The windows (thin sheets of fragile glass) of your house, car, office, etc., control the outside environment in an attempt to control the inside environment. Media (in all forms) attempts to (and often does) control the masses (mental, emotional, and financial control). Your choice of clothes controls your personal brand and your level of modesty. Laws, rules, procedures… it’s all about control.
Understanding the notion and perception of control is very important for many reasons. One, it determines how a person interacts with others and their environment. Two, it determines a person’s stress level. There is a term from psychology referred to as the “locus of control” (Latin for location). This can be divided into two parts, one on each end of the spectrum. On one side, we have “external locus of control”, and on the other we have “internal locus of control”. An “external locus of control” means the world (society, media, etc.) is controlling you. And with that, a lot of stress and little autonomy. An “internal locus of control” means YOU have a good grasp on what you can and cannot control and therefore, how much you let (choose) the external world to control you.
Humans have been attempting to control everything for thousands of years. The Serenity Prayer actually came from Stoicism, the ancient Greco-Roman philosophy over 2,000 years ago. So, this is nothing new.
“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
So my questions for you are… At what end of the spectrum do you fall? Are you easily influenced by the outside world? Or, do you have a firm grip on who you are and what you can and cannot control?
With this awareness, know that you can begin to move yourself, and others, to the more liberated side of the spectrum and ultimately achieve a more internal locus of control. This is simple, but not easy as it requires study, observation, practice, and a great coach or mentor to advise and guide you.
Brian Dunkel, Executive Revenue Coach