Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Locus of control

This morning, Janet Askew, a consultant with a wonderful laugh, came to talk with us in the WOW programme about time management. Ok, I am naturally a procrastinator and a free spirit (the artist in me) but at the same time I like to have a plan (the part of me that loves math and science). Sounds contradictory right? There are things that I like to plan and there are other things that I leave to exciting spontaneity. (Falling in love is the best when it just happens or when it is a surprise. You ever talked to someone who said they are planning to fall in love in the next six months? I have and they are hardly successful.)

My education, on the other hand, was never left to chance; I have been very determined from a young age and had a good idea of where I would go to school and what I would do. At the same time I try to be flexible because as Janet Askew stated, "you cannot plan for everything" and "you cannot manage time, you can only manage what you do in the time you have." I did not plan to do my master's in South Africa my first year in university, I was actually going to go to Law School, but plans change. I am now on a different and exciting journey that does not include law school (at least in the near future).

Planning, nevertheless, is essential to being professional, effective and efficient. It’s about the “locus of control” as Askew put it. If you have an “internal locus of control” this means that you are in control of the situation and you plan for the unexpected. So if you have a meeting Monday morning, you leave extra early because you know Monday morning traffic is always a little more hectic than usual. If you have an “external locus of control” you are always in ‘victim mode,” if something does not go as planned, it is never your fault and you are always pointing the finger. So if you are late for the meeting on Monday, you may tell the person who was waiting for you that traffic was chaotic and you don’t understand it, people can’t drive etc.

It’s about taking responsibility for the outcome of the situation. The fundamental difference between us and robots is the fact that we can make choices; we have a decision-making capacity in our brains that allows us to see the situation and make a decision from the numerous choices we have. This leads to knowing the goal. Askew says this is critical because if you start out not knowing where you are going then you could end up somewhere you don’t want to be. Sometimes I really don’t know where I want to be but I guess it’s about making that decision, taking the time out to reflect and not being a robot and being decisive.

Is there a time in life when you can pretty much take any road and see where it takes you? What about the world of work? Do I need to be clear of why I am taking a certain job or internship? I would say yes. Even if the answer is simply “experience.” I need to be clear of what my objective is. Planning seems to be essentially about thinking things through. Now that I think about it, my stance on letting love come to you is a plan actually. It’s saying to not walk around with a list and a time frame; I’m saying to plan to allow it to come when it comes. Does that make sense?

By now it is evident that I love quotes. These are quotes that I think sum up the concept of planning with an internal locus of control:
-“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’ plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much. ~ Jim Rohn
-“Four steps to achievement: Plan purposefully. Prepare prayerfully. Proceed positively. Pursue persistently.”~ William A. Ward
-“The ability to be flexible and the ability to plan effectively are not mutually exclusive, in fact they go hand in hand.” ~ Rochelle Renere Davidson
-“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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