The New Johari Window #3: Locus of Control

The New Johari Window #3: Locus of Control

John Calvin, the monumentally influential Swiss lawyer and theologian, saw the world as just such a finely-crafted and divinely-created Swiss watch.  Like the American behaviorists, he looked primarily to external sources when examining and explaining human behavior. He didn’t look to the environment, however, as did the behaviorists. Rather, Calvin looked to a Protestant God. He believed that each human being was placed on the earth to act out some pre-destined drama. The Calvinist task was (and still is) to discover God’s plan. It would be arrogant, foolish and ultimately sacrilegious to design and enact our own individual plans. We see comparable perspectives on the externally determined human destiny in many Eastern religions and philosophies. Contemporary businessmen in Taipai, Taiwan, for instance, venture from their office buildings at lunchtime to discover something about their fate and future (through the I-Ching). Mohatma Gandhi met with his enemy (and childhood friend) every afternoon during a nonviolent strike in India to ensure that each party to the conflict played out his predestined role in this great, pre-ordained historical drama.

The external locus of control situates us on a much larger stage and provides us with assurance that we are not alone. Yet, ultimately, we are alone and we must somehow stand outside the steam of history so that we can feel accountable and engage in the courageous act of seeking to improve the human condition. Despite precedence, dominant mindsets and the powerful societal, political and economic forces of our society, we must exert our free will and do that which is unexpected, brave and transforming.

Internal and External Panes

Given this brief description of these two fundamental perspectives on life, let’s turn to the influence which these two perspectives have on interpersonal behavior and specifically the complex dynamics that operate in our New Johari Window.

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About the Author

William Bergquist

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant, professor in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 45 books, and president of a graduate school of psychology. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations. His graduate school (The Professional School of Psychology: www.psychology.edu) offers Master and Doctoral degrees in both clinical and organizational psychology to mature, accomplished adults.

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