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November 17, 2010 / joelmalm

A Swarm of Locus

Every morning around 7:15am a white Ford Explorer pulls up to the house next to me and honks intermittently for about 5 minutes.  Eventually a few kids wander out of the house and are whisked away to school.

This morning I went over and politely asked the lady in the white Ford to consider another method of beckoning the kids to the car.  Here’s how the conversation went:

Joel: Good morning ma’am.  Is there any way you could come up with another system to let the kids know you are here?

Lady: (Through slightly cracked car window, angry tone) I have to pick up the kids for school!

Joel: I understand, I watch the event every morning.  I am simply asking if you could try another way of letting the kids know you are waiting?

Lady: (Angrier) I have to take these kids to school!!

Joel: I understand, could you call them and let them know you are on the way?

Lady: They don’t have a cell phone and I have to take them to school!

The conversation went on like this before I finally gave up.  There are lots of comments I could make about this whole interaction.  For one I could point out Corpus Christi City Ordinance 31-2 (3) forbidding honking for any other reason than danger.  But I think the deeper issue lies in something called Locus of Control.

Whether you know it or not, you have a system of belief upon which you base your perceptions about how much control you have over what happens to you.

In simplest terms:

Those with an internal locus of control believe they are responsible for what happens to them and have control over their actions.

Those with an external locus of control believe they have no control over events and tend to feel like a victim.

You will naturally respond in one of those two directions based on past experience and the culture you were raised in.  Why does all this matter?

Review the conversation above.

Apart from the non-sequitur mantra she used to deflect the question, there is an underlying attitude that portrays an external locus of control.  The lady was basically saying, whether she realized it or not, that she had to honk her horn because she had to take those kids to school.  The horn honking was out of her control, she could only respond to the stimulus.  Based on the anger in her voice I imagine she is probably a fairly miserable person.  It’s amazing how hard life is when everything is someone else’s fault.  (I hate to generalize, but it’s simpler that way.  I do admit she may actually be a happy person.  In fact, she is probably a Christian. J)

The lesson for me: What do I react to and blame others for that is really my fault?

I do have control over my actions and, most importantly,  my responses.

(If you want more about this topic look up “Learned Helplessness”)


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