The New Johari Window #16. Quadrant One, External Locus of Control and the Movement Between an External and Internal Locus
Movement Between External and Internal Locus of Control
Some West African societies suggest that we “earn our individuality” as members of a community. These societies and organizations embrace what might best be called a “communitarian” spirit. Communitarianism represents a balance between individual rights and collective responsibility. The property and respect of each member of the community is protected and respected; however, each member of the community is also expected to contribute to the overall welfare of the community even if this means the sacrifice of personal wealth or privilege. Identity in a communitarian society is vested in two places.
The identity and worth of individual are set initially within a group context. Members of a communitarian society are dropped into an existing group and community when they are born. They take on the identity of the community and the collective identity of the heritage and all the ancestors of this community. Newborns initially hold no life or identity independent of group. However, as members of the community mature and assume increasing responsibility for the overall welfare of the community, they assume distinctive roles, forge distinctive and complimentary identities, and create their own unique life path.
In addition, there are valuable lessons to be learned from the opposite type of societies in which there is a tendency to move from individual identity and individual rights to collective identity and collective responsibilities. Many of the Asian leaders with whom I work have taken this perspective in their life. While they have been oriented through most of their life to individualistic pursuit of success in business or government, they turn to a more collective perspective during the second half of their life. In Taiwan (which blends many of the Western traditions of individualistic entrepreneurship with traditional Chinese emphasis on collective responsibility), men or women who continue to pursue individual success after they have reached 50 or 60 are considered to be “unevolved.”