The New Johari Window #16. Quadrant One, External Locus of Control and the Movement  Between an External and Internal Locus

The New Johari Window #16. Quadrant One, External Locus of Control and the Movement Between an External and Internal Locus

Rather, they should be moving away from the “mundane” details of their organization and become more concerned with and involved in community affairs—or at least with the way(s) in which their organization contributes to overall societal harmony. In Western societies we see this spirit captured in what Erik Erikson speaks of as the emergence of a spirit of generativity in mid-life. One becomes interested in the enduring legacy one leaves for the next generation. Others describe this as a shift in emphasis from success (being the best in one’s world) to significance (being the best for one’s world).

In somewhat less positive fashion, we can view movement from internal to external as a defensive maneuver played out by those people who are trying (often desperately) to “fit in.” They decide to become like other people as a strategy for social acceptance—or even survival. This shift is often found among immigrants who try to hide their distinctive, ethnic identities to become like “everyone else.” This may be one of the reasons for the widespread depression among immigrants.

Many immigrants experience the loss of self and grieve this loss; furthermore, unless they have moved into an ethnic community, they often are isolated in their grieving for the loss of ethnic identity. They once were part of a collective identity in the community where they lived; they now possess an individual and distinctive identity as a “minority” in a new community. They wish to turn to a new collective identity, as a member of the “majority” community in their new community. Unfortunately, these immigrants often find that this shift back to an external locus is not possible, given the resistance of other people in their new community to abandon their image of the immigrant as someone who is “different.”

In some ways, we find an even more pervasive lure toward an external locus produced by the sense of isolation that often is associated with profound individualism. We want to “belong to something.” We long for a sense of community. Robert Bellah and his colleagues document this longing for community in Habits of the Heart. As workaholics with long commutes, we have lost our local neighborhood and must look instead to our workplace for community and neighborhood. As I noted previously, we look for this community and neighborhood at work precisely at time when it is not very safe to establish personal relationships in the workplace.

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About the Author

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. 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.

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